Because it feels like I move every few days at this point in my life (ugh), I've been hugely into decluttering and trying to pare my belongings down to the necessities, plus a few frills (you have to surround yourself with some beautiful things, after all). My biggest difficulty (besides yarn, but that's not so much of a problem because it really doesn't weigh much) has been books. I grew up in a family that surrounded itself with books, and I have the same addiction. Not just to reading, but to having books. I love seeing them, looking at all the possibility of what I will read next. I like displaying my tastes & personality to others via my bookshelf, stocked with books: novels about pop culture, nonfiction about the evils of advertising, history books, feminist books, knitting books. Science fiction, with emphasis on the "science". Classics. And yes, a few light reads mixed in for good measure.
So it certainly pains me to think about paring down my collection, especially when I'm a member of PaperBackSwap.com, and continue to obtain more books pretty regularly. But what I want to really try to do this year - I swear, though, I have been trying to do this for the past couple of years! - is read those unread books that I have been carting around with me, decide if they are worth keeping, and then pass them on if not. It's something I've been doing this past year, but I really want to try to get through a lot more in 2009. Part of that effort included removing a lot of books from my PBS wishlist - I've kept only the ones that seem hard to get elsewhere, or that I am high up on the queue for - I don't want to lose the opportunity to get those when I am number 3 in a line of several hundred. However, most books - especially those I am certain I can get at the library - have been removed.
And the library is my ultimate goal. I will always, always hold onto those precious books which are my absolute favorites, no question - I couldn't do without any. However, I do certainly have plenty of expendable books on my shelves, and I need to remember that the public library is a wealth of opportunity for me. (Not to mention, that it forces me to get through books much more quickly!) If I can transition myself back to being a library reader (which I was for much of my life! - PBS has been somewhat "detrimental" in that regard, as much as I adore the site), then I can borrow a book, and if I find it indispensable after finishing it, I can then purchase a copy for myself. Right? No need to cart 100+ books from apartment to apartment. I have to say, I do hate that I feel like part of my "personality" will disappear along with some of the books, but at least with the advent of social websites that allow one to list their favorite books, as well as excellent sites like GoodReads, I can keep a lot of my tastes plainly displayed - even if they're not readily visible 24/7. I think I can deal with that. (Deep breath.)
I want this year to be more about dealing with tempering some of my, er, obsessions...neuroses...I need to be able to let go of certain things better than I currently do, I think. I know I said I wouldn't make resolutions, largely because I think that people should be striving to improve themselves all year 'round, but with everyone else talking resolutions right now, it's been on my mind a lot lately. So, I guess I'll make this official: my goal this year is to remove a total of at least...10 books (I'll try to start easy!) from my shelves. That means no matter how many come & go, I should have a -10 balance at the end of the year.
Hmm, that requires me counting my books. I'll have to get back to you on that. Perhaps once I move (I got approved for the new apartment, yay) and set up my bookshelves again, I'll start from there. It does help that not all of my books fit on my bookshelf - it's nice to have a visual to see that if I have fewer books not in the bookshelf by the end of the year, I'll have succeeded. I hope I can! I certainly don't need all these books. I have to start considering the public library as an extension of my own collection, haha. Bristol has a very nice one. And I've yet to - gasp! - even get a card from there. I haven't read a single library book since leaving Boston, because I've got so many to read here. That's a sign enough that I need to make a change around here!
p.s. Sites like this and this also help, for those of you who might also be considering paring down your book collections....
p.p.s. And no, I don't want a Kindle! I love holding physical books much too much. Although...I have considered the idea at least for travel purposes. But, I'll still probably refrain from the purchase for now.