Tuesday, January 13, 2009

reading rainbow

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.


Anonymous said...

Last spring Jan and I started a massive paring-down of our book collection (2000+ books, mostly in boxes in the basement). We are keeping things that are frequently used, that we know we'll want to reread soon, that are valuable and difficult to replace, or that have sentimental value. The rest are going to the county library donation box. It was hard at first to let them go, but we kept reminding ourselves that if we ever really truly found ourselves wanting something we no longer had, we COULD find it (Amazon, eBay, etc.). And I have to say, moving all of that stuff out of our house has felt EXTREMELY liberating.

Oh, and with you on the Kindle. No Kindle for me! Real paper and pages to turn, please!

arianna said...

Nice job - I'm impressed! And, it certainly does help to know also that those books are going to be enjoyed by someone else - I have to keep reminding myself of that. It's silly to hoard so many books that I can't be reading all at the same time when someone else might be able to take pleasure in them. :)

Karen said...

this post could have been written by me ... except (sorry!!) for the part about whittling down my collection. ... i'm just *so* not at that point ... i've definitely considered movers, though ... and not for the furniture! all those ... you guessed it ... heavy boxes!! i, too, have more books on my "to read" list than ever -- over 40 at last count! sometimes i wish i could shut my ears off and stop hearing about new books (i currently want to read "come on people" by bill cosby) and then getting them because i just can't stop obsessing about them!! har! btw ... CONGRATS on the new apt!! i can't wait to see pics!! this will be very peaceful ... and thus healthy/healing ... for you!! yay!!! love and miss you!! btw2. are you good at massive yarn tangles? i can send one to you! i give up!