On Purging Books

On Purging Books

Once upon I time, I believed that I needed to own every book I ever read. I steadfastly went about achieving this goal. In fact, I went even further and began amassing a collection of books I might read someday. I hardly ever turned down a free or cheap book from publishers, friends, or a thrift store, and I spent many a pretty penny on new releases and other new books that caught my eye.

I ended up with a massive hoard of books numbering in the thousands. And I loved it. I thought the solution to my massive book problem was to buy more shelves. So I did. But then I ran out of room for more books. I started double stacking, even triple stacking. I managed to squeeze in a few more shelves.

But I started to realize that I had too many books. Gasp. I didn’t think that was possible. But it was, at least for me. I couldn’t even keep track of what I owned, which meant I ended up with many doubles (and a few triples or quadruples – I’m looking at you Great Expectations). And I couldn’t even enjoy my library because it was too stuffed.

After reading Marie Kondo’s The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up last spring (though I couldn’t even begin to fathom doing what she suggests and putting every book I own on the floor together, touching each one, and asking if it sparked joy), I put on a brave face and completed what I am now calling the first wave. I pulled out everything I knew I was not going to read and that I had read and didn’t like. I culled hundreds of books. It felt good. I left well enough alone for a while after that. I wasn’t ready to move on.

But then, Friday night, looking at my shelves in the living room, I spotted a book I could give away. And another. And then another. I was on my feet making a pile, and the second wave had begun. I moved into the library and started making many piles. And I continued all weekend long. I made enough room to empty a book shelf in one of the guest rooms. I pulled and purged, getting rid of books I could now admit I was unlikely to read and culling books I had read and hadn’t loved.

After a massive trip to donate over 400 books today, and with more sitting in piles waiting to go to friends and family, I have managed to fit almost all of my books and my husband’s books in the library. Only a couple of shelves are double stacked. And I can breathe a little better. This library is more representative of me. These are books that I have read and really liked and loved. These are books that I hope to read – soon. I feel a little lighter and more like reading.

Have you ever completed a book purge?