I had declared 2014 the year of the purge and spent a lot of my purge time on books. I totalled it up and I donated seventy-nine books to Goodwill last year. I also sold some to a used bookstore. I didn’t keep track of how many but I made multiple trips and had at least $100 in store credit. There is still much work to be done this year. I will say the more I get rid of the easier it gets to be honest about what I really love and truly want to keep. I am a big reader and while I utilize the library a lot, over the years I have acquired many books. I buy far fewer these days, mostly used and typically because a book is missing from the series I am reading from the library, most annoying.
Back in the day was a different story. I bought a great number of books and despite a thorough weeding out with every move the numbers continued to grow. At one point I signed up for the Library of America (LOA) series. I think I got one a month. They are nice books with cloth covers in 4 different colors and slip cases. They looked very nice on the built in bookshelf next to the fireplace in my last house. But this house has no built-ins of any sort.
The dream was always to have, not a library exactly, but an office or den with a wall of floor to ceiling bookshelves. I finally gave up that dream last week, never going to happen. When I picture retirement I always picture myself in a small house. I will have a big bookshelf somewhere. And I will still have a finite amount of space for books. So I decided to really look at my LOA collection. Was I ever going to read “American Sermons” or Sherman’s memoirs? No.
I went through all the books attempting to be very realistic about what I would want to read when I am 70 years old and can’t make it to the library (or worse, the day libraries have few “real” books). Out of 57 volumes I decided to keep 24 and try and sell 33. I was very excited, I was getting rid of more than half!
So then I went on-line to look around and see if I could sell them and for how much. Alas, in my browsing I found an 88 volume set of the Agatha Christie Mystery Collection. In great shape. With free-shipping. For ~$5 a book.
I had been looking for this set for years. I always regretted that I didn’t get this series instead of the LOA. (I would have if I had known about it). I love checking these volumes out of the library, the smooth leatherette covers, just the right size and it is Agatha Christie. And without a whole lot of thought I bought it. The next day I began to worry about what I had done. It wasn’t the cost that was the problem but where was I going to put all these books. Eighty-eight volumes times one inch equals how many feet of shelf space? Seven. Were they all 1″? So between seven and fourteen feet of shelf space. Hmmm.
Thus began the big book rodeo. I herded books from one bookcase to another. It took a few days and a few trips up and down the stairs but I think all the books have found a pleasing place to settle. In my rearranging I even found a few more books I could sell/donate.
I feel a little bit bad about making such a large purchase when my goal is to downsize. I comfort myself with the thought that I have the room for these books I love because I got rid of so many I didn’t. Every time I pass them in the hall they make me smile. And isn’t that what life is all about?
Before: Mostly LOA books, a few over-sized art books. The upper right corner is for books from the public library.
After: The bottom two shelves now have my husband’s history books. These were previously on the wicker shelf where my Agatha Christie collection now resides. The books with sports themes have been moved to the man cave and interspersed with the bobble heads, NASCAR cars and sports card collection. (Yes, those are a few A.C. books on the middle shelf. They are the few non-mystery volumes that came with the set.)
And here is the new collection. I usually prefer to have more knickknacks intermingled with the books to break things up a bit visually but I can live with this for now.
I saw books on a mantle in an old movie and wondered why I had never thought of that. Now I have a few books on the mantle.