As I said before, I have been going through our many, many possessions for months and donating carload after carload to charity. I have always been hesitant about getting rid of books because, well John Waters said it best:
“If you go home with someone and they don’t have books, don’t fuck ’em!”
Somewhere in my mind, I imagine people, I don’t know who, coming into my home, judging the books I have, and deciding I’m not smart enough because I don’t have the right books. But the truth is I am a Kindle girl. I haven’t read a bound book for a long time, save textbooks, cookbooks, and reference books, which I just don’t think work digitally. That hesitation has slowed the Battle of the Books until I got way too productive this weekend and attacked both fronts!
We have two bookcases now. We used to have three, the third holding all my cookbooks, but I downsized to only cookbooks that actually align with our eating habits (vegetarian) rather than leftovers from my professional chef days, and relocated them to a shelf in the kitchen after the dish purge of January. That case has been more or less empty since then, but I’ll get to that. So a big case from Ikea (super Billy) and a small case we’ve had since moving to Boise in 2009.
The large case has also held the toddler’s books, which needed their own space, and non-fiction; the small case has held fiction.
The first step was deciding which books to donate and which to keep.
These books were just taking up space but had made it through the first round of downsizing months ago because I thought maybe I’d read them again. I almost never reread books or rewatch movies (except Superbad and 21 Jump Street, which I could watch every day) so that thinking was pretty unlikely. This is a fraction of what went to Goodwill months ago, so it’s a good move to go back and reassess what made the cut for redundancy. There are some books I simply cannot give up.
Like this signed copy of Lullaby by Chuck Palahniuk that my brother got me for my 24th birthday.
Or books by favorite authors just so I can pass them on to my kids.
The next step was taking everything off the cases and coming up with an organization strategy.
I always alphabetize by author, but I wanted to do that cool-looking color grouping thing. Trouble is there are categories of books that should be kept together, like textbooks and reference material, so the color thing wouldn’t work. I started stacking books into groups by subject, moved the toddler’s books to that other empty case that had held cookbooks so she’d have her own space, and transferred all the fiction to the big bookcase still in alphabetic order. Then I put all my husband’s reference material/books on one shelf so they’d be together, all of my textbooks on the bottom shelf because they’re freaking huge, piano books, origami books, dictionaries in five languages, and other random category-less books below the fiction. A lot of what I have kept I have so that I can give them to my children when they’re teenagers. I used to do this with clothes because I raided my parent’s old 70s clothes when I was in high school, but I’ve tried to get out of that habit. My parents have lived in the same house for almost forty years and we move every three to six years, so it’s not practical to keep anything just because. She probably won’t even like my Ramones t-shirt or The Perks of Being a Wallflower.
After filling and unfilling the shelves twice, I had everything is some semblance of order.
The toddler’s book elsewhere and the small bookcase sits empty awaiting its destiny.
Wow. I just realized I, Amanda, have just one bookcase of books. Honestly, a year ago I wouldn’t have given up a single page, but sometimes enough is too much and stuff has got to go, even books. My only advice is to do this kind of purging when you’re ready. Don’t force it, don’t do it too quickly, give each book consideration and be honest with yourself about its value, and think about whether you know someone who might want a book or two. I listed some textbooks on Amazon because my path has changed and they aren’t really of any value to me anymore, and I kept those old piano books because playing the piano will always have value, even if I don’t do it often. Josh plays, too, and the toddler will one day, so they will see new life. As for now, we have an empty space where a bookcase used to be, a clean organized set of books each with its own place, and a special section just for baby. Ahhh…