Breaking Up With Books

So dear Readers what did you do on New Year’s Day? Did you watch TV, recover from a hangover, organize or relax with a good book? I kept the TV off, and got down and dirty with my book shelves. First thing I did was take a deep breath, grabbed a large box and headed over to my keeper shelves. I took another deep breath and looked at them, I mean really looked at them because my son asked me a question I had a hard time answering at first. The question was “why do you keep books?”
I touched the books as I tried to formulate an answer, one that would make sense to both Alex and me. Why did I have each and everyone on them sitting there collecting dust? What purpose were they serving? Did I have them just to have them or was there a deeper answer? As I picked them up and looked at them it dawned on me that I had a personal relationship with each of them. Each of these books had a special place in my heart. I realized that relationships with books are a lot like human relationships.
Some I had because they taught me something of value, and like a smart friend they still had much to teach me. These I use as reference books. Others, like Walter Isaacson’s Einstein was an investment in both my time and money. Often we invest so much of ourselves in a relationship it is hard to let go. I may or may not read it again, but it stayed because of my investment in it. Some of my larger nonfictions are like this. I have a tome of a biography on Mozart. It was the first “intellectual” nonfiction I read. It has been almost 15 years since I read it, but I will not give it up because of the struggle I had in reading it. Someday I will read it again. Others were like old friends that though we have less and less in common we still remain friends. These were the ones I started with when I decided to really do some cleaning. Many novels that once meant so much to me no longer held my interest. We had out grown each other. As painful as it was, I got rid of several novels that I just know in my heart I will not read again even though they are among my favorite reads. It is hard to admit a relationship has ended but in the end both parties are better for it. Someone will enjoy Little Miss Strange by Joanna Rose, same with Dava Sobel’s Planets.
I ended up getting rid of 10 keepers. Not bad but not great. I had hoped to make a lot of room but I just ended up making a dent in my shelves. The big dent and bigger surprise still was when I pulled all my books from my TBR shelves. Some had been there for two years and I have a two year rule. If in two years a book has not been touched then the chances of it ever being read is slim. Out they went. I just was not that into them I guess.  Some sounded good at the time I got them, but now look like a bore. Some relationships start this way; exciting and exotic at first, but over time they lose that spark. These books I easily tossed in the box. Over all I got rid of 16 TBR books. I still have 100 to read so these really were no big loss.
Now I have a little room on my shelves, my books waiting to be read seem exciting again and I am looking forward to getting to know each and every one of them. I cannot say I will keep them all, as I do not normally keep novels, but I have enough history and science books waiting to be moved to my keeper shelves that I am almost certain I will need another bookcase. I am looking forward to forging new relationships and discovering new loves.

Author: sarij

I'm a writer, lifelong bibliophile ,and researcher. I hold a Bachelors in Humanities & History and a Master's in Humanities. When I'm not reading or talking about Shakespeare or history, you can usually find me in the garden discussing science or politics with my cat.

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