Book Purging

03/01/12 6:00 AM

I moved into my studio apartment in May of 2008. When I made that move, I downsized my book collection. This past weekend, I took the next step: getting rid of all but a handful of books. Extreme? Maybe. Maybe not.

For the longest time, I’ve had this fantasy of living so simply that if I had to move all of a sudden or if I wanted to run away to Key West, I could pack up the car and the cat and just go. Even though this fantasy may never come to fruition, it’s still a comforting one for me to have (control issues, maybe? Leave me alone).

Thanks to my Nook, whatever book I want or need is just a click away. The few books I may keep — and I’m not even sure I will — are books that I re-read and that have some sentimental significance like Anne Lamott’s book for writers, Bird by Bird. I have a couple of signed books that I wouldn’t necessarily keep if they weren’t signed (but I kinda feel I have to).

I’ve filled a box full of books that I’ve read (around 50-ish), and I’ve lined my few remaining shelves with the books I haven’t read yet, but that I’m determined I will (I recently picked up The Memory Keeper’s Daughter as a result of this downsizing and simplifying urge).

Of these books, I don’t see myself wanting to keep any of them, no matter how good they are. Into the box they’ll go as I read them (except for the three that I’ve borrowed — Colleen and Dawn, if you’re reading this, don’t worry!).

And I’m not going to waste my time, either…if I can’t get into a book after 50 pages, into the box it will go. The only book that’s currently in the box that I haven’t read is Jonathan Safran Foer’s Everything is Illuminated, which I’ve tried reading on three separate occasions over four years. It just ain’t happening for me. I’m sure this is a personal defect on my part.

Please don’t get me wrong: I love books. But the definition of a “book,” to me, isn’t the vessel that contains the words. Books mean stories. Some true. Some not. I can get those stories in one convenient place now and fuel my run-away fantasy at the same time.

How ’bout you? Have you downsized your book collection at all, or will you if/when you get a digital e-reader or tablet? Share in the comments.

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4 Comments on “Book Purging”

  1. Steve T Says:

    Ha. Did the same thing—and tweeted about it yesterday. I’ve got about two dozen novels patiently waiting to be read. Then I’m moving them on to whomever wants them.

    As for textbooks and certain non-fiction, I’ll keep some of those. I still find it easier to flip through a textbook than to call up certain information on my Nook. At least for now.

  2. Robyn Says:

    Ha, indeed! Great minds, and so forth. 🙂

  3. Martin Dugas Says:

    I will soon get my first e-reader! Although I will start collecting/reading more e-books, I’m not sure if I will ever be capable of departing from my book collection… Only the future will tell!

    I totally agree with you Robyn, the story is what matters, not the container in which it is delivered!

  4. Robyn Says:

    Yay, Martin! So excited for you! 🙂 It will be interesting to see how you like reading with an e-reader.