I'm a reader. I'm a writer. I've been an English teacher. I love books. Getting rid of most of my books was the hardest part of adjusting to living in a small space. Here's the thing: I want to be a book person, and a book person has books. Looking at books makes me happy. They make me feel warm and at home and important and human, and especially calm when they're arranged alphabetically by genre . However-- and it's been probably four years since our last book purge-- I can't honestly say that I've missed them.
Brian and I still have a small bookshelf of grown-up books and we have a big shelf of kids' books in their room, but it's nothing like the collection we had when we got married. Here's how grown-up books make the cut at our house:
1. Did someone special give it to me and inscribe it?
2. Have I read it more than once already and will I read it again?
3. Was it autographed for me by the author? (not a generic signature)
4. Is it a book I go to as a reference often?
If we had more space I might broaden the questions to things like, "Does it look pretty on the shelf?" but alas, we do not. I have a couple cookbooks, but the magical combination of the iPad and Pinterest has almost negated my use of cookbooks.
A big reason that giving up books wasn't harder is that we live two blocks away from a library branch that is part of an incredible library system, giving us access to nearly every book ever written. I can go online, put a book on hold, and it is on the shelf under my name in a couple days. We have constantly circulating books at our house, along with a perfect place to keep them: our living room ottoman (I'm planning to write about using the library for a future post).
eBooks have also expanded our options-- we check them out from the library or purchase them. For some people, reading books on electronic devices has turned them into avid readers. I haven't adjusted to reading books on a screen very well, and I kind of don't want to, but I can't deny their practicality.
If you want to remember the books you like, keep a list of them. I have an awesome little book called Book Lust where I can keep a tally of books I've read-- ones I don't like and why, and ones I like and why, and ones I want to read again.
Don't be afraid to let the books go if your space is limited. You can still be a book person; just keep reading them, not collecting them. And regularly visit your local library, stroll between the book shelves, open an old book and smell it, and snuggle in one of those weird circular chairs. And then walk back to your tidy, uncluttered home.
Book people read; we don't have to own.
Happy Tuesday! Consider a book purge; it will feel good when you're done.
This is one of three levels on a shelf of grown-up books that have survived our book purges.