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Tuesday, March 27, 2012

How to Upgrade: Decluttering Books

As usual, I am trying to get control of my books. Since many books come my way--owing to the biz I am in, not to mention my love of thrift stores--this is an ongoing process.

Adding to the problem: my recently self-diagnosed ADHD. I keep reading the books as I declutter! To wit: Nora Ephron's erstwhile best seller on her neck-hatred. I was planning to donate this, but I started reading and decided to keep it. (I know: BAD). In addition to an amusing essay on the cookbooks in her life, I loved a piece on books called "On Rapture." She says the most rapture-inducing book of her adult life is The Woman in White. Which I've been meaning to read for a zillion years. Which I knew I had somewhere. But WHERE?

I resumed my book clearing. As I looked at the decluttered shelves, I realized--yet once more--that the best way to UPGRADE is not by buying more stuff, but by getting rid of the lower-level stuff. My shelves were now filled with books I am likely to read.

It's not that the books in my DONATION/USED BOOKSTORE bags are bad: they are just in genres I tend not to read. So no, I will probably never read a tome called Life in Egypt under Roman Rule.

I'm sure you can see this coming. Guess what??? I found The Woman in White.

So, I now have 5 grocery bags of books-to-go, plus the book I wanted to read (thanks, Nora, for the recommendation), which, of course, saves me the time of getting it from the library, not that I would remember anyway.

Here's the problem. I discovered (via that Amazon link) that the Egypt book is a veritable CLASSIC. Reader, I retrieved it. And put it back on the shelf. I swear it's the only one.

Anyway, I am happy to report that my books are indeed upgraded. Getting rid of the lower-end stuff (whether because it is lower end or because you don't need it) does have the magical effect of leaving you with an upgraded collection.

Are you decluttering/upgrading? How's it going?


Anonymous said...

I whittled my entire library down to one 4 shelf bookcase several years ago. I try valiantly to limit myself to that--following a process similar to yours, so that the ones that remain are the best of the best.

Course there's a growing pile or two elsewhere.

Frugal Scholar said...

@Terri--ONE bookcase. I am impressed. I have 4 in my office alone.

Anonymous said...

I have 4 shelves' worth, scattered throughout the house: 1/2 shelf of all-time favorites; 1 shelf of how-to (cooking, gardening, computer) which never gets used; 1 1/2 shelves of sewing reference books & magazines; and 1/2 shelf of general current reading, a mix of fiction & non-fiction.

I tend not to keep my books unless I'm likely to read them again. (That gardening/cooking/computer shelf is the exception-- it's just wishful thinking!) Generally, I tend to "cycle" books through my collection.

Northmoon said...

Books are my decluttering nemesis! I have such a hard time letting them go, especially the sentimental ones. Can't let go of my knowledge books, knitting, gardening, beading, cookbooks. And I keep finding more in thrift stores! So hard to keep the collection to a reasonable number.

Duchesse said...

Note your use of the passive construction, "books come my way". Uh, you *buy* books, or *accept* books given to you. Once any of us who clutter determine it is we who do it, not a lovely fairy who flies in while we sleep and drops stuff, we can take control.

I also immediately donate books given as gifts (if not interested in reading, and books I've read. "I Feel Bad About My Neck" was one one, passed on to a rehab hospital.

Shelley said...

I don't have much room to talk about decluttering books, though I have done really well this year, donating about 6 bags to the local book sale (delimma - whether or not to attend said book sale...). I don't quite follow your logic on keeping the Egypt book. What if it is a 'classic'? Why would you keep a book you aren't going to read? I keep telling myself I want to live in a house that's a home, not a warehouse or storage unit. Did you take it back to you could sell it? Or so that people would see it on your bookshelf and be impressed that you have such a 'classic' book there? (I'm not being mean - it's why a lot of us are so tied up with our books, we think they make us look well read - but then you ARE well read!! You don't need the books on your shelves for folks to realise that!) I read a great book in Sydney about uncluttering that I'm going to blog about, it was so insightful.