I admit I have a problem. I looked at my overflowing shelves of books and decided to begin weeding—inspired and guided by my friend (Catherine) Madame Mayo’s blog post: “Decluttering a Library: The Ten Question Flowchart.”
It is of course significant that I have taken on this task when I should be 1) doing taxes, 2) revising my manuscript, 3) preparing to launch Sandra Gulland Ink, 4) debugging my website, and/or 5) making Vol. II of my father’s wonderful stories.
In any case, I have begun, and I feel stronger for it. The ping-pong table in the basement begins to be covered with books—books to give away. Twenty of these are books on writing. What’s shocking—truly—is that seventy-five books on writing remain, each one special to me in some way.
“When is it a library and when is it hoarding?” Catherine asks. Good question.
What does your personal library look like? How do you keep it in check?
My personal library is now growing by leapes and bounds since reading the Josephine Trilogy. I had gotten away from reading for a while since LIFE happens. However, you have created a monster. Actually, all the reading and research on my own has greatly improved every aspect of my life. Thanks.
Note: I have begun to collect cameos and tracked down one of an original cameos of napoleon during the Italy campaign – he still has the longer hair. It is my prized possession and I will scan a photo and send via email.
I love to hear about a out-of-control library! And I would love to see the scan of Napoleon. Thanks so much for your note!
My shelves throught our house are overflowing too. However, some years ago, I settled on a criteria that works very well. I decided I would keep a library of Canadian first editions, a library of world literature I absolutely love and would read again, and a series of old classics. Everything else, I reason, I can go and buy at any moment, in a used bookstore or on online retailer. I’m downloading a lot of books to read but not re-read, so I don’t need to have them. This said, I still own a library with full wall-to-wall shelves, my office with wall-to-wall shelves, and have just outfitted two new wall-to-wall book shelves for the spare bedroom. I think I could cull some more. But what has happened in the past 5 years, by following this creteria, is that I’ve added way less books that I used to.
Genni, good criterion. Now that I’m reading more in digital, I think my library, once tamed, might—MIGHT—stay tamed.
Bravo, yet again, for Solitaria! (Longlisted for the Giller, for readers who don’t know.)
Thank you for this. I really need to free up some shelf space and there are a number of books around here that make it all the way though that ten question flow chart!
I’m somewhat easy on myself, Linda. For question #2, it’s: “Am I planning to read at least a bit of it in the next 3 years?”
We’ve moved a number of times over the years and each time we move, we go through books and take a few bags to the local library. But we’ve stayed put for the last five years and well it’s beginning to get out of hand! When I started doubling shelves I knew I needed to trim down. I went through and picked books I wasn’t going to read again and books without special meaning and ones I wouldn’t loan out. I pulled them. 1 walmart bag, then I bought another bookshelf and the problem was solved. right?
Moving helps! We’ve been in our house for well over 30 years. (Time to sort? I think so!) Doubling shelves is indeed a sign — I have some shelves like that.
I’m doing this myself right now, as I’m in the process of moving to a new house. Instead of weeding and letting go, I’m weeding and sorting them into “I’ll think about this later” boxes.
I know! It’s hard. I’m constantly shifting the piles.
I try to clean out my shelves and my kids’ shelves at least once a year. Otherwise, it just gets crazy. I give my books to the library, friends, or a local book drop box.
Erika, that is so disciplined of you! I’m going to persevere. I was shocked when my mother got rid of most of her books (a little extreme, that)—but now I begin to understand. It’s nice to simmer it down to the favourites. I’ve a LONG way to go, however!