Purging a Bookshelf

This is a painful thing to do for me for two reasons. The first is that I love the books I own, many of which I’ve owned for many years. I’ve pared down my book collection more than once in the last few years so the books remaining are in fact the cream of the crop.

The second reason this is a painful task for me is that having shelves stuffed with books makes me feel smart. I think that’s true for everyone – we’d rather welcome people into a home with shevles full of books that say “Look how well read I am. I bet you’ve never even heard of this book.” Or maybe that’s just bibliophiles like me. People who love film or music probably have the same urge to display their movies and vinyl.

But the fact is I live in a small apartment and don’t have a lot of space for books. So only the sweetest cream can remain. Besides, it’d be much more efficient and organized to store books (as many books as I wanted!) on an e-reader. Eventually, people will only own physical books that are one of two things: beautiful or exceptionally meaningful.

Those were my requirements as I sat down to purge my bookshelf yesterday afternoon.

Of course, this purge will go in phases to make it a little less painful. I designated one shelf as my move-it-or-lose it collection of books. If I don’t read all 14 books in the next 14 weeks, they will be donated. I got the idea from Unclutterer. Each week I will start a new book. If I can’t get through it in that week, it’s purged. If I continue to choose to do or read other things rather than read that book that week, it gets purged. I don’t necessarily have to finish the book (things happen and I get busy) but if I make a valiant effort and every intention to finish the book, it can stay in my collection.

I will report back and let you know how things are going. I have a feeling that forcing my self to re-read some of these books, that I’ve been keeping on my shelf to make myself feel smart, is going to dampen the pain of purging quickly.

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