Any bibliophile knows that at some point you have to make some painful decisions. Unless you are blessed with unlimited space, bookshelves eventually fill. Depending on your tolerance for clutter there is only so much stacking books behind each other, piling them on the floor, filling the cupboards and funny spaces between appliances that you can do before enough is enough. Something has to go. It's a painful process getting rid of books. When deciding what goes and looking between one book and another it starts to feel like “Sophie's Choice.”

My bookshelves are always on the brink of overflowing and since my boyfriend likes to keep things neat it's not fair to let our apartment fill up completely with the books I acquire. Over the weekend we had a clear out and came up with this stack of books to go. These are the victims...

 I've read most of the books on the right side. The left side has books which are quite big and that I don't think I'll get to anytime soon. Sedaris is a duplicate.

I've read most of the books on the right side. The left side has books which are quite big and that I don't think I'll get to anytime soon. Sedaris is a duplicate.

I make my book culling decisions based on the following:

  • Is this a duplicate? (These are the first to go. I was given a beautiful old edition of O'Connor's stories at Christmas which is why this edition is going)

  • Have I read it and do I realistically believe I'll read it again? Many of the books on my shelves are ones I haven't read. Quite often there are ones that I have read and enjoyed I'm happy to let go but there are others which I want to be part of my permanent collection.

  • If I've had it for several years and haven't read it is it time to let it go? Some books I look at and think 'It'd be nice to read that one day' But if I'm honest with myself I'll probably never find the time.

  • Will it be difficult to reacquire this book if I want it again one day? It's easy to find almost any book that's been published with bookfinder.com. However, some small print/rare books can even be difficult to track down online.

  • Does it have sentimental or monetary value? I barely ever get rid of books given as gifts or ones that I acquired at a special event or at a special time.

  • How thick is it? Sadly with so little space on offer it's the fattest books which are easier to dispose of since they take up more room. I love immersing myself in a long involving book, but many big books now I make sure to only purchase e-copies of.

Usually it's only the process of disposing of books which is painful. Once they are gone I don't really miss them. There are always more coming in.

How do you make your book culling decisions? Have you ever let go of a book and then really regretted it?  

Posted
AuthorEric Karl Anderson