We’re downsizing our home, our lifestyle, etc. etc. etc. Everyone always talks about how liberating it is to release yourself of your possessions. And it is, indeed, spiritually a relief to let go of many of the things I’ve had cluttering my life for years.
Downsizing my library of the 900+ books that are in it? Not so easy.
I originally had listed on BookMooch and Amazon.com a slew of books that I had read and enjoyed and was now done with. That made up the 200 or so books that I started out listing on BookMooch. Then I listed books from the 5 boxes of books that my friend Inga gave me (*cough*). Then I listed John’s unwanted/already read books.
That brought me up to about 350 books listed in various places. Out of over 900. The bulk of the remainder are books that I have not read or which I use for reference. The reference books are easy– figure out which ones I *really* need, and get rid of the rest.
There are books that are hard to make decisions on because they’re my favorite edition/translation. The Norton Authoritative Editions of Canterbury Tales and Jane Eyre come to mind for these– they have scholarly articles at the back of the book that are interesting, as well as large historical context introductions. The Tolkien edition of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight– stays, even though I have two other print editions (one a translation, the other in M.E.), and can download a translation of the work for free over the Internet. The Riverside Chaucer and Shakespeares– go into storage. I want to keep them, just not with me.
But what do I do with Ulysses, James Joyce’s big work that everybody intends to finish reading sometime in their lifetime? I have not just the book itself, but my notebook from reading it, The Bloomsday Book by Harry Blamires, and James Joyce’s Ulysses— two additional books of analysis and criticism to help me understand this tome. I continue to hold out hope that someday I will finish this book and get out of it what others have gotten. Paradise Lost was a sleeper hit for me– I didn’t like it the first time I read it, but I gave it a second chance and fell in love. I believe Ulysses could be the same way. Being “a person who tries to read Ulysses” is yet another part of my identity that I can’t quite figure out in the new life I’m embarking on.
But the most painful part of all, I must say, are giving away or selling the books I haven’t read yet. Whether they’re cheap romance novels or medieval volumes, I’m having a hard time letting go of books that I bought, wanted to read, and never quite got around to. World War Z by Max Brooks and The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini are good examples– both highly popular on BookMooch, but I haven’t been able to dig into them, because of time and inclination. I want to read these books, but I simply haven’t had the time.
I should have taken some time-lapse photos of my office as I clear it out– bookcases are half-empty right now, and piles of “stuff” are on the floor.
The list of 62 books that I have marked as “read before I go” (hahahahah…. I can read about a third of these in the time I have) are below. And yes, many are cheesy romance novels– at least I have a chance of getting through them!
Continue reading The Pain of Downsizing a Library