The Pain of Downsizing a Library

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 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!

Updated because my original post didn’t have working links to LibraryThing.

The Best American Travel Writing 2005 (The Best American Series)

A Most Unconventional Courtship (Historical) by Louise Allen

Adored by Tilly Bagshawe

Simply Unforgettable by Mary Balogh

Crusader’s Lady (Harlequin Historical Series) by Lynna Banning

The Gift of Fear by Gavin De Becker

Games People Play: The basic handbook of transactional analysis. by Eric Md Berne

One Night with a Spy by Celeste Bradley

The Gay Place by Billy Lee Brammer

Klondike Doctor (Historical) by Kate Bridges

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War by Max Brooks

The Book of Taltos by Steven Brust

Unexpected Son (Hometown Reunion) by Carroll

Weep No More, My Lady by Mary Higgins Clark

Mission of Gravity by Hal Clement

Reluctant Daddy (Hometown Reunion) (Hometown Reunion) by Conrad

Those Baby Blues (Hometown Reunion) (Hometown Reunion) by Conrad

Dog Days by Ana Marie Cox

Lone Star Bride (Harlequin Historical Series) by Carolyn Davidson

Scientific Papers and Presentations by Martha Davis

How to Write and Publish a Scientific Paper by Day

Trouble in High Heels by Christina Dodd

Fletcher’s Woman (Harlequin Historical Series) by Carol Finch

Innocence And Impropriety (Harlequin Historical Series) by Diane Gaston

Staying Dead by Laura Anne Gilman

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

Drop Dead Gorgeous: A Novel by Linda Howard

The Raven Prince[hardcover] by elizabeth hoyt

Pay It Forward by Catherine Ryan Hyde

158 Pound Marriage by John irving

Ashblane’s Lady (Harlequin Historical Series) by Sophia James

Apers by Mark Jansen/ Barbara Day Zinicola

The Trial by Franz Kafka

Elements of the Scientific Paper: A Step-by-Step Guide for Students and Professionals by Michael J. Katz

Bride Of Shadow Canyon (Harlequin Historical Series) by Stacey Kayne

Mustang Wild (Harlequin Historical Series) by Stacey Kayne

Beau Crusoe (Harlequin Historical Series) by Carla Kelly

High Plains Bride (Historical) by Jenna Kernan

His Duty, Her Destiny (Historical) by Juliet Landon

To Distraction (Bastion Club) by Stephanie Laurens

Commanded To His Bed (Harlequin Historical Series) by Denise Lynn

A Good Yarn (Mira Hardbacks) by Debbie Macomber

Medicine and the Internet: Introducing Online Resources and Terminology by Bruce McKenzie

Roads : Driving America’s Great Highways by Larry McMurtry

The Wicked Earl (Harlequin Historical Series) by Margaret Mcphee

Home Comforts: The Art and Science of Keeping House by Cheryl Mendelson

Island of the Sequined Love Nun by Christopher Moore

Lamb: The Gospel According to Biff, Christ’s Childhood Pal by Christopher Moore

Ringworld by Larry Niven

Oath of Fealty by Larry Niven/ Jerry Pournelle

Fight Club: A Novel by Chuck Palahniuk

Warrior Or Wife (Harlequin Historical Series) by Lyn Randal

Shinju by Laura Joh Rowland

Pope Joan by Emmanual Royidis/ Lawrence Durrell

The North Light Pocket Guide to Painting Trees (North Light Pocket Guides) by Patricia Seligman

The Lawman’s Bride (Harlequin Historical Series) by Cheryl St.John

Ordeal by Hunger: The Story of the Donner Party by George R. Stewart

The Vagabond Duchess (Harlequin Historical Series) by Claire Thornton

All the King’s Men (Harvest Book) by Robert Penn Warren

Her Irish Warrior (Historical) by Michelle Willingham

Once In A Blue Moon (Harlequin Next) by Lenora Worth

3 thoughts on “The Pain of Downsizing a Library

  1. Once the townhouse nonsense has been finished up, the next project is seriously whittling down the stuff in this house – I could probably ditch everything *except* the books… Good luck and congrats on this project.

  2. I can soooo relate. Books fill my home, too — many of them the same “cheap romance novels” you speak of. Even though I’m an English teacher with advanced degrees (and have read enough of Chaucer and Shakespeare for two lifetimes!) I still love the happy endings in those romance novels and wish that kind of wonderful feeling could be experienced by everyone. That’s why I now write them — I’m doing my part to promote personal happiness. 🙂

    I hope the downsizing goes well for you, and that the de-cluttering makes for a more serene environment.Though parting with books probably feels like cutting off an arm, you’ll likely be more content afterward. And if you reeeaaaaally miss a certain book, you could always go buy it again.

    I truly hope you enjoy WARRIOR OR WIFE, when you finally do get a chance to read it.
    Lyn Randal

  3. No fair, Lyn. Now I have to read it before I go!

    Nothing quite like having the author herself drop by one’s blog to say hello! Thanks for the kind thoughts. It really is like kicking out my friends before the party has even started!

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