A couple of months ago I decided to go through my book collection and purge books. I was finding it hard to find places to store books. I had them in some drawers in my bureau and books stacked in top of them. I had in a tall box laying on top of each other. Not a great way to store them. I even had them stacked on the top shelf of my bedroom closet. It was time to comb through my books. Through a friend, I found someone who was able to help me whittle my book collection down to a manageable size.
I had thought at the start that I wasn’t going to get rid of any of my poetry anthologies. I like collecting them and I must have had around 45. But then I realized that I didn’t always read them. I had an anthology of German poetry in translation that I never bothered to open since I had it. I also had a huge anthology of poems written in Yiddish that I stuck in a drawer. I decided it was time to get rid of them.
I also purged some of my bigger books. I had a copy of Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norris by Suzanne Clark that was sitting on my bedroom end table. It’s over a 1,000 pages and I really had to think if I would really get around to reading it. Big books sometimes intimidate me. In the end, I decided to part with it. On the other hand, I decided to keep the 832 paged Underworld by Don De Lillo, partly because he’s a writer I like and because a friend highly recommend to me. She read it twice, so I think I can eventually read it one time.
The good thing about going through your books is you find out what you actually have. I found out that I had 2 copies of Aaron’s Rod by D. H. Lawrence. I really only needed one, so I kept the Penguin Twentieth -Century Penguin edition partly because it was in better shape. I also found in has a copy of The Remains of the Day. I loved the film and had forgotten that I had the book. I have since read it and it was one of the best books I’ve read all year.
For a couple of weeks my apartment had boxes filled with books. I think I had cleared out a third of my collection. It was hard not to go through the boxes seeing if I wanted to keep some of the books I had boxed to get rid of but I knew that would be counter productive. In the end, books are only objects. I love looking at the books on my shelf and in piles on my dresser but if I couldn’t find the book I was looking for, then it wasn’t a good system. I hope the guy who sold them on Craigslist found good homes for them. Meanwhile, I have bought a couple of books since then, but my collection isn’t overgrown. And it’s always a good thing to move forward.
Have any of you had to whittle your book collection. How did you go about it? Let me know in the comments below.