Sunday, May 09, 2010

Sunday Salon: Weeding the Bookshelves

Letting go of books has never been my strong suit. I tend to want to hang onto them. Perhaps I will reread them one day. Or maybe the books have sentimental value. Plus, I like the look of a full bookcase, or several in my case. Unfortunately, I only have so many bookshelves, and there just isn't enough shelf space for all the books my husband and I own. For the moment, let us forget that I continue to bring in books, despite that little fact. That's a topic for another time.

As a result of my overflowing shelves, I knew I needed to part with a few books. And since it's rare that the mood to weed my shelves overtakes me, when it did, I knew I had to jump on the feeling while it lasted. I mostly targeted books I have no intention of rereading or those that I am not especially attached to. It may not look like much: three boxes and nearly three fourths of another one full of books. I didn't even touch my TBR room (okay, so I peeked into the jungle of books I call my TBR room and was suddenly overcome with the desire to take a nap). I am saving that task for another day.

The boxes are sitting in the living room awaiting my husband's approval. After all, I am not the only person in the house who has a hard time letting go of books (I have to give him credit though for the one book he added to the giveaway pile). There were a few others I could say goodbye to, but those tended to be series books of series I am still reading. I figure I might want to keep them handy as a reference point. Yeah, right. Any excuse.

Now to decide what to do with them all . . . My first thought was to give them away here on my blog, but considering how many books there are, I really can't afford the postage. My second thought was to give them away to a charity of some sort, perhaps a thrift store. Regardless, I had better get the books out of the house soon or else I may change my mind . . .

Do you hold onto books or give them away? Do you ever donate books to charity or to a specific group?

This Week In Reading Mews:

Currently Reading:
Hard Rain Falling
by Don Carpenter

Next Up:
The Singer's Gun by Emily St. John Mandel
The Turning by by Helen Ellis

Recent Additions
to the TBR Room (all books bought by me):
by Jim Butcher
Girl in Translation
by Jean Kwok
Let the World Spin
by Colum McCann
The City & the City by China Mieville

Reviews Posted:

The Killing of Mindi Quintana by Jeffrey A. Cohen
Beautiful Assassin by Michael C. White

Posts of Interest This Week:

Los Angeles Times Festival of Books, 2010
In Which I Have a Change of Heart . . . About Fish (at least the live kind)

This Week's Upcoming Reviews:
Mortal Prey by John Sanford
Twilight: The Graphic Novel, Volume 1 by Stephanie Meyer& Young Kim
Scalped by Jason Aaron & R.M. Guéra
Hellblazer: Chas - The Knowledge by Simon Oliver and Goran Sudžuka

© 2010, Wendy Runyon of Musings of a Bookish Kitty. All Rights Reserved.If you're reading this on a site other than Musings of a Bookish Kitty or Wendy's feed, be aware that this post has been stolen and is used without permission.


  1. Like you, letting go of books has never been my strong suit, but still I have to get rid of some or else I won't have space for more books to come, LOL.

    I usually give those books away to my friends first. :)

  2. I have a very tough time doing that too, the last I did that was...never. That said I know I should let go off books I am not going to read, but I just cannot.

    You are very brave :)

  3. I have a hard time getting rid of books but my extra books go to the local library and/or a nursing home.

  4. Congratulations on letting go!

    I periodically cull a box or two from the shelves, but lately I have been bringing far more into the house than I allow to leave it. I think books become my friends and there is comfort in seeing them fill the shelves. Silly, huh?

    Hope you have a great week, Wendy!!

  5. I pretty much hold onto them, but I've got to learn to let go before they take over our house!

  6. I have a REALLY hard time of letting a book go once it hits my bookshelves and only then it's to someone who would give it a good home like my mom.

  7. Wendy, give your books to your local library's Friends group or booksale box. They will cull them for what they would like for their own shelves, then sell the rest and then use that money to purchase more literature of all media types for their users. That way you are benefiting the library and the people who love to buy books but have limited funds.

  8. I pass books onto my mom, Anna, or my friend Terrie (a nonblogger). Or I give them away on the blog, or I donate them to the library for their monthly library sale, which helps support programs at the library.

  9. We just went through this process a month or two ago, and it was so LIBERATING!!! Some of the books I donated, some went to recycling (didn't think anyone wanted old Accounting textbooks). I love it when I can see the spines of all my beloved books!

  10. I am the exact same way - it actually pains me to let go of books. I do get the urge to "de-clutter" every once in a while and when I do, I go with it quickly before I change my mind. I have several boxes that I need to decide what to do with. I thought about donating them to the library, but would also love to be able to give them to an organization for the elderly, or who may not have resources to obtain books. Just not sure where or who that would be.

  11. I have a LOT of trouble giving up books, too. Even ones I don't REALLY love. Just because if someone comes and asks me to suggest a book for them, I like to be able to look over my shelves and pull one out. But... I seriously need to get over that!

  12. I've been getting better recently at getting rid of books, I just made another pass through to try and make room for books from BEA.

  13. I've always had a really hard time giving books away as well. I know that I really need to prune my shelves, but I never know if there will come a time when I want to read something again, or go back to look at something for reference. I do know that things are rapidly getting out of control in the book department, and I will need to do something very soon!! Great post, it gave me a wave of courage to do some cleaning!!

  14. Great post, Wendy. I make heavy use of Paperbackswap but that just keeps my bookshelves at capacity! If I ever had to weed them ... that would be difficult.

    I recommend donating to your local library. With all the funding cuts in recent years, they need all the help they can get!

  15. I will say that I am not very attached to most of the books that come through here. Some, but not a lot of them. I donate to my former workplace, the library. In fact, lately I've been walking in each week carrying a bag of books to donate. They sell them on their booksale shelf or send them off to the bookstore that is run by volunteers that benefits the libary bottom line.

    I have also been a member of Bookmooch and Paperback Swap. I found though that I ended up with huge amounts of credits and was mostly sending out instead of getting from others. I'm kind of picky about how my books look, so I have a tendency to buy them new.

    I'm also discovering that I like having giveaways on my blog. In fact, I've got one going now. Stop by and see if these are books you are interested in. :-)

  16. As there are no charity shops or used bookshops here, my only way to weed my collection is through Bookmooch. Bit that does involve paying for postage, so it has to be done slowly. Good luck to you, Wendy! I imagine it wasn't an easy decision.

  17. My place of choice when getting rid of books is always the public library. I know if they don't have a need for it, they'll either sell it at their fundraiser or pass it on to another library.

    It's like giving away a friend, isn't it? Hard to do but it's nice to spread the joy.


  18. I know what you mean about having to tackle the "weeding the bookshelves" project when the mood strikes, because it's so difficult to do it!

    I did a good bit of culling before we moved 1.5 years ago, but I'm sure I need to do it again. I don't keep too many books after I read them these days, so the real issue is books I haven't read yet. It can be hard to admit that buying some of them could have been a lapse of judgment and I may NOT read them after all.

    Perhaps one day you'll feel ambitious enough to tackle the TBR room, but it sounds like you did make a dent (and some space) in your bookshelves anyway, Wendy!

  19. LOL! I wrote almost the same post Sunday :o)

    I almost brought "City & the City" by China Mieville home with me from the bookstore this weekend too.

  20. I forgot to mention that I give almost all my weeded books to the Friends of my local public library so they can sell them and make money. There are a few book lovers in my family and I generally send them a list of books I'm giving away and if they want them they can let me know. I make it very clear though that they are under no obligation to take any of them and don't even need to respond unless they want something from the list.

  21. Good for you Wendy. I don't have trouble parting with books I've read, as I rarely would reread anything.

    I donate my books to our library booksale after family takes what they want and i go a few giveaways on occasion.

  22. I used to keep every book, but lately have started only keeping the ones I totally loved and the classics and the ones I think my kids will want to read eventually. The others - especially ARCs - I give away on my blog or to friends.

    Good for you for tackling this job - I know it's not easy! What are the plans for the TBR boxes? Are you still planning to read them all?

  23. I know I can't keep every books I've read. So I tried to keep those books that I know I'm going to re-read again. Those I kept tend to be my most favorite. And I usually re-read series books. I'm series reader, can you tell ;) And those books that I won't re-read I give them away to friends first. And then donated to the library.

    Look like you've lot of reading ahead of you. I notice you read Jim Butcher's books. Have you ever read his wife, shannon K Butcher's books? She write in romantic suspense genre, which I think that is one of genre you read? Happy Reading!

  24. Melody - That is very true! And a good incentive for giving away books. :-)

    Violet - It's so hard to let them go. I keep thinking I'll want them around for something later, I just don't always know what.

    Book Dilettante - I hadn't thought of a nursing home, but that's a good idea.

    Molly - Haha! Thank you. I've been bringing in far too many books too. :-S I don't think you're silly at all, or else we both are. I find such comfort in being surrounded by books.

    Kathy - It isn't easy letting go, I know. It's only been in recent years I've gotten to the point where I am able to--and that's only sometimes. Probably not often enough.

    Jen - It's always nice when you can find a good home for a book. If there weren't so many, I'd happily give the books away to all of you, but hopefully where I do take them will be good enough.

  25. Pam - My first thought was to give them to the local public library, but they are not accepting book donations at this time. It's a good idea though!

    Serena - I will be seeing my parents in June and they'll be getting a bag of books. Of course, I often loan them books I want back too, and I'm not sure how helpful that is at culling the shelves. It's like a tease--I see that empty shelf space and think I have more room for books than I actually do.

    Sandy - There's a couple that went into the recycle bin. It is liberating in a way, giving away books, and I definitely enjoy seeing the different spines on the shelf. I should probably rearrange the shelves now and then to bring the back books forward (my shelves are double stacked where possible).

    April - Exactly! You have to do it while you're in the mood to or else it won't get done.

    I would loved to have donated the books to the library, but they won't accept them right now. I like the idea of donating them to a group that could really use them, but as you suggested, deciding which one isn't always easy.

    Aarti - I have that problem too, not wanting to part with a book because I might run into someone who it would be perfect for. I try to tell myself that I have plenty of other books I could loan someone if the need arose. It doesn't always work though.

    Jen (Devourer of Books) - That's a smart move! I should have thought to do that before going to the LA Times Festival of Books. Of course, those books went into the TBR room, which is already bulging at the door. I need to work on that room next. Some of those books have been in there for years and it's time I decide if I still want to read them or not.

  26. Heather - I am not a big rereader, but there's always that thought in the back of mind that someday I may want to reread something. I have far more books than I have shelf space for still. I still have work to do. I wish you luck with your pruning if you decide to do it!

    Laura - I love the idea of PBS but I really need to cut back on the books coming in and I'm worried that would be too much of a temptation. I'm having trouble staying out of the bookstores as it is. If I did use PBS, it'd probably be cheaper though! LOL I'm not always rational in my thinking.

    Kay - It's wonderful that you don't have that book hoarding tendency that so many of the rest of us seem to have. I wish I could be that way. If we ever get around to actually moving, I imagine I'll feel that way. :-)

    I love hosting giveaways too! And I'd gladly give all the books I am getting rid of away, but I just can't afford all that postage right now. Ho hum. At least there are places around here that will take the books, even if my library won't.

    Ana - Thanks, Ana. I still am undecided on the "maybe" pile books. I need to go through those again and decide if they are worth keeping around or not.

    I thought about having giveaways and spreading them out, but since there are so many books and my inability to remain firm in my resolve to part with them, it's best if I get rid of them all together. I imagine if I didn't have any other options, I'd have to do it that way though.

    CJ - That would have been my first choice too, only my library isn't accepting book donations right now. I called a few local organizations and have gotten mixed responses. I'm pretty sure now where they'll end up. Hopefully someone will get use of them!

    Florinda - It definitely isn't easy for me. One of my motivations for weeding the shelves is with our move in mind (I'm still not sure it will be happening, but the city hasn't given up hope).

    Like you, my biggest issue will be the unread books. I have so many of them and although I go through them once or twice a year to pull out books I'm no longer interested in reading, I'm at the point where I still want to read most, if not all of them. The problem is I'm only one person and I don't read all that fast and there are tons of books. I REALLY need to curtail my book buying.

  27. Terri - It must be time for spring cleaning of the bookshelves. :-)
    I've been stalking the bookstores, waiting for Mieville's book to come out in paperback. LOL I figured my husband wants to read it too so that was a good excuse to buy a copy.

    You all are making me wonder what's wrong with my library for not taking book donations. I imagine they have a good reason, but I don't know what it could be.

    Diane - You'd think I wouldn't have trouble either, given I'm not a big rereader myself, but for some reason I seem to think I should be or might be given the right circumstances. I'm too caught up in the "what if's" for my own good.

    My dad once told me that he wants to pick over the giveaways too, but since he lives over 400 miles away, that makes it kind of difficult. Although, maybe I could send him a list and take the books to him next time I see him . . .

    I wish my library was accepting book donations right now, but they aren't.

    Carrie - I think the reasons you give for keeping books are good criteria. I am better at giving away books than I used to be, but I could be more ruthless.

    I still haven't managed to tackle the TBR books yet. That's my next goal. It's always harder to go through those than the books I've read because more often than not, I still want to read the TBR books. My problem is that I have so many. :-S

    Julia - I seem to want to reread a lot of books even though I so rarely do. I rationalize that eventually I might get around to it, but it hasn't happened yet. I've got a little stack of books that are going to friends, but most I don't really know anyone locally who would read them. Hopefully they will find good homes eventually.

    I love the Dresden Files books. I'm behind by three now, I think, which makes me a bit sad. I need to get caught up. I have a little crush on Harry. :-) I didn't know his wife was an author too. I'll have to check her books out. Thanks for the head's up!

  28. I used to have over 4K books (yes, I really wrote 4,000!) but now just have a few hundred. Once I've read the book I give it to a friend, someone in my book club, a family member or I donate to my local library used bookstore. It was hard to let go of books at first but I felt really good about donating 33 boxes of books to my library and now I focus on reading instead of tracking all of my books, shelving them, acquiring them, etc. I'm back to putting the focus on reading vs. acquiring and I like that! Good luck with your shelf cleaning. It is a difficult process to let go of our books.

  29. Hi Wendy, coincidentally I was thinking of clearing my shelves too while I was in the showers. (I always get inspired in showers--LOL!)

    I am thinking the same thing i.e. book giveaway but shipping costs is something I worry about as well.

    Since I am contemplating of upgrading my camera, I would most likely try to do a "book sale" to channel some funds into my "camera fund." Still, I'm quite reluctant to part with my books. I have close to about 1,500 and shelf space has already ran out. My books are sitting in plastic/paper bags, floor, everywhere. Not good...

  30. I have a dreadful time parting with books too. It does seem like they become friends.
    I am currently enjoying listening to a book a week thru my library's participation in wilbor online audio.

    My library only has a book sale once or twice a year and doesn't have alot of space to store the sale books.
    I have heard some hospitals have libraries for both adults and kids. Also maybe the homeless shelters. I think someone mentioned nursing homes too. All might be good places to donate.

    Congrats on your cleanout so far!

  31. I've changed once again to the "hang onto my books" personality. For years I swapped them immediately, but now I find myself collecting again. My suggestion is to donate them to your library for their library sale.

  32. It's so hard to cull books! but must be done at times. I like the online swap sites- the postage doesn't feel too much when I'm getting books back, as well (although lately, like Kay, I find I have way more credits than I know what to do with). Occasionally I give books away on my blog, or take them to a local book-swap, but again, there's usually not anything there I want. Now when I have enough book discards to fill a bag, I donate it to the charity shop, keeping the receipt to write it off. I wish I had a used bookstore nearby to trade them in! that would be best, I think.

  33. I used to be very attached to books but not so much anymore. There are some books that I'll never let go of - like absolute favorites, books that have a special meaning, etc. - but others end up going to friends, the library, bookmooch, etc. I try to do a weeding of the shelves twice a year!

  34. Oh I hear ya, Wendy. I have three 6 foot shelves that are mine and they're mostly double stacked. I'm trying so hard to let some of the ones I've read go--and even some of the ones that I've had for years and never reached for--but it's tough! I even have the excuse of "I didn't like it the first time but maybe it's timing and I'll love it the second." :)

    I don't have to run anything by hubby as he doesn't read much (and I'm not allowed to touch his Grisham, Ludlum, Patterson books), but he does have his own 6 footer full of textbooks--many for classes that he dropped or didn't even take! Drives me crazy but guess I don't have room to talk.

    What to do with them? Sometimes I take them to Half Price Books and then cry over the amount they give me. Or take them to the library so they can sell them at their Friends of the Library sale--which is where I picked most of mine up anyway.

  35. Kathleen - I think I've got about 3000 books in the house, a combination of books read and unread. With a possible move coming up, I figure I should start early on culling the stacks. I can't begin to imagine how many boxes of books I'll be packing!

    Alice - I get inspired in the shower too! LOL

    I may try to give some of them away. We'll see. Selling them to raise money for your camera fund is a great idea!

    Carla - It really does. I like knowing they are there if I decide to revisit them. I hadn't thought of hospitals as a place to donate, but that's a good idea.

    Christine - It seems to come and go for me as well. I wish I could donate them to the library, but they aren't accepting books at this time. :-(

    Jeane - Yes, sometimes it must be done. I used to take a lot of my books to the local used bookstore, but they closed earlier this year. They probably wouldn't take most of the ones I want to be rid of anyway though. Ho hum.

    Iliana - I'm getting better at parting with books, but it's still difficult sometimes.

    Trish - You and me both! It really is hard parting with those books. I didn't realize for years that my husband was also so attached to books. He went on making me think it was all me. LOL


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