Musing Mondays is a weekly meme hosted by MizB that asks you to muse about one of several “bookish” questions… or, you can just ramble on about anything you like that pertains to books! You can join in by clicking the graphic above. Go ahead–it’s fun!
Here’s my Musing Monday ramble for this week:
I’m in my usual “get organized” mode as the year winds down, and part of that routine is clearing some space on my bookcases–I have eight of them throughout my home. I regularly borrow books from my local library, but I buy A LOT of books—both new and used. About 2-3 times a year I find that I’ve reached what I call “critical mass” on my bookshelves, and so I take a tour of my bookcases and weed out as many titles as I can to make room for the new. I never end up removing as many as I thought I would. It also usually ends up taking longer than I planned.
Weeding out my books is tough for me—but what a wonderful problem to have! I like to own real books. Books are definitely comfort objects to me, and I love the way they look on my shelves–but I also like to break up the rows of books by leaving room on the shelves for some other objects like photos and plants. I’m also a big fan of re-reading books I’ve enjoyed—there are some novels that I’ve probably read ten times over the years. However, I definitely don’t buy or keep books just to have them—I want the books on my shelves to be the ones that I’ve enjoyed and that have meaning to me.
So when I start thinning out my books, I ask myself some questions—Did I like the book? Do I think I may want to read it again? If I haven’t already read it, is it still on my TBR list, or have my interests changed? For nonfiction especially, do I think I may need to refer to information in the book? Does the book bring back a good memory of where I was when I read it, or who I was with, or what I was doing at the time? If I read it long ago, do I even still remember the plot?
If I answer YES to even one of these questions, the book is staying put.
Books that get set aside are the usually the ones that I bought on a whim and just never read—maybe my interests have changed, or maybe I started to read it and it just never caught my interest.
What I find interesting is that focusing on individual titles on my shelves can bring back vivid memories of where I was and what was going on when I read a particular book for the first time. For example– I have a set of old paperback novels by Howard Fast—his “Immigrant” series—that I read one summer long ago when I was in college. I can clearly remember sitting out by the lake with those books while on vacation with my family. My mom was reading them, too—I forget which of us was ahead of the other, but we were careful not to give away any spoilers, and we were so involved with the characters in this multi-generational family saga that there were times that my dad thought we were talking about real people. When I look at that set of four beat-up paperbacks, I’m instantly transported back to that summer at the lake. Obviously, those books aren’t going anywhere.
My book weeding is now done for the time being—I’ve got three bags of books to take to my local used bookstore in the next few days, and, more importantly, I’ve got a bit more room on my shelves for all the new books and authors I’m going to discover in the new year!
How about you? If you’re still a buyer of physical books, how often do you find that you need to clean out your shelves? How do you decide what stays and what goes? Or, are you someone who reads a book and then immediately passes it on? Do any of the books on your shelves bring back any particular memories for you? Please share!