Musings From A Bookmammal

Musing Mondays—Making Space

17 Comments

Click here to play along!

Click here to play along!

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:

my bookcase in my office/loft/library

my bookcase in my office/loft/library

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!

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Author: bookmammal

I love books, reading, writing, cooking, eating, reading while eating, and sharing thoughts about all of the above–plus a bit more! I usually post about topics relating to books and literacy during the week, and then participate in a variety of non-bookish memes on the weekend. Please feel free to join in! Some random things about me– –I have multiple bookshelves in every room of my home except the bathroom. They’re all filled to bursting. They help to make my house my home. –I have two cats who I love dearly, but who I definitely do NOT dress in human clothing. Ever. –I’ve never had a cavity. –I make a mean spaghetti sauce. –I’m a newcomer to yoga and I love it. –My day is not complete without a little chocolate.

17 thoughts on “Musing Mondays—Making Space

  1. I have decided to invest in a new bookshelf this year. I made the mistake earlier this year of over-enthusiastic weeding and when I went looking for a particular book discovered that I have given it away. I also remember where and when I read certain books and I do love seeing them sat on my bookshelf so while I read a lot on my e-reader there will never be a time when I don’t buy physical books too.

  2. Yes, I’m still a buyer of physical books, but nowadays I borrow most of the books I read from libraries. I only buy those that I can’t get from libraries or those special ones that I must own 🙂
    This year I finally decided to do some real book weeding and I gave lots of books away to friends and local libraries and now I have only one (big) bookshelf – this is part of my attempt to become more minimalist and declutter my house.

  3. I still buy real books some of the time. But since I live in a small apt. two years ago I invested in a Nook and a Kindle and do a lot of my buying books for them, and I also download a lot of free books on them as well. But one of my favorite things to do is visit our local Barnes and Noble and meander through it and find books. I don’t think I will ever completely give up my read books made of paper, because I love being surrounded by my books.

    • I also enjoy going to the local B & N and finding new books–in fact, I got a gift card for Christmas and that’s exactly what I did! And I agree-being surrounded by your own books is a great feeling/

  4. Before I got my Nook, I would intentionally pass along books I read. There’s always someone who would enjoy it! As a matter of fact, that is the biggest drawback to having an ereader.

  5. I still buy paper books but buy just as many eBooks. I have two walls of shelves in what was my living room/dining room but is now my library/office. I have to weed out too and it is a very hard job. My used books go to my library used book store.

    • Your library/office sounds like a wonderful place to get work done–that is, if you’re not distracted by wanting to read the books that line your walls! Luckily, when I sit at my desk at home, my back is to most of my bookshelves in that room!

  6. If only I had seen this post about 8 hours ago, before I started my biggest book cull to date. I asked myself many of the same questions. If I had read them, they were only kept if I was fairly certain I would read them again at some point (I re-read far too often). And if I hadn’t read them I seriously questioned if I still had a desire to read them or not.
    I also found myself getting caught up in memories as I sifted through them. My book buying ban is going to be incredibly difficult I think.

    • I am an unapologetic re-reader–it’s one of the reasons I find it so difficult to make more space on my shelves! You just never know when you’ll feel the urge to read something one more time . . . 🙂

  7. My weeding process sounds a lot like yours! I’ve gotten really good at weeding from my finished books. I feel like my shelves now really do just have books that I read and loved and think I would want to give or recommend to others. I have a terrible time weeding out the unread books though. It feels like tossing away so much potential!

    • Unread potential–that’s a great way to put it! I will say that I have to be pretty confident that I now have absolutely no interest in reading something before I’ll put it in the give-away pile.

  8. Even though one of my jobs is working at a public library, I find it very hard to weed out books. I still own a bunch from childhood. Some of the jackets are torn and their spines may be worn, but I guess my attachment and memories are too strong to toss these old faded friends sitting wobbly on the shelf. 🙂

    • I agree! I have a spot on one of my shelves for my best-loved childhood books–all my old Dr. Seuss books are there, my first copy of Charlotte’s Web, and a few others. There is NO WAY I would ever give those up–too many memories!

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