The Impossible Project: Weeding My Bookshelves

On Facebook and Twitter, I always find images with memes of how you can never have too many books, and jokes about spending a lot of time and money in a bookstore. There’s no such thing as too many books, just too few bookshelves. That kind of thing. But one thing we have to take into account is the welfare of the books we are bringing into our homes.

I live underground. I’m in a basement apartment, and even though my books don’t risk sun damage, it still isn’t the most ideal place for my books to live. Especially since I ran out of bookshelf space a long, long time ago.

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My books are everywhere. Piles of them are on chairs, on the tops of overflowing bookcases, in my closet, in bins and bags. I even still have some at my mother’s house from before I moved away, two moves ago. I had started to make a blog library, the Bookwyrm Treasury, to catalog all my books and allow friends and acquaintances the opportunity to borrow them, since most of the people I know aren’t book hoarders like me. But after reading Marie Kondo’s book, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, I looked around my whole apartment, which didn’t take too long since it’s one room, and realized I had a problem.

I have too much stuff, and I don’t even know what all that stuff is. My books are just sitting on my bookcases and in their damaging piles, the ones on the bottom getting crushed by the fictional worlds and real weight of the ones on top of them. I can’t even decide what ones to read since there are so many to choose from. So, I decided I needed to do something about it.

One day when I couldn’t take it anymore, the not knowing which books I had, not having a clean, organized apartment, and not having a safe environment for my books, I went through one of my bookcases. Just one, but it was a big one. I ended up with a pile of twenty books that I’ve since donated down the street at a book donation bin, and about 50 or so others that I don’t want to get rid of because I might read them even though I know I should get rid of them.

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In this quest to organize my life and my shelves, I noticed duplicates of books, some which I have no intention of reading any time soon. This is a result of buying books carelessly without knowing what I already have. That’s why I’m determined to make my library smaller, so taking care of my books will be manageable.

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If you use the KonMari Method, you would put each book in your hand, and if you felt a spark of joy, you would keep it. If not, it goes. I’m not quite ready to give up so many of my books yet, but there are some titles I know will stay on the Keep pile forever – the Harry Potter series, The Little Prince, and The Natural History of Dragons. These are just a few of my favorites. Not only are they fantastic reads, but all the physical copies of the books were added to my shelves in special circumstances, as gifts or self bought when I was with friends.

If it isn’t too late for you, start with a small library and work your way up. Catalog your books as you go so you don’t end up with duplicates. At least one of those copies will be neglected since it’s not needed. In the meantime, I’ll let you know how I do with my weeding project. Maybe I’ll get my library blog up and running again so that I can share my books with the people I know and trust. It’s so much harder when there’s so many and I keep adding on to the pile before I take care of the books I already have.

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