Friday, July 8, 2011

Minimizing My Library

What if you had to reduce your library from 600 to 100 books in one week? Recently I had to make just such a choice. When we left Brazil in 2009, we left all of our earthly possessions behind. Since our return to South America continues to be delayed I went back this spring to pack things up. I decided to keep only what would fit into five suitcases. My friends were horrified that I used so much of that space for books, but, honestly, I had more affection for those than for any knick-knacks.
Some of the decisions were easy. Ten percent of the books were missing or damaged beyond repair. At least a hundred books had never been read and were easy to give up because I had no emotional attachment to them. I had over 200 hundred children’s books, but since my youngest is now fourteen, I let most of them go. (That made me wince a little because I love children’s lit.) That left about 250 to agonize over.

I found several seminary students who wanted my theology books so I was glad to give them a good home (though I kept a handful of favorites). The non-fiction was easy to let go (again, for lack of emotional attachment). I cut my WWII library way down because I knew I could get most of those books through the library here in the U.S.

Surprisingly, most classics (including my beloved Trollope) did not make the cut because I knew I could replace them easily. However, anything by Dorothy Sayers, G.K. Chesterton or Elizabeth Goudge was sacrosanct. When it came down to it, why did the Clyde Robert Bulla’s books get left and Enid Blyton’s chosen? And why were Helen Roseveare’s biographies the only ones selected from all my Christian books? My choices may have been based on impulse rather than common sense, but all I know is that now that I’m surrounded by these old friends, I feel “at home” again.


Annette W. said...

Wow! Good for you being able to make tough choices. We recently gave up maybe 20ish books...nothing compared to you!

bekahjane said...

oh it is so difficult to weed thru books, a very personal and anguishing thing to see a book leave my home..

Sarah M. said...

I can only imagine the agony you must have felt as you sorted the book. I look around my bookshelves and wondered... which 100 would I keep if I had to make the same choice. Today (before I read your post) I actually culled out four books. Sometimes it's hard to let go even books I've never read because I keep telling myself I *might* one day read them, or if I get rid of them I'll regret it... As it stands I think I could do with some elimination. Thanks for the encouragement.

GretchenJoanna said...

I admire you - and your system or intuition or whatever, for how to decide, is helpful to me. I am in a long and similar process here.