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.