March 19, 2011

Pajama Musings - Book hoarding

Everyone who's guilty of owning obscene amounts of books, please raise your hands. Well, alright, a free hand will do as the other one is surly holding on to a book. But seriously, looming and towering stacks of books adorn the homes of many of us book addicts and sooner or later the question is whether to go for a suspended ceiling (and consequently develop a hunch, because this reduces the height of the room considerably) or to get rid of books.
Yes, rid. You read that correctly.

Admittedly I'm often joking about the suspended ceiling, but unfortunately it's not a very realistic scenario for my apartment. My preferred alternative would obviously be to have my very own library in an old turn of the century house, but well, funds are a little low for that. Add the fact that such a library would deserve the finest hardback editions and not paperbacks that, often bought used, look like they've been dragged through half the continent before being shelved.

So we're back to the option of getting rid of books. I'm certainly not talking about all books, mind you. Books from my favorite authors and generally books I love will always have a safe place on my bookshelves, but then there are those that I read once and never look at again. And over time these start to take away much needed space for new books. You get the idea.

So I'm doing two things. I sell them and/or I give them away.

After fighting off the initial separation anxiety, I one day started selling books. And when I realized that the pain wasn't all to bad and how it not only translates into free shelf space but, even better, leaves you with money to purchase new occupants for said shelf, I was hooked. Of course this whole selling and buying and selling again thing is a bit of a catch-22 but you won't hear me complaining. Why would I? I love books.

Apart from selling I also give books away. You know the kind of stuff that's a serious shelf hugger? Well, that goes for books as much as for any other item that no one wants to buy. That means that over time I get sick and tired of waiting for sellers and give whole boxes of books away for charity. I will usually give other things away too, like nick-nacks or DVDs. The emphasis is always on trying to maintain at least a small walkable path through all rooms and not to transform this place into a junk yard of the papery kind.

Now I wonder, how do you cope with your own book mountains?
I'm really curious how other book lovers deal with this, so let me know.


  1. We have a two story house, with 9 foot ceilings. We have four bedrooms, one of them Erich devoted to his books. Seriously, it was a library. he had book cases from floor to ceiling and there were paths to walk between them. My folks were visiting one year, and Dad stopped part way up the stairs to talk to me, and as he looked out into the living room, he noticed the living room ceiling was starting to bow- you guessed it, under the library! Erich started getting rid of books. He gives most of his to Vietnam Veterans. At least someone gets to enjoy them. When my cousin was serving in Afghanistan, we shipped boxes of books to him because he said the troops were desperate for any reading material. We also took them to a used book store and sold them. But it upset Erich to sell them for so little, he'd rather give them away and let others enjoy them.

    On a different but humorous note- Erich broke up with a girl once because she threw out a book. He said anyone who had so little regard for books was not someone he could be with.

  2. Well, so far the downstairs neigbor didn't complain about the ceiling starting to sag, but you never know ...

    Love the anecdote about Erich!!