My home library has reached reverse Thunderdome status: One book enters, two books leave. 🙂
So Monday, while organizing the guest bedroom, I filled a plastic crate with about 25 of my treasured art and art history books. It was difficult emotionally, because I really bond to books as objects and memories.
But I had to ask myself whether I was actively enjoying these books or just using them as a type of visual security blanket. Once I started filling the crate, it became easier to select more books that were unlikely to be an important resource for me in the future.
I prefer to donate my old books to public libraries or schools. For many years, I would gather up a couple of grocery bags of books read over the previous year and haul them to the city library on Montrose Boulevard in Houston. I tried selling some art books at Half Price Books once, but the money I got for them was less than 5% of their original value and the clerks treated me so rudely that I decided re-selling just wasn’t worth the hassle.
Yesterday, I hauled the current book cull to the library of a local art college. The librarian told me the school had been founded only four years ago, so growing their book collection through donations will be a real help.
This morning I am already missing my old friends. But I think they will be happier in a library where lots of people will be reading and enjoying them every week than sitting lonely on a shelf in the guest room.
What role do books as physical objects play in your life? Do you feel like my current brother-in-law, who keeps every book he’s ever read because, “The book has become a part of me, and I can’t imagine being without it.” Or do you feel that most books are a moment of enjoyment or education, to be consumed and absorbed, then passed on to the next reader? And what about e-books? Where do they fit into your library?