Thursday, April 26, 2012

Thinning the Bookshelves

Thinning the Shelves

I stand here looking at the sagging bookshelves. Where to begin? It's something that needs doing, but it's always hard to give away some of my books. I've been an avid reader all my life, and the one thing that makes me feel rich is to have bookcases full to bursting with books. (And believe me, they are bursting.) Romance, mystery, historical, nonfiction; a little bit of everything here. I love my books. It is a serious addiction.

Having worked as a book merchandiser for the last 14 years has helped feed that addiction. I open boxes every week and look at all those spanking brand new releases. It's hard to resist reading those back cover blurbs and flyleaf descriptions. I don't resist a lot. Also helping to fill the shelves is my membership in a book club that I've belonged to since high school. You can find all kinds of books that don't come into the stores by browsing the book club's website. More books than you ever knew you needed. Then there is Amazon. Lately I've been downloading books on my Kindle (that keeps the shelves a little less crowded) but there are some books I just have to own in their physical form. There nothing quite like holding a book in your hands. As I said, it makes me feel rich to walk to my bookshelf and have a huge  choice of what to read next.

When we moved 5 years ago, I gave away a lot of books. But as my family will attest, we still moved many boxes of books. Some boxes are still packed away. I recently looked through a few of them and found books I'd forgotten completely about; some I had never read. I have parted with a few, taking them to my local used bookstore, thrift stores, and Friends of the Library sales. I have a shopping bag full of books in my van right now, waiting for me to take them somewhere. I haven't found the nerve to part with them just yet.

But the bookshelves are still sagging with books lined up two and three rows deep. This time of year the writers' group I belong to (Mid-Michigan Romance Writers of America or MMRWA for short) holds a retreat for writers. During the retreat we also have a book basket auction with proceeds going to a local women's shelter. A very worthy cause  for which to give up some of one's books, and I usually do make the sacrifice. I plan to donate at least one bag of books to the auction. It will be hard to decide which ones I can part with; which books I won't ever read again; which books I've bought that I may end up never reading. How do I know I'll never read them? My reading tastes have changed some over the years, but who can say what I may want to read tomorrow? And then I may not be able to find that particular book at the library or bookstore or even on Amazon (though that seems unlikely). But the shelves are seriously sagging, and I've got to do something.

So I promise to fill that bag (okay I didn't say how big a bag) and take it to the retreat this weekend. I'll feel good that I actually did sort through some of the shelves and thin them a little. Of course looking at the shelves you won't even be able to tell, especially when I bring home probably even more books from the baskets I buy at the auction. It's an endless struggle to fight the addiction.