The book of Ecclesiastes says: “Of making many books there is no end, and much study wearies the body.” (Ecc. 12:12b) Isn’t that the truth? I mean, yes, it’s the Truth, but just go to Barnes & Noble or your local independent bookstore and take a stroll. Now with the ebook explosion, we’re surrounded by a virtual world of books as well.
How, then, do we decide what’s a keeper? Earlier this year, my husband and I decided to convert our son’s old bedroom into an office. This involved having our contractor move our built-in bookcases from our large eat-in kitchen to the new office. (Hooray, after years of sitting at the kitchen table or working in the living room, I have an office. I still pinch myself sometimes!)
The mammoth bookshelves have plenty of room for books–three sets of shelves, stacked seven shelves high, equals 21 shelves. Whew. Are you drooling yet? If you’re a book lover, you probably are. Sorry about that. I do have a point here.
I’m not talking up my bookshelves to turn you green-eyed. Because my husband, sweetheart that he is, said, “Honey, it would really be easier if you go through all your books before we move all of them into your office. We can get rid of some of them.”
What? Get RID of some of my books? He was right, though. Some of my old friends had dust on the tops (gulp, true confession). If I hadn’t picked them up in so long, why were they on the shelf? In the end, I brought six cardboard boxes of books to the town library to donate to their used book sale. I’m sure they went to good homes. Some copies were autographed.
I had to decide…what books are keepers? For me, these are what I call “landmark” books. When I pick up the book, I can remember how it made me feel. Did I laugh? Did I cry? Did it evoke any sort of emotion in me at all? Do I remember the characters? Would I honestly read this book again? This was a hard choice to make as I sorted books into two stacks, keep and give away.
I was left with a kaleidoscope of genres–historical, contemporary, chick lit, science fiction/speculative fiction suspense, romantic suspense, cookbooks (of course), nonfiction, reference books.
How do you decide a book is a keeper? Do you have stringent requirements for what makes it into your permanent collection? Or are you quick to pass a book along?