Sorting Books

This weekend, I pulled out a rather sizable stack (or rather, a few stacks) of books which had been piling up in the corner of my bedroom, collecting dust. I have numerous other books elsewhere in the apartment as well, most of which are situated neatly on bookshelves – ones I’ve already gone through and which have been given a place, in the intention that I will read them someday.

This particular assortment contained quite the variety – many were picked up at book sales and which seemed like a good find at the time, considering I could purchase them at the cheap price of $1 or $2 per bag not even $1 or $2 a book. “Surely they must be worth more than that” I’d thought as I scooped them up like they were animals at the shelter needing a home. Some are ones I brought with me when I moved from my parents’ house and just hadn’t quite found a space on my shelves yet, and others I accumulated from friends and relatives…

My abundance of books, and the exuberance with which I obtain new ones at every possible opportunity, reveals the side of me that is ever hopeful, that part which contains a youthful optimism that I’ll actually have the time and desire to read the hundreds or perhaps thousands of books that spark my interest at one time or another.

I have this vision of a sunny library in my & my boyfriend’s future home, complete with a myriad of plants (mine) and rocks/minerals/fossils (his) and filled with all manner of books so that we, and/or any children we might have or adopt could have the world at our fingertips. I want to be the type of person who reads, learns, and knows about certain things and I want my family to have that opportunity as well, so I do what I can to take us in that direction.

It is more challenging for me to get rid of books I haven’t read than to reduce the number of other items I own. For me, a book holds promise – new information and experience, the sharing of a story… I feel like getting rid of a book is like giving up on a dream. One of the saddest realizations of adulthood is realizing that one simply doesn’t have enough time to do everything. That’s why the choices we make can be so difficult – and so important.

I hate the idea of a good book going unread – so the pile(s) had been weighing on me. While I like the idea of having read some of the books, think I might enjoy reading them, and/or feel guilty for having not read them, the truth is that they have lingered about, unread, for quite some time, and in that time I have chosen other things – from other books to read to other hobbies to pursue. Realistically I am not likely to get through them all. Hence the sorting. Knowing that the books wouldn’t go to waste if I were to donate them or give them away, I created labels for various piles, including “Donate”, “Li’l Free Library”, “Give Away”, and “Keep”.

Some of the books; so much time and contemplation went into this arrangement…

In my mind, “Donate”, “Li’l Free Library”, and “Give Away” are three distinct piles, though all mean than they’ll no longer be in my possession.

The “donate” pile is for the books that I never got to and have finally decided I likely never will, and for ones that I did read, but wasn’t thrilled with. I don’t think they’re bad enough to just recycle outright (which I’ve done with I think just two books in my life – those were ones I felt no one should read), but they’re not great, or they weren’t as interesting as I imagined they’d be. It is with hope that these will find a new home that I release these books into the world. Perhaps someone with a different background or life experience would appreciate them in a way that I just couldn’t or didn’t. Even though I generally didn’t have a connection with these books, I still had to remind myself periodically during the sorting that it’s okay not to read them/that I hadn’t read them.

Those for the “li’l free library” are ones that were good – or at least looked good if I never got to them – and I hope will be read someday by someone, though I’m not sure where they’d be of most use; books that are either so wonderful that I think anyone and everyone should read them or not so good as to warrant a personalized recommendation, but decent enough… This pile is a physical representation of my desire for high quality education and information to be accessible for all. These are the books that I want someone to be able to obtain free of charge and which I think people might be excited to find – like a kid coming across a “head’s up” penny on the sidewalk.

Books to “give away” are ones I want to share with a particular person – ones I’ve read and think someone specific I know might enjoy, sometimes ones that I have multiple copies of. After the “keep” pile, the books that go into this pile rank the highest in my opinion – ones that I feel someone I know and love should read, based on what I know about them. I love making personalized recommendations and having a reading suggestion become someone’s new favorite book, or at least an enjoyable way to spend time, and I love reading great novels.

Though the sorting process can be difficult, I love being reminded of the books that I have – and feel privileged to have so many, and to be able to share them. I look forward to reading more in the coming weeks.

What books had the greatest impact on you, or are your favorites to recommend?

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1 Comment

  1. I have been recommending most books by Mary Roach. She’s a science writer that does an excellent job bringing the topic at hand to the reader in an easy-to-read package. Highly recommended for those interested in all areas of science.


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