Do You Keep Physical Books?

We’ve all heard it: the book worm whose house was filled wall-to-wall with beloved books. We see the pictures on social media of gorgeous library-like homes and reading nooks, causing jealousy and the desire to buy a home just like that, or to remodel our meager abodes. You’ve pictured yourself spinning around in a massive library, like Belle in Beauty and the Beast. You know you have.


But I’m here to argue that keeping every book you’ve ever bought doesn’t make you a better fan of literature than the next reader. I’m here to argue that for the good of those around you, you should get rid of most of your physical books.

You: Whhaaaaa…?

I know, right? It’s my belief that we’ve been fed a narrative (haha) that collecting books and surrounding ourselves with as many of them as we can cram into our homes is awesome. Aren’t you really building a safe, cozy (a word I’ve always loathed) space to “curl up with a good book” (a cliche I wish would disappear — who curls??) and feel happy?

Here are some things I’ve learned about keeping books:

#1 They’re filthy.

According to a chemical engineer, there are several reasons the paper in your physical books breaks down. Some are pretty basic: if you aren’t dusting incessantly, your books are breaking down. If you keep food near your bookshelves, the paper can break down. Open windows, poor ventilation, and obvious problems like a leaky roof all affect your books. Now, if you’re like me and suffering from ridiculous allergies right now because the trees are trying to get it on, then you know that having items in your house that collect dust and even mold spores is bad for your health.

Then there’s bug infestations. Did you know some bugs love books? I had a friend who got carpet beetles in her apartment, and the only way to get the bugs out of her hundreds of books was to put each book in it’s own ziplock bag in the freezer for four days.

carpet beetle.jpg

#2 They’re a bitch to move.

If you were a book lover from way back like me, you probably moved into your first apartment with a ton of books, which traveled in more boxes that any other possession. If you went to college to get a degree (and then another and another) like me, you’ve kept all your old textbooks because, I mean, what if you need them again?? As if your professors will magically choose the same books to teach in the years ahead! And if they do, they’re not likely the same editions (publishers make sure of that). And if they use the same books and the same editions, why are you taking that class twice? My husband and I both kept all the textbooks from our major courses…and neither of us has ever read them since. There are too many new books and too much updated information.

And what’s one of the most common themes of college living? College moving! Whether it’s into or out of the dorms, just down the street to a new apartment complex, back in with mom and dad, or into your very first grown-up-person house, college students tend to move every year. So when you call up your buddies and ask them to help you move in exchange for a case of Bud Light, be kind and tell them you’ve got about 20 boxes jam-packed full of books and that you live on the second floor. They’ll smell the slave labor immediately. I used to delight in coming up with new organizing systems for my books every time we moved, shelving them by color or author or publisher, but I always ended up utter ill from handing so much dust. I mean, I’m flipping the dust into my own nose holes every time I open a book before shelving it (I’m too cautious to be a book smeller, like most of you).

book box
This is what $1.90 per hour looks like.

#3 Your home “library” doesn’t look like the ones on the internet.

Books can make a home beautiful and welcoming; this I admit. And of course when we get a free moment we scrutinize our friends’ shelves and judge them mercilessly by the amount of crap vs. classics (meaning what we think sucks vs. what makes us happy). But does your library really have the beauty that you see in pictures? Are your selves not haphazardly packed, books on top of the furniture, shelves bending helplessly in the middle under the weight?

You’re picturing your home like this.


This is more like what you have. There’s an excellent overwhelming sense of beige in this picture, don’t you think?

#4 You pay taxes in a bad economy.

You know that weird building with all the computers in it? It’s called the library (yes, it has books, too). If you pay taxes in the United States (and even if you don’t) the library is free for you to use. Many have unlimited borrowing agreements, so long as you don’t mess up and bring back the newest Babysitter’s Club book that you accidentally dumped a bottle of water on (sorry, Ms. Fran, but it was 1993!), there’s nothing stopping you! If things are tight financially at your house, consider checking out books from the library, which helps their stats and convinces politicians that libraries are actually being used. Think of the things you could do with all the extra cash, too. I know that when I magically appear in a book store (for I do not willing choose to go, it just happens — I swear!) I always drop at least $100. But what about highlighting amazing passages in the text? What if you really, really love that book?? Well, now you can confidently buy the book after reading the library copy. If you love it so much, highlight in it during your second reading.

#5 When you keep your books to yourself, you’re missing a community-building opportunity.

Have you heard of Little Free Library? They’re popping up all over the United States and are a great presence in communities. Leave a book, take a book. Awesome! For kids in the neighborhood who can’t get a ride to the library during those long summer days, they can walk to the nearest book box and see what’s new.


If you have the money to buy books frequently, you’re privileged. Not everyone can even get to the library during business hours. The Little Free Library boxes are located in the center of communities, meaning people can walk to them. I put in physical copies that authors/publishers send me when I’m done with them. I feel like I’m giving a gift to someone else because the writer’s hard work gifted that book to me. Every time I drop off new books, I see which of the old books I’ve put in there are now gone, and I feel a rush of excitement and silent connection, knowing someone nearby is reading a book I’ve enjoyed. I’ve also learned that some people are a bit nervous about books. When I went to drop off some books to the Little Free Library one time, a man was there. I waved, and he ran away. I called him back, encouraging him to look at the books I brought with me. We made a small connection as I told him a bit about each one.

I’ve also recently discovered book parties! Throw a party, invite tons of friends, and request that everyone bring 2-3 books they no longer want. Everyone puts their books on a table, and however many books a person brings is how many they can take home. These events have proven successful when a person who picks up a book finds the former owner and they start talking books. I mean, isn’t that why you blog? To talk about books? Much better than “So, what do you do for a living?” or “What’s your major?” Ugh.

Getting rid of books is hard, but here’s how I do it:

I ask myself three questions:

  1. “Am I going to use this book in the future when I teach a lit class?”
  2. “Am I going to read it again?”
  3. “Can I get it at the library?”

Sometimes I’m not sure if I’ll read a book again, but I know it came from a small press and thus won’t be at the library, so I keep it. Why not, I paid for it. If it’s at the library but I’m going to teach from it (I need my own copies when I teach), then I keep it. Otherwise, if a book is at the library and I’m not going to teach from it and I’m not sure (doubts are okay) I’ll read it again, I get rid of that book. I want to share my book’s life with another. They also make excellent gifts at family gatherings where you have a White Elephant gift.

So, as a person with three literature/creative writing degrees who is a composition/literature professor, I say let some books go. A house load of dusty books doesn’t make you the bigger book worm. It doesn’t mean you love books more, or even read more than those of use who are willing to buy (or rent) electronic copies, use libraries, and donate our surplus reading materials.

Where do you keep most of your books? What does your book situation look like? How often do you buy books? What causes you to get rid of a book? I’d love to know in the comments!


  1. I actually keep my books on my tablet, smartphone and Kindle, which I’m surprised you didn’t touch on. I agree with all your pointers and that was how I decided to solve it. I do have a few physical books but not many.

    However, I plan to build a massive wall of books in my bedroom this year. Not for reading as much as for soundproofing as I have a basement apartment. I’m hesitant about that now though, since you mentioned the mold and the bugs…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I had some books for so long that they literally made me ill from mold. Not the kind you can see, but the kind that’s there, in the air, making you suffer. If you ever buy mass market books, those deteriorate faster, too. I didn’t talk much about e-books because I assumed people would get e-books instead of physical books. Oh, my, have all the books you want, for sure! Just don’t keep them all in your house. I have a a Nook glow worm (or something like that) that I love. I can take notes, highlight, and bookmark passages. You can download apps on your phone, such as Kindle, if you don’t want to buy the tablet. With as big as many phones are now, they practically ARE tablets. Thanks for writing, Alex!

      Liked by 1 person

      • Ouch. I didn’t know that was a possibility. We had books in our house for ages growing up without those problems.

        I only wanted the books because I heard it was a great way to soundproof your home and the basement gets a lot of the sound from the floor above, though our sounds don’t travel upstairs. Weird, I know.

        I’ll look into other options then and keep your recommendations in mind.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. When I moved into my current apartment I had a new wall built so one side of it could be bookshelves. Then I was introduced to (Ikea) billies, so now one one all of my study is bookshelves too. My old bookcases have migrated to the bedrooms and are mostly full of 2nd hand sf I bought decades ago. I grew up knowing (and still knowing) the spine of every book in my own bookcase by my bed. Watching every year as the shelves gained more books and fewer toys. My books have traveled thousands of km in boxes, from state to state, and up and down countless stairs. They have been the personal library of my children and now my grandchildren.

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    • That’s interesting that you knew your books so intimately! Many of us don’t. We might have an idea of what’s there, but we go back to the shelf and surprise ourselves every so often. I make sure I’m very careful about keeping books I have not read in a completely separate room from books I have read so they don’t end in up the wrong place and forever unread. I don’t have to worry about that as much, though, as I’ve been getting rid of more and more books. Would you ever consider e-books instead of boxing and moving these books? Just think: you could carry ALL of your books with you every day!


  3. Great post!! I used to be all about keeping physical copies of books. But once I got a Kindle, I got way less precious about it. And you’re so right about the dust! I did a huge purge when we moved about a year ago and got rid of about half my books and now I try to only keep those I really love and am likely to read again, or that I want to keep to lend out to friends. My philosophy is that if I wouldn’t lend it out, it doesn’t have a place on my shelf.

    Liked by 1 person

    • If it’s the kind of book I want to keep, I won’t lend it to anyone. I’ve always assumed that if I lend something, I shouldn’t expect it back (do you have lots of friend-thieves in Australia?). While moving books every year is awful, I think moving after living in one spot for a long time might be worse because we tend to burrow into our “nests,” keeping anything that we have enough room to store.


  4. I totally agree! I come from a family of siblings who hoard every book they ever acquire, but somehow that gene missed me. I do have overflowing piles of books but only because I don’t take them to the charity shop as often as I should. But the only ones that make it onto one of my two bookcases are books I’m confident I will want to re-read or look up, more than once. Any other book, once read, is put aside to be passed on – or if I think it’s really so bad I’d feel guilty about letting some other poor unsuspecting reader go through the pain, I pop it straight into recycling! Brutal, that’s me! I’d love to have a specific bookroom full of gorgeous expensive hardbacks of the classics and other loved books, but till I win the lottery that’s not going to happen – and tons of random tatty paperbacks of crime novels really do nothing to make a room look good… 😉

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    • Exactly, thus the beige picture I included. All our mismatched mass-market paperbacks don’t make for a glorious image. For me, I feel so bad when I let too many books go into my pass-it-on box that I get rid of them fairly frequently. I picture that guy who ran away from the Little Free Library and almost feel like he’s waiting for me to hurry up and put in some new goods.

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  5. Hello, yes I keep all my books! I am building a personal home library and am lucky to have the space to display as many books as I want. But they are a bitch to move…I just moved recently, was not fun.

    I am definitely privileged. I buy most of my books new because I like supporting the authors I read and the publishing industry in general. I am definitely not wealthy, not even close, but I have learned to prioritize book-buying over other hobbies. 🙂

    I’m sorry, I don’t think I’m going to get rid of my books any time soon…I love having a personal library too much.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I used to feel the same way when I was younger, in my early 20s. The older you get (especially depending on where you live) the more allergens can affect you when they never used to. The less energy you have for carrying boxes. The fewer able-bodied friends you have to help you (believe me, no one in their 30s wants to risk straining their back to help you move boxes — a couch, maybe). I’m not sure if it came across in my post, but when it comes to sharing books, I’m thinking about people who have little to no access to books due to transportation, poor school districts, poverty, etc. Think about all the book sitting on your shelf that you’re not reading, won’t read for years, may never read again. Do you have your own house? That makes a difference, too. Once we move into our homes, it’s easy to collect books because they’re ideas, words, meaningful objects. But we tend to be like burrowing animals in our homes, saving everything that has a place it can exist — attics, basements, closets, garages. Not to get super depressing, but if you’ve ever experienced cleaning out a relative’s home after he/she passed away, you know that it’s horrible to get rid of their things, especially when they have a ton of anything.

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      • Wow, I wasn’t thinking about all that! Haha. Why don’t you let me revel in my naiveté?? 😖

        I don’t own a house currently, but I have always lived in a place where all my books have been prominently on display. I am in my mid twenties, so perhaps I will change my mind about keeping/hoarding books. Though, right now the idea of giving them away or donating them even for a great cause is not appealing to me. I started collecting books only in the last two years, so I am still very much attached to them. 10 years down the road, however, I can see myself wanting to part with some of them if I haven’t read them in years.

        Thanks for the heads up about the allergens affecting me more as I get older… I think it’s already starting. 😕

        Liked by 1 person

  6. Where to start? So many thoughts are running through my head because I am gradually changing my position on the whole stockpiling of books issue.

    AGAINST KEEPING LOTS OF BOOKS: I am somewhat allergic to book dust (am a chronic eczema sufferer and old books can really set my hands on edge) – it’s a reason I rarely buy second hand books. I’m running our of space for bookshelves. I am getting to the age where the next move will be downsizing and I’m preparing myself to embrace this new stage in my life, a stage in which I’d like to try a less cluttered life. Hmmm…

    PRO YOU KNOW WHAT: I do like to be able to dip into books again when they come up in conversation (particularly online ones) even if I rarely reread many books in totality; they make a lovely physical record of my life/ This one is important because books jolt memories (not just of their content, but of times in my life when I read them, and of the people associated with them. I know that when those books go, many of those memories will too. THIS is the BIG pro.

    WHAT I’M DOING: Because of the “againsts” I’m making little forays into weeding my books, starting mostly with non-fiction, such as those funny little books (like “Mother’s love” – you know the sort), old textbooks, and reference books (Kobbe’s Book of Opera, Books of Quotations, Dictionary of Geography – all those things you can easily find online and have given up checking books for that info a long time ago). But, these have barely made inroads. Next I need to cull the TBRs – if they’ve been there 10 years of more, will I ever read them? Probably not. I’m also reducing book purchases A LITTLE. That is, when I read Australian books I choose print, but when I read overseas authors and classics I acquire e-book versions.

    And here endeth the rant, though there’s much more I could say!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I mentioned this in another comment, but if you have a tablet, like an iPad, you can download apps for certain readers, like Kindle or Nook. Therefore, you can buy all sorts of books without needing physical copies. I definitely know the kind of funny little books you’re talking about. They always seem to be gifted to me. You mentioned being able to dip into books. Here’s a fun fact that didn’t exist when I was in college: with e-books, you can search things very quickly. If I remember there was a passage about a boat but forgot to highlight it, I can search “boat” and find all mentions of the word. Imagine how much time that would cut off searching for passages when writing a paper? I can also look at just the highlights in my Nook books, which is really speedy, too. Thanks for writing!


      • Oh yes, I agree that e-books are good for searching for specific things. I do like that aspect. And I like that you can highlight and make notes – though t’s not quite the way I like to in printed books, which is to make little summary notes at the back which bring all my thoughts together.

        I do have an iPad and have a few books on it but I hate reading on tablets because of the screen and the size. I use my tablet constantly for other things though. I have a kindle, have had for many years now, and that’s where I do my main e-reading. It feels like a book to hold, and the screen is easier on the eyes. BUT I still much prefer to read paper really. It’s easier to know “where” you are, and you can flick through it quickly.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Aw, excellent point! I HATE that I don’t know where I am in e-books! My husband and I are reading 1984 to each other (one chapter aloud before bed), and if one of us is particularly tired, we want to know how much longer the chapter is. So, you’re like, “Okay, I’m at 45% so I’ll have to remember that and swipe swipe swipe to find the of the chapter…okay I can’t find where I was….uh…”


          • That’s one thing the Kindle has now – it tells you how much reading time is left for the chapter (though that’s not totally accurate) as well as percentage through the book. BUT I still can’t get a sense of the book. It’s weird and hard to explain. I read some recent research that said young people – 15-24 year olds – prefer printed books for recreational reading (which implies they used e-reading for study). I think that’s interesting.

            Liked by 1 person

            • The textbook I use for English 101 is almost half the cost if the students buy the e-book, so I’m not surprised! They also don’t get as much money back if they highlight or write in a physical textbook, things they can do in a e-textbook.

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  7. I once had a bookshelf mounted on the wall get so heavy, it fell on me in the middle of the night. Luckily, I wasn’t hurt. Back in India, where the library system is not as developed as in the US I did (and still do) keep all my books, and make sure I dust them regularly. Here in the US, I rarely buy books because THE LIBRARIES HERE ARE FANTASTIC. I cannot emphasize that enough. Also, I can’t afford to buy too many books, physical or digital.
    But yeah, if I could, I would keep my books. At least till I reach the point where you are 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a scary story about the book shelf! Many of us get our furniture while in college, so it’s not the best made. This is when I start seeing the saggy shelves, and it’s amazing that they don’t just fall down. Does your local library let you digitally check out books? Mine does; it gives you access to a webpage, basically, so you don’t even need to download a special app or sign up for a new service! Glad to hear your getting your library bang for the buck!

      Liked by 1 person

        • If they have Overdrive, it’s super simple. You check out the e-book, it asks you how you want to read, you click Overdrive, and a webpage opens with the book. Boom, done. If you have Kindle or Nook, the library will let you download one of those files. It does have some electronic thing that takes the book back from your device when your reading period is up.

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  8. So much of this sounds terribly familiar! (Who knows why I still have a stack of medieval history textbooks but I seem unable to let them go.) I’ve moved often enough in the past ten years that I have continuously culled my shelves. My rule for what I keep is similar – either to read again or to lend to friends.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Honestly, I wrote this post on a whim because I read a different blog post on which everyone was talking about never getting rid of their books. I think it can be terribly problematic. As I mentioned in another comment, beyond books, I think about what I would leave behind if I passed away. I’m fairly young, but I remember vividly going through relatives things when they died and the anguish of asking, “Was this thing important, or did they just not get rid of it?” I can’t imagine having to go through the book collection many bloggers proudly describe. I’m funny about having too many things, but the textbooks is interesting because we can convince ourselves that they’re still useful. Really, they’re not. Even literary theory about Shakespeare will update.


  9. I have many books, but I also love to give them away. I have the books I studied decades ago as an English major – my Shakespeare and Victorian Lit, etc etc. I used the library a lot, too. I just don’t like e-books, but I think they are great, too, especially for readers who appreciate large print, who travel a lot, or who don’t want to collect books. I tend to buy bookshelves in antique shops, and I have some with beautiful old glass doors.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Collector’s items are a different story for sure! What’s interesting about literature books from English majors is that even the prevailing ideas about Victorian lit analysis, or Shakespeare, change and get updated! Those texts get outdated. Also, do you use them? (to be honest, we still have a number of college textbooks hanging around our house). What don’t you like about e-books?

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      • That’s a good point about those textbooks getting updated. I keep them and occasionally I use them in my writing, but also they have a great sentimental value; my original notes are penned in the margins. I’m writing a memoir, and looking at those old texts brings many memories back about how I was thinking and what I did, which surprises me. I have my old English lit papers, too, which are an eye opener – how did I express myself then and how did I write? As for e-books, I’m so glad we have them, but I just don’t like them – it’s a visceral experience for me. Mostly I don’t like reading books off a screen, even if it’s a high quality one. I’m also very much into paper, book design, etc.

        Liked by 1 person

        • There are some small presses that really get into book design. Some are even going back to hand-made books! I love it! I have to say the paper quality of every small press book I’ve owned beats the pants off the chintzy stuff coming from big publishers’ paperback books lately.

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  10. How timely your post is, given I’ve just rejected Marie Kondo’s approach to books 🙂

    I basically pass on probably 90% of the books I read – either to someone else with the instruction “I don’t need it back, keep passing it on” or I give the books to charity. The 10% that make it to my shelves get a permanent position there. That said, I probably have about 250 books on my multiple shelves – too many? I don’t know… Lots are books I’ve kept from childhood and my teens – absolute favourites; lots are copies of books I’ve loved signed by the author; and lots are reference type of books.

    I guess I find books to be the loveliest of all decorations 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Kate, your post inspired my post! Everyone was commenting on your post about how they don’t get rid of books, so I was thinking, “I can’t be the only one!” I’m not sure that 250 is an absurd amount. To be honest, I’ve never counted how many books I have in my house, but I can very clearly point and say, “They are on that shelf and that shelf, and that smaller shelf is to-read stuff.” I got rid of a number of the books from my younger days. They were mostly Sweet Valley Twins (wow, I mention the twins a lot on my blog), which I can get at the library. I don’t need 100 versions of Jessica’s shenanigans and Elizabeth’s hurt feelings in my house. There are some I’ve kept that I actually do re-read, like The Great Gilly Hopkins.

      Liked by 1 person

      • I have two bookcases and my kids have bookcases in their rooms. I can’t even imagine shutting books away in a shoe cupboard – surely that’s bad karma?!

        I think most of the comments on my post related to the ripped pages and the general belief among book-lovers that you pass a book on, for someone else to enjoy, rather than destroy it.
        Confession: I still have some SVH 😊


        • Ahhh! I’m weirdly proud of you for keeping your SVH!! 😀 I have a few of the books: Double Love, which was the first, and one called Dangerous Love about Elizabeth riding a motorcycle (my family loves motorcycles), Who’s Who (which I thought was delightful because I have uncles who used to switch dates), The Wakefield Legacy (I read a eleventy-billion times), and finally, Ghost in the Bell Tower. They were younger in that book, but it was the first one I ever read. I don’t think 2 bookcases plus one for each family member is excessive. Some people keep books in the basement and attic and closets (oh, my!).


  11. #2 is why I got rid of most of my books. I’m moving again so I’m culling again, and I just told my daughter she needs to do the same.

    I actually need to get rid of a bunch of books on my work bookshelf. I’m not moving from there any time soon, but I also am not using most of those books.

    LOVE THE LIBRARY. I get most of my books (even e-books) from there.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. Are you experimenting with click-bait for some reason!?

    (And did it work? 🙂 )

    I have to ruthlessly cull my books because I live in a New York City apartment with other people, and the towering books-everywhere look is not an option for them. However it turns out to be OK, mostly, since I don’t love every book I read, and now I save only the ones I love, while donating the others in an environmentally responsible way. I have only once been really mad about something I got rid of, which was that I had a cache of nonfiction about the Balkans, and at some point decided that “I am never going to reread this.” And then a friend went to the Balkans and I could have loaned some books to her. I was mad!

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    • Don’t you foist your click-bate problems on me! 😀 Lots of people want to talk about their books because they blog. Or, it’s kind of like those quizzes my friends used to email me via AOL about what my favorite color or food was, my darkest secret, what I do first thing when I wake up, etc. We loooove talking about ourselves. I didn’t realize you lived in NYC even though I just sent you mail. I don’t think anyone else has mentioned apartment living yet, but interesting point: this guy and his wife who was friends with my husband lived in the same complex as us. They failed their apartment inspection because they had TOO MANY BOOKS. If they didn’t fix it, they were going to be evicted. Granted, this guy kept every mass-market paperback ever, and she would bring home mountains of books from the Notre Dame library (which has a year-long borrowing period) and not touch them. BUT, there is weight load on apartments and houses people. Keep that in mind! I think there were two books I truly regretted getting rid of: 1) a book called Don’t Die My Love that I bought in 3rd grade from those Scholastic ordering things that came around the school every so often. I got rid of it after I got married because I felt silly that I had a tear-jerking romance on my shelf. My husband felt bad that I felt bad and bought me a copy, but it wasn’t the same. I also sold a complete set of Avon books that my great-grandma bought me when I was a girl. She thought I would love and relate to Anne of Green Gables, but I quickly found that Anne was hard as shit to read. When I was an undergrad, I sold them for $40 to pay for graduate school applications. Just this past winter I bought a new set, but they weren’t the same color (the lying scum on Amazon posted a different than the product).


  13. I had fun reading this post and all the comments! I agree with most of what you’ve said here, but I still have a hard time getting rid of books. However, I do weed through them from time to time, and I do give many away to charity and to the Little Free Library up the road (that’s my favourite). I like to hold on to my favourite books, though, because I love the way they look on the shelves and in my house (they look better than the picture you shared), and I also love lending them to friends. Most of the books I own have come from used book stores and sales, so they really aren’t a huge expense for me, and searching for good books in second-hand books stores is a lot of fun. I also like the thought of supporting those stores, even above new book stores, because they are almost always independently owned and they are making good use of all the books people have read but are still perfectly good for others to read. I also use the library all the time, so there is no problem there.
    Having said all that, there is a big sale going on this weekend (it happens here once a year), and I have been boxing up some books to donate. Maybe this post will inspire me to add just a few more. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • You sound like you do a lot with your books, Naomi! I know I don’t lend mine, which I mentioned in another post, because I only keep the favorites or must useful for teaching. I’m so glad the Little Free Library is in Canada, too! And second-hand stories are MEGA fun!! I found this neat one in Lansing, Michigan, that was really organized and had excellent literature. They had a basement full of comic books you could check out (I was keen on seeing if some Tales From The Crypt was down there), but they all smelled slightly of mold, which is bad news and can affect your other books at home if you shelve them together. If you want to decide how to choose books to donate for your big sale coming up, set up some rules. I’ve discovered from talking with my husband that if I just say, “Keep or donate?” that he slowly experiences massive anxiety about his things (not just books). Develop rules and stick to them. You can always change your mind later and donate more.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Heh yes I have pictured myself like Belle in my library 😀 Also loving at the ton of responses!
    Personally, I don’t own a ton of books since I move about every 2-3 years and have a tiny budget. But I am working towards building my personal library, one that supports woc authors and helps me keep thoughts that reflect and challenge my own with me. I only buy books important to me and that I will reread. I also have often given boxes of books away, like cheap finds I bought but don’t really want to own and books I’ve had to buy for classes. And I’m quite happy with my approach, my books look awesome and I haven’t had bugs yet *fingers crossed* 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Great post! Lucky for me I haven’t had any of these problems and I own a lot of physical books. I dust them, but cull them regularly. I’m making a collection of certain books and for the moment my house holds what I own. I’m hoping things will stay that way. :/

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I’ve moved away from this idea that I should own all the books possible. This might have been a consequence of me running out of room and having to build wall shelves in order to accommodate all my books. I’ve done a couple of book unhauls because it really doesn’t makes sense to keep books I know I will never touch. It just takes me a little while to actually takes steps to get rid of them. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks so much! People sure had a lot to say about the topic! I think what it really comes down to, for me, is whether or not that book is an object in space that serves no purpose (as in I’m not reading it and won’t use it again). If it’s taking space but not serving a purpose, think of all the people who can’t afford books and WANT them, but I’m selfishly keeping them. I have this same rule about all things in our house: if you use it, keep it. If you love it, we have to be able to see it (so no stuffing beloved things in boxes and hiding them away for the sheer comfort of knowing they’re there). Also, you must dust your things (this caused my husband to get rid of a LOT of stuff, lol).

      Liked by 1 person

        • All you need is one family member who is close to you to die and leave all their stuff behind to realize how bad it really, really gets. I also like this excerpt from Roz Chast’s graphic memoir, Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant?:

          An ergonomic garlic press and throw pillows and those stupid sunflower dessert plates and seven travel alarm clocks and eight nail clippers and a colander and a flatiron and three old laptops and barbells and a set of FUCKING BOCCE BALLS, and patio furniture and an autoharp, for God’s sake, and your old flute from high school and a zillion books and towels and sheets and a wok you never used and a make your own stained glass kit you never opened, and martini glasses and a yoga mat and what is THIS??? A cuckoo clock????? And so many clothes and hats and shoes and then there’s all the KIDS‘ old stuff and don’t forget the furniture and four cameras and ice skates and whose tap shoes are these? and all the crap in the drawers and…”


          Liked by 2 people

          • Mum’s about to move into a retirement home so I’m about to get another 300 books of my late father’s. I’m afraid I don’t follow any of the rules you set your husband, must be why I live alone!

            Liked by 1 person

            • LOL! You’ve given me quite a chuckle! I imagine if you’re in your truck all the time, a wifey would be home alone with hundreds of dusty books reminding her that she missed you, and sneezing is not a proper replacement for a husband!


  17. Great post , i keep some book by favorite authors that ill read again but like you iv been to uni and man its so hard work moving all those books so i know get rid of ones i dont want to charity shops and half the time thats where i got them in the first place doing my little bit while keeping my book pile down , well most the time, i also find that getting a ebook edition is great as you always have it and it takes up very little room , great blog thanks for sharing !

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Apparently bookshelves have now become a trendy item to have in your home. But the style gurus strongly advise they should not be colour co-ordinated. So now books are the equivalent of wallpaper. sigh


  19. Ahhhh we are a bit Book hoardy and I have a core collection I can’t part with- but getting better at sharing donating etc. our congregation has started a Little Free Library which is so fun and could use a little more love. Best giveaway experience recently – kiddo outgrew her robust Magic Treehouse collection and we found a teacher who was so happy to have them for her kids with learning disabilities. Share the book love!


    • I love all these ways of giving I hadn’t thought of: church, school teachers…I wonder if there is a good way to get in contact with churches or teachers if I don’t have any connections personally.


  20. Honestly, I think many of the book hoarders of the world are people who haven’t had to move yet. Having to change apartments every few years is a good way to convince people they don’t want to ship/move a bunch of books they no longer read, have no room to store hundreds of books they don’t read, and aren’t in a financial situation where creating the Beast’s library is an attainable life goal. As for me, I find owning too many books impractical and would rather donate them to someone who will actually read them. I admit that keeping books I won’t reread makes me feel somewhat selfish and guilty.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It’s taken me years to get to where I am. I’m even considering donating the books my former professors wrote because those books didn’t, uh, interest me. I was in two creative writing programs that had mostly experimental fiction writers.


  21. […] What format do you read the most in? (audiobook, e-reader, physical copy)? These days, I’m purchasing more e-books so I don’t have to get rid of them when I’m done (they take up no space), but I think it’s still largely paperbacks. If I read a paperback book and I don’t think I’ll read it again, or it didn’t stick with me in a special way, I get rid of it. […]


  22. I’m so glad you linked to this post from another one because I’ve been working on getting rid of books I know I’ll never read again or as you said can be shared with others.

    The germs and bugs OMG if that doesn’t motivate….the bug picture and putting books in zip lock bags….I can’t!!! But I’m grossed out.

    As I try to get my shelves under control because I don’t have many and they are a few rows double stacked I need to work out a better system. Since I’m planning to work on reading my own books I think I need to create some time to revisit both read and unread and ask myself your questions. It’s been easier over the last few years getting rid of books because I’m trying to make room for the ones I want to have as a permanent part of my personal library.

    And let’s not forget! I use my public library regularly and I go so much my phone tells me how long it will take me to get there and how the traffic is (it’s learned my pattern). I remember when I used to buy books without considering the library. A few reading years ago I realized I read almost exclusively from the library so why was I *still* adding books from bookstores to my shelf of books? SMH


    • I also used to buy books without thinking about the library. But once you start feeling comfortable getting rid of books, you realize the money you’re spending and giving away. I’ve read a few books from the library that I then bought because I knew I would read them again. I’m trying to be a less selfish person, and that includes getting rid of things that are just sitting in my home, doing nothing but getting old.

      Liked by 1 person

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