I noticed Bea posted on Twitter a couple weeks ago that they have reduced their physical book collection to five books. I'm curious about what those five books are, and what books others would keep if limited to five? Obviously, there's still the library and ebooks for further reading, but what is important enough to you to keep on paper? I have many more than that, and often contemplate reducing (but haven't quite been able to).
Still, I'm curious...
I keep reducing my once quite sizeable (sp?) book collection. In some ways it's been hard, because books, especially the "hard" novels and "though provoking" nonfiction that we read are such identity cues and we stack on shelves to show off our intelligence, discernment, etc. So, I started slowly, and the process has never really sped up because giving away books can be so emotionally difficult.
I started with the easy stuff. The novels and popculture books I'd collected, all those best sellers you pick up in airports or at birthdays. The ones you should never have owned and instead should have borrowed from the library.
Then, I worked on to books I didn't really love and knew I was never going to read again.
That's when the hard part started, the books that I might not love, but that I kept because they had become part of my identity. Books you know you're never going to read again, but keep because having them on the shelf says something about you as a person. In some ways, these have proved the hardest to let go. So little by little I pull a few of these off my shelves. I store them in a closet for a few months and when the pain of not having them on my shelves to proclaim to the world my intellectual superiority has reduced, I quite easily give them away.
Now, as for books I loved. I've separated those out from the identity confirming books. I've gone through and thought about which ones I'll read again and which ones are out of print/hard to find and which ones I'd like to share with my kids. Once those three categories were set aside, I found I didn't really need to keep the rest of the books from the "love" category.
But those books from the identity category are still proving hard to reduce. Ugh.
So where does that leave me, having gone from three large, overstuffed book shelves, think books stacked in rows two deep with more books piled between the top of the books and the bottom of the next shelf. I'm down to three shelves, one row deep of the love books and two shelves one row deep of the identity books. Someday, those two shelves of identity books will be empty.
While not Bea's 5 books, I'll be happy to have roughly 200 as opposed to the over 2,000 I had before. And I can't imagine having just 5 books, I just couldn't do that.
I agree -- I definitely have books in all those categories! I've reduced a lot in recent years, so that my books all now fit on the three sets of shelves I own. I haven't counted individual books, but it's probably a similar number: over 100 but under 300.
Thing is, I think I could narrow down to the complete collections of five authors, plus a lot of informational books and literary compilations and color printed books...
But there are still a lot in the "won't read again but might want to refer to" and "won't read again but I read it once and want to retain the proof" and "won't read again but I've visited the location featured in the book and might go back" categories...
As I write this post I have two book shelves in front of me with fiction and two behind me with non fiction. I have always loved books and own quite a few. But come to think of it I have not read too many of the books I own. I have however read a vast amount from libraries.
Most of my books are either gifts or were very inexpensive. I don't care what a book looks like on the outside, to me it's what is inside it that counts. I don't have very many hard backs for the same reason. I have also inherited some books that relate to my field.
I would love to one day have a wall full of books and a comfy chair next to a window.
I too connect my personality with the books I've read. People know that I've read War and peace (because I dragged it everywhere for the 10 months it took me). I own that book in English (many of my books are in English) but I had to switch to a Danish translation to get through it (loved it btw, just got tired of all the war every now and then).
So will keeping the English version portray me as an intellectual? or is it more the fact that I was the only student able to discuss Russian authors with my prof. in an Ethich's lecture? (that was a good day in my book!)
Do I read for my own pleasure and knowledge or do I simply want to portray certain values? If the answer is the first option (which it is in my case), then why do I behave like it is the second? And why do I let those unread books on my shelves stress me?
I will never be a 5 book person. I study theology, books are what I deal with. I have about 18 different Bibles. But maybe it is time to slowly read some of all those books and to take them off my shelves as I get them read. I can dedicate a box or two in our basement for books and then someday, if and when we get a place with a suitable wall I can give it some good though before I open those boxes again.
Dear ... (?) --
Agreed, I have quite a few Bibles as well (but not 18!). God would have to be one of my five authors, along with CS Lewis, Shakespeare, and the others are still under debate. T.H. White for The Once & Future King and Charlotte Bronte for Jane Eyre are probably the lead contenders.
In the Bible department, I've been trying to consolidate by finding a parallel version with 4 versions side-by-side and an interlinear Hebrew & Greek version. (Having trouble finding the perfect four version combo, though. I tend to want some from each of the available options...)
We considerably downsized our books several times over the years.
DH comes from a "collector" back ground (in his family, it's a 'value' that you have collections. not having a collection means that there is something wrong with you. their house is a cluttered nightmare, btw). He's always been bookish, and since his aunt was also a librarian, he was very much encouraged and owned many books.
Two years ago, we moved from the US to NZ. I bought only small book boxes, most of which I filled only to as heavy as I could move them, and only enough of them that I could fit everything we wanted to ship onto one pallet.
We moved to NZ with 7 bags and 1 car seat. Two of the bags were books/toys for DS; 2 of the bags were clothes for myself, DH, and DS. One was a carry on of general comforts for the trip (snacks, diapers and blankets and carrier-wrap for DS, change of clothes for him, our water bottles, etc) plus the tickets and necessary documents, and the remaining two were carry-ons of our computers.
So, we have been without our books for two years now. They are in storage in the US.
We mostly miss our kitchen boxes (two of them).
I do miss my Harry Potter books. DH misses his Lord of the Rings/Hobbit/Related books. I also have several poetry books that I miss.
But, I'm doing ok without them. I am fairly certain that i got my books down to three series: harry potter (7) , the outlander series (7 so far), and twilight (3) plus a Norton Anthology. I also have a small professional library (5 books), two of which I brought with me and use daily.
Since we've been here, we've amassed several books -- mostly DH has. He asks for books as gifts still, and receives them as well. Not counting DS's books, I think we have 20 or so, of which only three are "mine" (as in, given to me, even though I didn't ask for or want them. They were enjoyable to read).
DS has several books -- I would say probably around 50 all told (between here and the US). My parents have started sending 3-4 books when they ship stuff to us -- out of his boxes that we have in storage. This has helped keep the number of books from increasing, actually.
But, we use the library a lot. I don't have an e-reader, but I do have the capacity on my computer, but, I still prefer reading a book itself.
We are heading toward another declutter -- we'll see what books we will be able to release to others (or sell -- i made about $500 every time I went to sell my books).
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