It felt a little like stealing, but I most definitely took it

Like most book lovers, I’m constantly looking for a way to feed my addiction. Books are like crack to me — I dream about them; lust after them; can’t wait to get lost in them. But, being the terrible glutton that I am, I have a lot of them. And by “a lot,” I mean an entire Ikea bookcase full of novels — most of them unread.

So I’m doing a little spring cleaning. When I quit my part-time job at a local bookstore a few years back, I was desperate to find a way to keep the steady flow of books coming into my home. I couldn’t imagine not living in a place piled high with paperbacks and I simply could not give that up.

I joined BookMooch, an online book trading site, and have gotten more than 100 novels through the program — including The Hunger Games and other awesome hardcovers. In short, it’s been fantastic. But? Space is at a premium in ye ol’ bedroom and, since my bookcase is now so full that it’s collapsing in on itself, I’m weeding out books and not really eager to bring too many more into the house. I have ARCs to finish, sent from publishers, but other than that? I’m trying hard not to purchase and/or mooch new books until I’ve finished what I have already. Or borrow them from the library, which I’m now all excited to do.

That’s easier said than done, of course. Of the books I currently have in my possession, most are unread novels I’ve acquired a variety of ways: purchased by me; sent from publishers; won through blog contests; mooched; received as gifts. And some of them? Not really my cup of tea. So what do I do with them? The idea of parting with an unread book is like asking me to shed a piece of my soul. If I haven’t read the book and still want to, even if it seems boring/not my genre, how can I possibly let it go?

But then I remind myself that, at this very moment, the backseat of my car contains about ten hardcovers and a few paperbacks — because I have nowhere else to put them. So I’m storing them. In my car.

I’ve become That Person.

So they have to go. They have to. This morning I carried in eight books, recently plucked from the bookcase, and began distributing them to my coworkers. Sandy and I share books all the time, so that’s no big deal, but what she isn’t interested in?

It’s going in The Box.

In my office, apparently, is a “Take A Book, Leave A Book” box. I say “apparently” because I never knew it existed until I wandered past the employee break room, a dark space I tend to avoid, in search of a soda. My caffeine fix is something not to be toyed with, friends.

And what did I discover there, sitting on top of a shelf all shiny and new and pristine? Sarah Pekkanen’s The Opposite Of Me, a book I’ve been lusting after for months.

In all the excitement, I’m pretty sure my mouth fell open. I reached out with trembling fingers to touch the cover, scarcely believing my eyes. In the past, the contents of The Box have been limited to tattered old romance novels circa 1983 and a few bad westerns, none of which I’m interested in. But this? This? A brand-spanking new work of women’s fiction with a colorful, gorgeous cover?

It was mine. It felt a little like stealing, but I most definitely took it.

Buoyed by the love I suddenly feel for my chick-lit-loving officemates, I brought books to contribute to The Box myself, including The Day The Falls Stood Still and Holly’s Inbox. And I have to tell you, I’m feeling pret-ty good about it.

Where do you take your books when you’re ready to part with them? Charity, friends, coworkers, a book swapping site?

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24 thoughts on “It felt a little like stealing, but I most definitely took it

  1. That’s a cool idea! I know there’s a book shelf at the pool with books that mainly fall into the thriller/romance/beach read genres.

    I usually post my books on Paperback Swap, but I still have a 2-foot stack of books I know I don’t want, and I’m not about to take them when I move next month. I just found out that the library takes donations that they’ll either put on the shelf (if they’re in great condition) or sell. Definitely what I’m doing, because I use the library SO much!

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  2. I used to participate in several book trading websites and loved it, but lately I can’t afford the postage so instead I’ve been trying to offload them onto my coworkers. Some other ones I’ll try to sell to a used bookstore, and anything else I suppose I’ll donate to my library!

    I wish we had a book box at work– supposedly we had one, like, 15 years ago, but apparently it was outlawed because of some stupid reason. 😦

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  3. Oh my gosh, I have SO many books, it’s ridiculous! I have three FULL shelves in my tiny apartment. I also have piles and piles and piles on the floor. Everywhere.

    I am on bookmooch, though I think I’ve been “on vacation” for at least six months. I often donate books to the library. If they can’t use them, they can sell them in their used book sales.

    Also, do you know of bookcrossing.com? It’s similar to mooch, but more fun, I think. You can go “hunting” for books, as people put a special tag inside the cover, and leave them in places for people to find.

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  4. Sometimes I host giveaways, sometimes I donate them to a library, sometimes I BookMooch or Paperback Swap, and sometimes I beg people to take them 😉

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  5. I have this same problem, the other day my husband and I went through the house and boxed up books to donate or swap because I am running out of room to store them. I eneded up with 5 boxes of books, 5!! I take some of them to charity or try to swap them online as well. There are those that I would never part with that are still on the shelves but I can’t hang onto all of them. So, don’t worry you are not alone, I think a lot of us have huge piles of books all around our houses 🙂

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  6. I usually take them to bookmooch, although I rarely find any books in return, but maybe that’s because I’m either late in requesting, or because I usually like books that have to be sent from the US or Europe. I do enjoy exploring the site though, and dreaming of all the books I might swap.

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  7. I loved this piece!! I see myself in you in regards to trying to part with an UNREAD book…egads, just not possible to do! Love the box at work concept!! I give mine away or leave them on my library’s public sale shelves.

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  8. My mom and I pass books back and forth. Generally I tell her to pass them on to someone else after she reads them so they are really and truly gone. The books she won’t read a donated to the Camel Book Drive.

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  9. My Mom always takes her books to Second Look Books where they give you credit (I think like 25% of the listed price?), and she can use that credit to purchase other books in the store. She’s racked up so much credit, I don’t think she’s spent a dime in years!

    She also loves a good thrift store, so she’s constantly finding good books for even better prices there. 🙂

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  10. We have a shelf at work like that and it’s filled with the same kind of books. I’ve yet to find something I’m interested in.

    I sell my books to Powells online, give them away on my blog, and donate to the library. I used to swap through bookmooch and pbs, but I found myself with lots of points, since I rarely found a book I wanted. I need to get over my love for new releases!

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  11. We have a bookshelf like that at work too but I haven’t used it yet. One time when I was moving I brought in a ton of books though because it was just too many too offload at once. For the most part I use paperbackswap and love it! Great post!

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  12. That’s a great idea at your work! Unfortunately I don’t think many people at my work would be interested in books, haha. That’s awesome you found that book!! Lately I just donate books to the library. In fact, I am really in need of a huge donation even though I haven’t read most of the books I own haha.

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  13. “Books are like crack to me.” LOL. i can see that. 😉

    …but whatever. i’m the same way. i joined bookmooch a while ago but kept forgetting about it. plus, i HATE giving books away! they’re all sort of stuffed and stacked on top of one another in my shelf cubes. it’s bad.

    but sometimes i give in and decide that i don’t care to keep a select few anymore (and if i can’t even remember the plot, then i know it’s time to let go). i usually take them to the used book store and use the trade credit to purchase new-to-me books (or if i’m lucky, ones i borrowed at the library and loved-but-didn’t-buy-yet).

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  14. I work in the English Department at my university, and there are free books everywhere! Bookshelves of them, tables outside professors’ offices…I am like a kid in a candy store, and yeah, sometimes it feels a little like stealing…are you sure you don’t want this? or what if someone else wants this?…but I definitely take them, and my overflowing bookshelves (plural) can attest to that.

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  15. Hahaha, nice post. I haven’t reached the stage of weeding my collection yet, but it’s kinda hard not to. The shelves in my 80 sq ft bedroom are full, so I have resorted to keeping books on my office desk. It started out as just a few but now the collection is growing, and I’m seriously considering starting an inter-office library. I refuse to get rid of books yet, because I am working towards my goal of having a room with floor to ceiling bookcases. It will happen someday, and I don’t want empty shelves!

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  16. Availing yourself of a gift isn’t stealing! Congrats on the fabulousness. 🙂

    I actually give books I don’t want to keep to my friends. If they aren’t interested I try and find someplace to donate them.

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  17. “Books are like crack to me” HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA! And I thought that I was the only one who just. can’t. stop. aquiring. books!!!!!! I’m a bookaholic!

    I can’t believe that you got “The Opposite of Me” for free!!!!! I bought it, although have yet to get to it since I’m reading through all of my review copies. I’ll, of course, look for your review!!

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  18. I have such a hard time parting ways with books. Even if I know I’m never going to pick the thing up again, I still want to keep it. But my bookshelf is full and I’m running out of places in my room to stash works of fiction SO I’m going to have to start finding a way to get some out without bringing so many in. I haven’t tried any of the web sites although I have been checking bookmooch out and your success with it makes me want to give it a shot.

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  19. Lucky girl!! Such a good find!

    I usually sell a lot of mine on Half.com… I don’t get much, but I feel like it justifies me purchasing new books all the time… (gah, I hate spending so much $$ on books!)

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  20. What a great find! I had been stashing the books I was willing to part with in a closet in the basement (and I know I’m lucky to be spoiled with the space to do this) but I finally decided to have a neighborhood book swap. I invited everyone I knew from bookclub and even friends from outside the neighborhood to come to my house to participate. I greeted each one at the door and told them they must leave with more than they brought. I don’t think too many did but at least it got the notion out there. I had spread all of my books ready for new homes across the dining room table and people added their own, taking what they wanted. The leftovers (about 9 grocery bags’ worth) were bagged up and donated to the Habitat for Humanity used bookstore in town. I think I unloaded about 50 of my books, only acquired about 4 new to me, and donated to charity. Good stuff all around!

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  21. I’ve got the same issue as you do – books I’ve purchase years ago and never read are now going into boxes to my used library book sale, that way at least someone else will enjoy them and my library can make some money.

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