State of the bookshelves: complicated

When I moved in with Spence last fall, one of the most difficult parts of the process was, beyond a doubt, hauling my books.

All of my books.

So, so many books.

If you’ll remember, friends, Spencer popped over to our local Borders clean when it shuttered in 2011. He brought home several (very large) bookcases, installing them in our living room, and they’re now the focal point of that room.

It’s hilarious to see the empty shelves now, knowing what I know. Knowing how far I’ve fallen.


The good old days – 2011

Those shelves? No longer empty.

Not even kind of.

I’d take a picture to show you a current view of my overflowing shelves, but I’m not that crazy. Don’t you know everything shared online can live on forever? I don’t want to be haunted by this disarray a decade from now. My once-organized novels have been taken over by paperbacks, review copies, old library books. Stack upon stack upon stack.

We’ve reached critical mass.

Good thing we’re moving.

But having just schlepped hundreds of books up to our second-floor apartment (with the help of my dad and sister) in October, I’m none too eager to repeat the experience. Though my goal was to actually streamline my to-be-read stacks and have fewer novels starting 2014, the opposite has happened. Not even my digital library can save me now.

The other day I thought, Fine. This is it. Some of these MUST GO, but then I realized . . . regardless of whether I’m moving them to the new house or donating them to the library, I still have to carry them. They still must leave the premises.

I’m so tired of carrying things.

When I moved before the wedding, everything was piecemeal until the final push. Every visit to Spencer’s included recyclable bags full of my stuff — things I’d forgotten I even had until I was emptying my childhood bedroom of all its worldly goods. I actually moved my books before I moved much else, mostly because I wanted the place to feel “homey” — requiring my beloved classics, natch — and also because those jokers were heavy. Carting over the heaviest stuff at the beginning, when I had the most strength, seemed a reasonable plan.

I don’t know what we’re going to do this time. For one, the bookcases are actually bolted to the walls in the living room; they’ll have to be removed and the holes patched up for whoever we find to rent our place (please, please let us find renters, Universe). It feels strange to be boxing up my books without having their new home established . . . but, well, our new home isn’t set up for us yet, either. So.

Despite the lug-factor, I’m still contemplating making one big sweep of the shelves to discard what I simply don’t plan to read. Unlike clothing I eventually admit I’ll never wear and can easily donate, it’s so hard to part with books. Everything in my bookcase is there because, at some point, I really wanted to read it. I don’t accept review copies because YAY FREE BOOKS — I have enough problems. And I definitely don’t spend cash on novels that don’t appeal to me. That would be . . . odd.

So what remains? Ones I once fancied. But I simply can’t take all of them with us. I don’t want to take all of them with us. It’s freeing to part with books I’ve had eyeballing me for years because, as they say, there really is no such thing as a free lunch. I don’t feel guilty having them there, per say, but overflowing shelves do make me feel stressed. I don’t need all of them, and I’d rather they go to a better home.

One that isn’t ours.

I have my work cut out for me. Maybe I’ll do a big giveaway or something. It’s been a while, hasn’t it?

. . . My loss, your gain.

Let’s reconvene in a few weeks.

24 thoughts on “State of the bookshelves: complicated

  1. Oh, I know how you feel! I’m moving soon (to another country, actually) and I don’t know how on earth I’m going to transport all my books. I know I should really leave some behind, but as you said, it is so hard to part with books!


  2. I’m smiling as I read this. The last time I moved I had more books than kitchen stuff, than clothes, than anything! My friends who helped with my relocation thought I was nuts. LOL I feel your pain… and pleasure. šŸ™‚
    I have in the meantime (thanks to my Feng Shui practice) released many books to charities and to used books stores for cash back. It’s been a good start. šŸ™‚ I look forward to your follow-up!


  3. Good luck with your project! It does seem daunting. I have big IKEA bookshelves that are stacked two and three deep, and a headboard and bedside tables overflowing. I purge every year, but it doesn’t make much difference. Somehow, someway, some stuff keeps finding its way back to my shelves. I feel your pain.


  4. It is hard to part with books. My mom and sister helped me purge my shelves in January. I got rid of 2 or 3 hundred books but you’d never know it if you looked around here.


  5. If you want to understand someone’s true personality, take a look at his or her home library. Just as a peek into a person’s medicine cabinet can reveal a great deal about their health, the books they read offer a psychological profile of their tastes, interests and values.


  6. I dread the thought of eventually moving my books. I got some nice new shelves a couple of Christmases ago, and I purged then. And I’ve stopped writing book reviews on the blog thus I’m getting as many sent to me, so it is strange that they still seem to multiply. So…anyway good luck with all that. The libraries must just love us bloggers when we decide to purge.


  7. Moving all those books will certainly give you a great work out! We have the same problem with DVDs. We had an entire Ikea bookshelf of them. It was driving me nuts! Finally, we found a way to burn them and save a digital copy of it on our computer, and just play them on our AppleTV. Much better šŸ™‚


  8. Yeah… I just did the book move in November and I am good for quite a while. haha. They are where they are staying and that’s that. I actually want to downscale a bit, but it is so much work. I did a little one about a month ago, but I can’t handle a large one for a while!


  9. We have lots of books too. I have been adding simple shelving made of 1×8 pine as we go along but right now the area under the bed is full again and we really don’t have room for more shelves. The longer I live the better I like my Kindle.


  10. I look around my home sometimes and think, “Can I get rid of a few books?” I don’t have the amount of shelves you show in the photo, but close enough. And I do make a habit of donating unsigned review books that I’ve received that I never intend to read again because I’ve learned that there is no more shelf space and no place to put a shelf. Thank goodness for the kindle because I also book review – repeating your Yeh! Free books! comment. It’s hard to get rid of books. They are a part of you whether you’ve read them or not – a part of you wanted to read them. Just think of the books traveling on for another to enjoy. It will help a little. Good luck! I feel for you. Donna


  11. I feel your pain. When we moved, I sold a lot of books at a garage sale, made a list and sent it to friends to see if anyone wanted books, and then donated A LOT. A LOT. Like so much money worth of books + I still had a ton to carry. Thankfully we won’t be moving for a couple of years because I am just imagining we are going to have the same problem. (Don’t tell my husband haha AS IF HE DOESN’T NOTICE ALL THE BOOKS.) I hope you can come up with an easy solution… I guess until then think of the awesome arm muscles you will get by carrying them everywhere? Yes? šŸ™‚


  12. I feel your pain. My guest room was overrun with books – they had long outgrown the bookshelves in there. In a compact Manhattan apartment, I had to tame them. So, with the help of my parents during a recent visit, I packed up 10 + boxes of books. It was hard to part with them (even though my Dad insisted I could get rid of even more) but I do appreciate having the guest room back. I found a charity that came and picked them up which reduced the lug-factor – maybe there is one near you?


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