“This time, however, it felt very different. I wasn’t just pruning and thinning here and there. This was “biblio clear-cutting.” I committed to keep only those books that I truly cherish, really want to read, or have some prospect of using in my post-teaching career.This hurt. I said good-bye to hundreds of books. But I also found that radical downsizing of a personal library can be instructive.”

Downsizing, Donald Yerxa*

I am always impressed – favorably – by friends, people who love and cherish books but are able to let go of them with such grace and little angst.  I keep telling myself that I should be combing through my shelves regularly, systematically.  But it goes in spurts, and I keep receiving more than I cull.  But they are really good books, ones I will love, I’m sure!   

*If only proper names could be used in Scrabble!  We know a couple, Zane and Quinn, whose names could win you a Scrabble game.


7 thoughts on “Downsizing

  1. I fear I might have gotten rid of a particular book in a fit of downsizing.  I looked to replace it and Amazon lists it as $78 new, and around $50 used. AAARRRRGGGGGHHHHH If I got rid of it, it was on a garage sale, and I only spent maybe $22 on it new!  Fie those impulses.I may still have it around here somewhere…I have my fingers crossed.  Maybe I loaned it to someone…but who?

  2. C – I read that article and it gave me the shakes. 🙂 We’ve been purging a lot – A LOT – with our upcoming move. I even went through and weeded out a few things from my hymnal collection – things that might have been categorized as doubles. There. I did my part. I always think that the books we will leave behind are a big part of the legacy of a reading life, you know?? People who aren’t voracious readers like you don’t get it, likely… I’m not as voracious, but I love to re-read things that I liked, so I have a very hard time passing books along…Hence the JI Packer that remains for me to have him sign it on Thursday. :)S

  3. OH man…you bring up such difficult subjects!  First it was death…and now a fate worse than death!   I so lack the grace and discipline to cull the books.  Go ahead…try and pry them out of my hands…I dare you!

  4. Like you I easily accumulate books, but I have the advantage of having to move every four years (sometimes more often) and then I cull out the books I´ve read that were so-so and the books that I´ll probably never read.  It hurts until they are out of sight (usually in garbage bags on the sidewalk.)  Then I´m okay. =)

  5. Oh yes, doing this in a homeschool library also caused this teacher to ponder the breadth and depth of many subjects never covered. A painful realization, but neither does one need to teach a timeperiod from ten different sources.  So, all in all, it’s a very necessary task. Even the literature that didn’t call to any of us has had to go. There’s a certain freedom and even an additional joy when I earned a little money from the recent sale to helped my oldest buy a nice camera for her birthday and graduation gift. Thanks for the great post.

  6. @Wildflowersp – This comment has been hibernating in my inbox, but I really wanted to reply.  I have re-bought a book at least three times.  In a fit of efficiency I decided I really didn’t need the book and abandoned it.  Then I either re-read the review that caused me to want it in the first place, or heard someone rave, or for some other reason decided I really *needed* that book.  Fie those impulses, indeed!

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