We are a commune of inquiring, skeptical, politically centrist, capitalist, anglophile, traditionalist New England Yankee humans, humanoids, and animals with many interests beyond and above politics. Each of us has had a high-school education (or GED), but all had ADD so didn't pay attention very well, especially the dogs. Each one of us does "try my best to be just like I am," and none of us enjoys working for others, including for Maggie, from whom we receive neither a nickel nor a dime. Freedom from nags, cranks, government, do-gooders, control-freaks and idiots is all that we ask for.
I did manage yesterday get rid of my quota of 1000 books, with the help of two energetic Philipino helpers. (I do not mind stereotyping: I love all Philipinos. Just the best brand of people in the world.) Some to the book exchange, lots to dumpster, but I saved many old friends to replenish my shelves when repainting and floor-refinishing of my work space/library is done. Because they mean the most to me. Difficult choices for sure.Why keep a book if nobody ever intends to read it again? Books are not decor - they are friends, worlds. A painful chore, purging a home of excess.
Amongst it all, I found my journal of my first trip to Europe at age 10. I did not recognize the author - so detailed, so serious. Details about a pet store in Edinburgh. The Zermatt hike to the foot of Matterhorn, worrying about my baby brother on the cliffs. Whenever we traveled, Mom made us keep daily journals. Even then it was clear I loved traveling on ships. Unless the Navy tired you of blue water, nothing is more exciting and North Atlantic weather can be a real kick.
Also found my copy of L'etranger in French from high school, with my penciled notes. Stuff like that. My first copy of Peterson's Bird Guide, with my notes from childhood, falling apart. I noticed my excited notes on my first Bobolink. I took a deep breath and tossed it.
I am all about books, hate TV and movies, generally. My problem is that I forget too much of what I read. Born that way I guess. Mrs. BD reads less than I do, but remembers everything. Quiz her on opera plots or play plots sometime if you see her. You will get an earful.
I regularly cull my book shelves. I don't have all that much space and fewer treasures. I am, however, very protective of some: 1st edition of The Old Man And The Boy by Ruark, autographed copy of Eddie Rickenbacker's biography, A Book On Duck Shooting by Van Campen Heilner, The Sea Eagle by Lowell Thomas, the Red Baron's autobiography. Also quite a few that I revisit periodically just to page through and feel the paper. Love 'em all.
I used to have a large library, thinking that the more knowledge I acquired, the better my life would be. Later in life, I realized that acquiring knowledge is like wetting your pants in a dark suit - It gives you a warm feeling but nobody notices.
Umberto Eco got rid of the books he had read, and kept a library of a few thousand that he hoped to read. If the mood struck him, it was right to hand. Similarly, Tyler Cowan drops a book to the follor wherever he is standing when he gets to a point where he has extracted the juice, and believes he can continue the thought on his own better than the author can do for him. I thought those challenging ideas, and they have helpded me get rid of nostalgia books.
On the other hand, CS Lewis believed that if a book was not worth rereading, it probably wasn't worth reading the first time either.
Assistant Village Idiot
Our relatively small house had become dominated by books. When our children were young, I justified my love of being surrounded by books with the thought that their presence would display the value of reading. All four of our offspring are readers but the idea that it was due to the mountain of books they had to walk around is dubious.
Eventually I came to realize I wasn't going to reread these books nor ever read some of them. But it isn't easy to become unattached. I mulled it over for a couple of years. With much encouragement from my family, I finally let go. Many, many boxes of books were donated to the local library's used book fundraiser. It felt good knowing the books were out in the world to be read.
It felt so good, I ventured into the books left in our children's old bedrooms. There were several bags of old Star Wars novels I planned to pass on. "Not Boba Fett," my thirty year old twins exclaimed.
The irony of their comments after their great encouragement in helping me let go of my books was obvious. But the memory of their eleven year old selves taking turns reading Boba Fett stories aloud to me when they discovered I didn't know who Boba Fett was fills my sentimental heart. The books sit in their old room, unread but not unloved, awaiting the day when my sons can let them go.
You'll pry my books out of my cold dead fingers....
That said, I threw a torch into a lifetime accumulation of books and other clutter without a backward glance. OK, it was my daughters lifetime and she was not barely 5. Still, it was about 3000 books. I've been doing this all my life since I was 25.
I believe that work is by John F. Peto. He lived the last of his life in Island Heights, New Jersey and was a prolific painter of everyday still life, he had a particular fascination with books.
He studied at the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, he passed away in Island Heights in 1907. I lived right around the corner from him home for many years, which is now a museum.
My problem is that I forget too much of what I read. Born that way I guess.
I have the same issue but I don't consider it a problem. I'm rereading Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy for about the 4th time at the moment. It's like revisiting an old friend but it still manages to surprise me. Lovely.
Ditto, for me. I'm not looking forward to that day when I have to cull out my bookcases. But, I think I can now safely toss all the books I had read on handicapping races (heh - cost me more at the track after reading them). Probably my books on chess, too. I'll just solve the puzzles in the newspapers or go online if it feeling gamey.
I'm a bibliophile, too, with a collection that constantly gets out of control. I'll be culling my books once again soon. But I don't get how you can hate movies? You mean, "Citizen Kane", "Casablanca", "The Searchers", "The Best Years of Our Lives"? Seriously?
Not me! I cull very reluctantly. I used to buy and read a lot more books than I do now, but most of my books and a large part of my parent's library is most assuredly with me as long as I can hold on to them. I read and re-read volumes all the time; books that interested me peripherally when younger are occasionally much more interesting now. Rhhardin (above) has it right; I do the same thing, and need to build more shelves this winter.