Friday, March 25, 2005


The Mountain of Books

My book collection is way out of control. If I believed I would read and use all the books, I would keep every one. My book buying has been [almost] compulsive (but I'm getting better at resisting). I think I have to have it! And I'll scoop it up. Of course it's a great book, but do I need it? Am I going to actually decide to (finally) read it? How soon will I have the time to read it? I can't tell you how many times I've thought that I have to have a brand new book in hard cover ... right then. Of course, I don't get to read it right away. By the time I get to read it, the book has come out in mass market paperback and is in its third printing. And there are more wonderful books being published every month. I don't do this any more.

Am I hoarding books for leaner times? Is it a weird form of security? Is it some kind of protection? Am I nuts? Do I think that books will be burned (Fahrenheit 451) and I'd better have plenty?

My estimates may be conservative, but do I need four linear feet of books on Feng Shui? Another four on Tai Chi and Qi Gong? At least four more on alternative medicine? Sixteen feet or more of varied self-help (I need all the help I can get!)? Maybe eight or nine feet of assorted art books, from how to draw and paint to clay and sculpture? Untold quantities of fiction? At least four feet of travel books and at least that many on languages? Who wouldn't want to learn how to read and write Kanji? I don't know how many cookbooks ... that I'll probably never use. There are more categories still. But you get the idea.

So, what on earth do I think I'm doing? I just like the idea of books? Not just ... I do like to read them, but it's recently occurred to me that I don't have to have every book on a subject that interests me! No more book hoarding for me!

Part of the problem is that I find so many different things interesting ... the possibilites of what I could do seem endless ... what a great book on paper making ... growing your own plants for dye ... oh, wilderness survival ... hmmm ... candle making ... soap making ... weaving. What a great book on architecture ... cultural etiquette ... electricity ... whatever ... the list does go on and on.

It is clear that I need to bring a few interest into sharp focus and actually put my attention there. My maternal grandmother told me when I was in my twenties ... paraphrased ... do you know what your problem is ... you're too scattered, you need to focus. She was right. For years I've been trying to find my true passion ... You know: find the work you love. Of course, I've been so scattered that I've only touched on things, really, skimmed the surface. Did I pass it by, not recognizing it? This is too sad to ponder.

I'm digressing a bit. The matter at hand. Reduce the mountain of books. Lighten my load. Make these wonderful gems available to someone else who might actually read them.

You already know I'm not giving up every single book. I don't think that I need to at this point. I'm going to shoot for keeping about six (arbitrary number) books in each category (except fiction), give or take ... six books that I will actually read, use, study. Can you imagine the possibilities if I actually read and studied and applied what I learned from six self-help books? The mind boggles.

If I can really pare my book collection (it's more an accumulation), I will truly have a big start on decluttering ... myself and my environment.

So, I'm going to militantly look at my stacks of books, one at a time and list as many as possible for sale ( - this is a great place to sell your books and videotapes; of course you have to price to sell. You won't be "making" money in the usual sense. If you paid $19.95 for the book, and are selling it for $2.25, that is not a profit. But, it is cash flow and it is "recycling" -- It's going to someone who wants that book and finds the described condition acceptable.) For the book where the competitive price is down to 75 cents, and there are 22 people who have already listed it at that price, I may decide to keep it ... or find it a different home. Overall, this is not a bad way to go. It does take some time and organization (you have to be able to find it to mail it as soon as you make a sale).

Last night I listed at least 40 books for sale ... and considered at least 25 more that didn't make the cut .. ones I decided to keep or didn't list because the competitive price was too low and the value of the books were far greater.

If I can turn the mountain into a hillock ... I will be making real progress.

Maybe my space won't always look like an attic. I'm beginning to think this might work. Of course, I'm writing this blog instead of listing books.

Rationalization: If I can determine how I've gotten myself into such an overwhelming state ... so much stuff every which way, maybe I won't automatically create such a condition again.
I applaude your efforts. I often make a pile of books to sell but they always drift back to the shelves.
I have made you my "blog of the day" on my site,
Wow, you sound just like me. I'm 28 and I'm going to read your blog in full and try to learn from it. So in that respect your efforts (and how you got into the state in the first place) are totally worthwhile.
Thanks :)
K x
p.s. I found your blog via the lady above's website. Small world, hey?
Girlfriend, why are you getting rid of your books? Don't you know that the one with the most books WINS! And I thought you were giving me some serious competition in that department! I love my books, buy more all the time before I finished what I bought last time! And I, too, have varied content in subject matter! To me getting rid of any of my books would be like someone giving away a child, I think! Well, good luck with your endeavors!
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