Like a lot of book lovers, I have overworked bookshelves. A few years ago, I got rid of quite a few books–because I had several dozen books stacked on the floor.

After that, my books fit, if you define fit as (minus my dozen oversize books, and small stack of books I haven’t read yet) no books sitting on the floor.

This is fit, right?

These fit, right?

I’ve read a bunch of posts recently about people culling their bookshelves, and it’s been making me think I need to do so again. I’ve read every book on this shelf at least once.

But some of them I haven’t read again.

Is that because I can’t see half the books on my shelves without moving things around? Or is it because I enjoyed a book once but don’t really want to read it again?

The problem is that when I ask myself ‘Will I read this book again?’ the answer seems like ‘Yes,’ or at least ‘Probably.’

I’ve decided the better question is ‘If you found this book at a bookstore, would you buy it?’

Since I’ve already cut all the obviously excess books, another trim would require re-reading any book that’s in question, and then making a stay-or-go decision. And maybe I’m so attached to the majority of them that I won’t make much progress–but perhaps I can give my shelves a little breathing space.

I’m determined to try.

About Caitlin Stern

I have a MA in English, and have so many fantasy/urban fantasy WIPs it's not even funny. I'm an avid reader of science fiction, fantasy, mystery, romance, biography, fiction, and anything else that catches my interest. I collect books, and bookmarks I find that are visually appealing and useful.

7 responses »

  1. Marcia says:

    Be of good cheer. I not only can’t let go of books, I have a real problem letting go of magazines and even catalogs! I have baskets of magazines, especially gardening ones, that go back more than ten years! I’ve always considered them reference files. I have been being brutal lately, though, and have gotten rid of hundreds of them.

    Form my books, I’m luckier in this house than I’ve ever been. I have a LIBRARY! An actual room I can dedicate to my computer desk and wall to wall bookshelves. But I’m still running out of room. I have a habit of wanting my bookshelves to look a certain way, and I like to stick little arcane things among the books that refer to something within them. (It’s like my private joke, as most visitors have no idea why I would have a miniature gargoyle sitting by my Rachel Morgan books, or an athame in the same area. I have my own Bob the Skull perched there, and a whole bunch more. So I’m wasting storage space, for sure. But like you, culling books goes against everything in my heart, whether I’m ever going to read them again or not. And with some series, I just want to own the entire set, especially if I like the covers. They are like collectibles. There are even a few that I have on my shelves AND on my Kindle (which now has 300 books on it, btw, but that’s another obsession.)

    I think we book lovers just can’t help ourselves and we will fill up every inch that’s available to us. Get a bigger bookshelf? Not really the answer. You’ll just fill it, too.
    There are worse obsessions, I think.

    • caitlinstern says:

      More bookshelves are always the answer.
      No, wait, that’s 42.

      I wish I had a library room, but I don’t. If I did, I’d worry less about my book count. Still, I think it’s best to hold on to only the books you will read again.

      Otherwise they’re only taking up space, and would be better off in someone else’s library.

      You should put up pictures of your shelf-art. Sounds nifty to me. 🙂

      • Marcia says:

        Yes, you are probably right, but my books are my friends. (And they’ve never let me down!) Seriously, I collect them like some women collect shoes. And as I say, I love having all the books in a series that I love. You couldn’t get me to part with a single Dresden File book, not even the worn paperbacks, for instance. Or Weather Wardens, or Rachel Morgan, or anything by Marisa de Los Santos or Sarah Addison Allen. Or my classics, like anything by Daphne du Maurier or Edgar Allan Poe, or, or… well, you get my drift. *sigh* It’s an addiction.

        Having a library is the most wonderful thing about this house. As soon as we walked in, and I saw the room off of the family room (it was once a porch, but was enclosed some years ago), I knew it would be the library, and I knew this would be the house for us. I’ve ALWAYS wanted one, and now this little room is all mine! *happy sigh* Someday I’ll take some photos of my arcane collection. I think I may have posted one of Bob the Skull once, in a Santa Claus hat. He celebrates all the holidays.

  2. The last time I tried to cull, planning to donate to the charity booksale, I came up with one — one — book I was willing to let go. In the end, I kept it because it seemed silly to travel across town on transit to donate one book. 🙂

    You’re not alone.

    • caitlinstern says:

      I have some gift books still in my library, and I think that’s where I may have some success.
      Because if someone gives me a book, I’ll take it. But I don’t necessarily need to keep it. (They’ll never know.)

  3. AllanBorne says:

    You’re not the only one. I’ve built up a mini library without realizing it myself :3

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