18 April 2006


I haven't moved in nearly nine years, so you can imagine what it's like packing up my apartment. I am trying, in the way recommended by professional organizers, to be ruthless. My new place isn't any bigger than my current one, so I can't just bung everything into a box and stick it into a spare closet. I haven't worn this sweater in five years -- thrift shop! Do I need five non-stick frying pans? No I do not. Gone.

But the books, the books, my friends. What do I do about them?

It's not that I'm opposed to getting rid of some of them. I am never going to embark on that ancient Greek philosophers course; I can get rid of the Plato. And even though I like to reread them, the paperback PD James mysteries can be sent to my parents' vacation house for their renters to enjoy (my parents are thrilled, let me tell you).

Unfortunately, that seems to be as far as I can go. My books say something about me, and I want people who see them to see them and say, "ah, yes, she is that kind of person; the eclectic, physics-and-contemporary-fiction-reading kind of person. We like her."

I'm also a classic-English-and-Russian-big-novel reader. And popular non-fiction. Then there's the entire Edith Wharton, Jane Austen and Graham Greene collections.

I can get rid of most of the short story collections. A lot of them are available online, and I don't really like the genre anyway. Except for Alice Munro. And maybe I should hang on to the Annie Proulx, since she's hot right now.

OK, the Thomas Pynchon and Don DeLillo can go; I think I was going through a phase, probably related to a boyfriend. And the two books of great bike rides in New York City could probably find a better home. I cannot part with any of my dictionaries, style guides or other writing reference books, though.

You see the problem, right?


Blogger tammara said...

My husband and I have the exact same problem (if we can even call it that? It isn't like a collection of bottle caps, for pete's sake...). We both cannot get rid of books. It's like pulling teeth. We have more bookcase in our house than any other type of furniture - each kid has a large bookcase as well. My dream house will have an entire room with floor-to-ceiling shelves.

The books must go with you. (Besides, you can get truly creative, stack them artfully and make a small side table - you can't do that with clothes you don't need!)

3:12 PM  
Blogger PG said...

Nooooo, you must never ever get rid of books you love...we cannot move for them here (as you've seen), but as someone who also lives in a small space, the answer - if you can afford it, it to utilise the space up the walls - as Tammara says, wall to wall shelves, doesn't matter how cheap, they'll be covered in books.

I took inspiration from your new cavernous kitchen the other day ;) and replaced a space-wasting and ugly shelf unit in our matchbox with a smaller bookcase - for my vintage china - and we now have a kitchen both of us can stand in! This is progress and I'm full of ideas for space flexing elsewhere. It just needs ingenuity...who needs clothes anyway?

5:34 AM  
Blogger Stuntmother said...

I'm with PG -- we have more books than we ever imagined (as we carried them up and down the stairs when we replaced the floor). Still, I got rid of books when I moved to Cairo and I have always regretted it. You'll make it! I just tortured my family when I moved (ask M about moving my books), But that;s what families are for.) Moving! YAY! BOO. A complex process.

7:40 AM  

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