Who will deliver me from this pile of books?

Speaking of absolutes: I still believe, as a general principle, that there is no such thing as too many books, only too little shelf space.

In relative terms, however -- in this case, relative to the size of my apartment and the time and energy I have available to read or even manage my library -- I have too many books.

I have been trying to work around this fact for some weeks. Make that months. Purging my library, while a regular fact of life for an inveterate book accumulator such as myself, just has not been anywhere near the top of my priority list. But it's reached the point that the psychic clutter of having too many books around is interfering with the quality of my life. Not to mention that it makes the books I do want to consult more difficult to find. So it's high time to make some more room for myself by clearing out surplus books.

I have compiled, to this point, five paper grocery bags and two medium boxes full of surplus books. Conservatively, that's at least a couple hundred. And I'm not done yet.

I probably donate something like that number of books to various local charity shops annually. Books are easy-come, easy-go for me, since I tend to pick up anything that looks remotely interesting at library bag sales and the like, and then pack up a bag or two to pass along every couple of months, once they have sat around long enough to convince me that I'm really probably not going to get around to actually reading them any time soon.

But I usually don't have so many at once. Part of this is making up for lost time, part of it is that I've been more aggressive than usual in clearing out my personal backlist. Cumulatively, it means that I have a sizable mass of books of which to dispose.

So I'm contemplating what to do with them, as I finish sorting/shoveling.

They are not worth my while to list individually and sell online. I've checked out Craig's List as an alternate venue for selling by the lot, but it doesn't look that promising to me. Although I suppose I could try.

The path of least resistance is probably to haul all of them down to the Chapel Hill Public Library (or the Habitat for Humanity store, or Pennies for Change, or the PTA...) and donate for the next FOL sale. Which may yet be the conclusion of the matter. But the hoarder in me looks at all these books all at once, and can't resist the idea of doing something more fun and/or lucrative with the lot.

(Also, the bigger the pile, the more keen I am to have someone else come and take them away, rather than me personally hauling them to their destination. Even if it would be good exercise.)

So I'm thinking about maybe throwing a books-only yard sale next weekend. And/or throwing a book party and inviting friends over to paw through my books and (please oh please) take some away with them. Either of which would ultimately be more effort than just taking the lot to the CHPL, and would certainly still involve transferring the dregs (sorry, FOL!) to a charity. But they would also involve more social interaction, which I need in my life these days.

So if you're a local friend of mine and have any interest in free books, this is your invitation -- just let me know, and we can arrange a time for you to sift through my stacks. Surely you'll find something of interest among my discards. After all, hey, it's FREE BOOKS! That's even better than FREE FOOD! And if you have any other suggestions for unloading surplus literature, feel free to chime in.

The books in question are quite varied in subject matter. Mostly adult non-fiction, a mix of hardcovers and oversized paperbacks, in good or better condition, mostly of relatively recent vintage (e.g. the last 20 years, which is a moment in book-years). History, the arts, self-help, humor, philosophy, literary criticism, etc. etc. etc. The tenor of most volumes is what I would label "intelligent general reading" -- e.g., somewhere between popular pablum (although there is some of that) and exclusively academic (ditto).

This collection does not represent a wholesale purge of my professional library -- I'm not psychologically up for that project yet! -- so it's not predominated by Important Books for Christian Theology and Ethics. That said, a good third or so of the assortment does consist of titles in religion (mostly but not exclusively Christianity), all over the map from pop spirituality to classical biblical criticism.

A fair number of books I have picked up from time to time with the thought, "I might have to teach about this someday" have found their way into this pile. If, in the end, I still do end up having to teach about those things someday, well, that's why God made Desk Copies and Amazon.com.


Sarah said...

*laughing madly*

I guess now's not the time to remind you that the Durham County FOL sale is next weekend.

(Bad Sarah!)

Rachel said...

Not that I want to give y'all the impression that I'm in need of an intervention or anything...


I'm STILL going to go FOTDCL sale. (Thanks for the reminder! I'd lost track!)

Just because I have TOO MANY books, it does not follow that I do not need MORE books. Just different ones.

Besides, after my purge, I have a shelf and a half free for new aquisitions.

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