I've no problem keeping my clothes closet cleaned out, my kitchen fairly organized, but, oh, my, the books are a different matter. And I'm not even a collector. I don't hunt for first editions. I don't even care much about signed copies unless the books were written by good friends.
I should add that although our old house is fairly big, it has thirty-seven windows, and half as many doors. And art. Lots and lots of art. Not just the London Transport posters I've been collecting for many years (there are almost as many of those as there are windows...) but a good bit of other artwork and photos. So when you put all those things together there isn't that much wall space. There's never been a designated space for a proper library, just bookcases stuck wherever they would fit. Hall. Dining room. Both up and downstairs offices. And those bookcases had reached the point where they were double, sometimes triple and quadruple stacked, and the books were--literally--toppling out. I was having visions of being buried by books...
And these, mind you, are only the books I READ, not the books I've written. In January, I started the
Great Book Project--an attempt to organize, catalog, and properly store (or dispose of) twenty years worth of multiple editions of my own novels. Everything went into our dining room, as you can see here. Ugly. I hired some great help, and within six weeks there was progress. I now had a pretty good idea WHAT I had, and most of the US and UK books were boxed and cataloged. Then I went on book tour. Then England. The project came to a dead halt. Andhere we are in July--stasis.
But it's all this huge domino thing--in order to find some shelf and storage space, all those OTHER books had to be organized and pared down, too. So yesterday I tackled the bookshelves with a vengeance. And rolls of damp paper towels. The accumulated dust and dog hair, oh, my...
Some progress. About half the downstairs bookshelves are done. The upstairs office, not quite so much. I discovered some treasures. I'm giving away things I should probably keep and keeping some battered copies I should probably give away. (Or throw away.)
Here are just some of the books going to Half Price Books tomorrow. I ran out of boxes and bags. But in the photo at the top of the page you can see one newly tidy set of shelves, and here are two more.
And yes, there is some empty shelf space, but not for long. Books from other places in the house will fill those spots.
So how to keep this from starting all over again?
I'm joining the digital revolution. I was a holdout on e-books. I didn't get any kind of an e-reader until Rick gave me a tablet for Christmas, and now, after a few months of testing the waters, I'm a convert. I've discovered I love reading on my tablet. It's fast, I can make the font bigger, I can switch from book to book, it's comfortable to hold in bed, and I'm not always losing my place. And the stories are just as good!
I don't mean I'm giving up paper books altogether. There will always be books I want to hold in my hands. Books I want to share with friends and family. But I will think really seriously from now on about where a book is going to go on a shelf. And I suspect that having done one major purge, parting with more books will become easier.
As for what to do with my own books in all their incarnations, I'm still working on that one, and that's another blog.
So, REDS and READERS, are you downsizing your libraries, and if so, how do you decide what to keep?
PS: And I'd really like to have my dining room back...