Culling the Library

I have often said that my To Be Read book pile is an overflowing seven shelf book case.  So overflowing that I can’t actually see all of the books that are on it and once or twice a year, I buy a book that I already have.  Thursday night, at the library Used Books Store, I thought I might have done that.

Around that time, my friend Holly forwarded an email that she received regarding the Evanston Library having a used book sale.   I’ve been avoiding these since starting the “stop buying fiction” experiment.  But this one advertised that it had leftover stock from Bookman’s Alley, a fantastic used book store that closed last year.  So we went.

I had two rules:

  1. Only as many books as you can carry in your arms all at once (I use this in every bookstore and book sale) and;
  2. Do not buy anything that is likely to show up in my own library’s Used Book Store any time soon.

I bought one book for a friend of my mother’s who is ill and five books for me:

Evanston Library Book Sale Take


Over lunch after the sale, Holly and I were lamenting how much stuff we have and our terribly inefficient use of space and I knew that I was going to have to suck it up and cull more books.  I have culled books before.  Generally, they have been books I didn’t like.  A year or so ago I gained nearly a whole shelf just by pulling old biographies of Kennedys.  When I got home, I took a hard look and targeted three things:

  1. Mass market paperbacks.  Seriously, if the book is so great, I should have found a better copy by now.  (In some cases, I had.)
  2. Popular fiction.
  3. Biographies and memoirs.

That last one was hard.  I love a good memoir and it always seems to me that any non-fiction has some value under the heading of For Future Reference.  But really, reference?  That’s what Google is for.  And it isn’t like one is likely to read a memoir twice.  In about an hour, I had compiled this:


Most of my Anne Rice, which were hardcovers.  The Hannibal Lecter books.  Most of the V books.  And all but one of the old V.C. Andrews books. (My Sweet Audrina had to stay, though I couldn’t tell you why.)  I did not touch my history shelves or any classics – except for Sister Carrie which I am. never. going to read – and I barely pulled anything from what might be called “literary fiction”.

I took these eight bags and one box straight to the library Used Book Store where my friend Sarah was already overwhelmed with the books of other people that had been Spring cleaning and making donations.  So I said that I would put in an hour with her and see if we could get through them – at least pricing and perhaps shelving.  And so we did.

When I came home and shuffled things around I found that I had a tiny bit more space on several shelves, and I had this:


Three Shelves


Three empty shelves!  Which I promptly filled with the random, overflow, To Be Read piles:


Three Shelves Nearly Full Again


All that work and you can hardly tell that I did anything.

I’m going to go read now.

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