Booking Through Thursday: Weeding

btt button The Booking Through Thursday for today is:

We’re moving in a couple weeks (the first time since I was 9 years old), and I’ve been going through my library of 3000+ books, choosing the books that I could bear to part with and NOT have to pack to move. Which made me wonder…

When’s the last time you weeded out your library? Do you regularly keep it pared down to your reading essentials? Or does it blossom into something out of control the minute you turn your back, like a garden after a Spring rain?

Or do you simply not get rid of books? At all? (This would have described me for most of my life, by the way.)

And–when you DO weed out books from your collection (assuming that you do) …what do you do with them? Throw them away (gasp)? Donate them to a charity or used bookstore?  SELL them to a used bookstore? Trade them on Paperback Book Swap or some other exchange program?

I “weed it” every now and then, but not systematically — just whenever the excess stacked in double rows on shelves starts to bug me…like it is now. We just don’t have room for any more bookcases, and I hate the thought of putting them in the attic where bugs or humidity or temperature extremes might damage them, though I do have a few boxes of children’s books up there that I hope stay in good condition for grandchildren. I love the idea of reading them the same books I read to my kids. But otherwise I’d much rather someone got some use out of them now rather than have them stuffed in the attic for years and then rotting.

When I do give them away, first I consider whether anyone I know would want any of them, then whether my son’s school library could use them. I’ve given some away via blog giveaways, but most of the time my giveaways aren’t books I’m trying to get rid of: they’re books I bought extra copies of because I liked them so much I want others to enjoy them, too. But most go to a charity like Salvation Army.  My mom used to live near a store that would let you trade in used books for store credit, but I don’t know if we have any bookstores that do that here — the only bookstore I am aware of is Barnes and Noble, and I am sure they don’t! I haven’t checked out online book swaps. I just don’t want to mess with listing them and then packaging and sending them, though I might think about that if I have a book for a particular audience that I think might languish away at a charity store.

A related question would be how one decides what books to get rid of. That is a very hard task. Some books are almost like dear friends that I have shared special times with: there’s something wistful or nostalgic about keeping them. Plus if I think I might use it again, it will cost more to buy it later, so it is more economical to keep it. But when “weeding” I try to ask myself these questions:

1. Am I ever realistically going to read this again?

2. Do I honestly think I’ll ever refer to it again?

3. Do I seriously think my children might want it some day?

4. Could someone else get more use out of it than it is getting just sitting here on my shelf?

It’s still not easy to part with them, but that last questions especially helps.

17 thoughts on “Booking Through Thursday: Weeding

  1. These are very useful questions to ask oneself when preparing to clear out a personal library. I’ll definitely keep them in mind next time when I want to go through my books.

  2. My excuse for not getting rid of it are all the questions you asked. My fav one is “My kids may need to read this for school one day.” My oldest is in college! LOL!

  3. “Some books are almost like dear friends that I have shared special times with: there’s something wistful or nostalgic about keeping them.”

    Indeed. Sometimes it’s very hard to part with particular books. That’s why I try to find them in ebook format and read them from my computer. The classics are thankfully easy to find at the Gutenberg project.

  4. The book weeding thing is soooo hard. I love my books. Sometimes I’ve gotten tough with myself and gotten rid of books only to go get it at some point and not be able to find it and realize I must have given it away. Sigh.

  5. Wait a minute — weren’t you just remodeling and decorating the craft room? Now you’re moving? What I have I missed?

    As for books — if I love it, I hate to part with it, but I have moved so many times — and will be moving again very soon — that I have learned not to become too attached.

  6. No, I’m not moving. The part in the gray shaded area is the quote of the question of the week from the BTT site — that person is moving and asking everyone else how they “weed” through their books. For some reason on this template when you click “quote” it puts it in gray and doesn’t indent it — strange. I should probably just use the indent rather than the quote function.

  7. I like those questions and I find it useful to determine whether or not to keep the books. But the thing is… I find it really, really hard to dispose off the books in whatever ways (donations, sell, etc.). I’m a hoarder…

  8. Years ago, I kept all of my books. When we moved in ’93 after living in the same places for 12 and 15 years, I sold some and donated the rest to the library after giving the children any they wanted. Now, I swap with my daughter and then we decide to donate them to Nursing Homes and thrift shops. A few of my favorites, I keep because I’ve read them more than once and will more than likely read them again. The Mitford Series is one and all of the Elm Creek Quilt books are another. In January, our women’s club had a book swap and my Book Club members often share books with each other. I don’t try to sale them these days.
    Bookins is a good online swap venue. I’ve used them. You get points when a book sales to use toward purchase of other books. The only fee is postage. When one of your books is wanted, they notify you by email and you print out the mailing label they provide. Most books will fit in the padded mailers so you just attach the label with tape and place it in your mailbox.
    We had a store like you mentioned in Chattanooga when I lived there. I loved it.
    Mama Bear

  9. Pingback: Meme of Reading Questions « Stray Thoughts

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