The other day something I had been avoiding for a while now smacked me in the face. Well actually, it knocked one of my Ditmars off a shelf and broke it (it’s one that was probably glued together in the first place so can be easily fixed, I hope). I’ve been in denial about it but the truth is – I have never actually unpacked my books and put them away in this house. Terri came to borrow a couple of books that I *know* I own but when I went looking for them, I couldn’t find them. Normally I am really pedantic about my books. They are the first possessions that I pack and move when I move house and I always always have a very specific way to shelve them.
Alas, I moved in with C in June last year and all I did was *unpack* my books. And locate them kind of in the study. I had lost bookcases in all my various house moves and all the bookcases here were full. So there was nowhere to unpack them into it. I did go and buy myself four bookcases from Ikea. Two are in the study and are filled hapazardly with my books. One got pilfered for C’s games in his man cave. And the fourth is in our bedroom and is filled with my To Be Read books. But there is no order or reason to any of my bookcases at the moment and worse, they nowhere near fit all of my book collection, some of which are stacked in front on the shelves (leading to Ditmar fatalities) or piled under my desk and just around.
I was really upset that I couldn’t lend Terri the books she was looking for. I did lend her some books she didn’t *know* she was looking for and I think that worked out ok. But I am really really unhappy that I don’t know which books are where and have just abandoned this part of settling in. I think maybe, I can’t really be properly settled in if my books aren’t.
On the weekend, I finally started to confront this issue. I started to sort my books into some grouping order – everything was just everywhere. As I started to sort them, I started to realise I could actually cull some books. This could help with the storage issue. And something else too. As I’ve continued to declutter, both in my physical and my electronic world, I’ve found a great sense of freedom and removal of weight from letting go or letting myself off the hook or out of the guilt of wanting to want to read or do or like certain things. I think this might also be part of settling into your late (eek!) thirties. I’m caring less about doing things to fit in. And I know we as a community pride ourselves on not doing things to fit in but even in this community, there is still pressure to read (and like) certain books or blogs or whatever. And I’ve started to notice that I force myself to try to like some things and then I ignore or don’t allow myself to just not. And lately, I’m kinda starting to let that go. Who cares if I don’t like something? Life is pretty short, too damn short, to spend it reading books you don’t like or doing something you don’t care for just because everyone else is. And as I start to let go, I’m actually finding I’m discovering ore of me in the process. But that’s something for another blog post.
So I realised that I didn’t need to keep books, to let them take up shelf space, just so I can impress someone else. If I don’t own a book any more, does that mean I didn’t read it? How would you know? And if I do own a book, does that mean I *have* read it? How would you know? So I started being ok with removing books from the collection. And some of that is about letting go of possessions I have dragged with me for the last 15 years and somehow contribute to defining me for that reason alone. I’m not done. I’m not nearly done. But I’m ok with having started.
I am still going to need more bookcases. But I have to first figure out where they would go.
But I’m actually posting about this to ask a question. I have more than one To Be Read area. My bookcase in my bedroom is my recent (last 2 to 3 years) accumulation of books to be read. I have another little bookcase (15 cm wide and only three shelves) in the study which is an overflow To Be Read bookcase, probably of books with a similar book stashing timeframe, possibly a bit longer. Kind of books I’m somewhat less wanting to read. This case can probably be properly sorted and perhaps weeded. But in my main book collection, I noticed I have a lot of books that I haven’t read but still want to own and at some point, not in the immediate future, intend to read. Some are classics and I never really feel bad about buying those and then popping them in the main collection. But not all are. And for some reason, I’m ok with them being there and not in the To Be Read and feel confident that when I feel like reading those specific titles, I will go looking for them. BUT … why don’t I feel that way about the main To Be Read books? And further, those books take up an entire bookcase. At some point, I intend to read them and then shelve them in the main collection. So … that means that I need another whole bookcase just for the To Be Read alone, assuming I continue to accumulate at a constant rate.
Do you keep your To Be Read books separately? How do you tell the difference between books you really intend to read and books you feel you should just own?
Tags: books, decluttering, reading