Multiples

5 Jan

I try to be really good about keeping track of my books. I have to be.

(Have you looked at my TBR shelf on Goodreads?

No?

Go look at the total.

I’ll wait.

I own all but 27 of those 420 books.)

Obviously, with such an extensive library I have to be really on top of the books that I buy, which is why I typically have my iPhone out, checking my TBR list via the mobile Goodreads site when I go to a bookstore. Because I will pick up a book, think it looks great, and buy it without realizing I did the exact same thing with the exact same book 2 weeks ago. It causes problems.

Then factor in that I live with my parents and they are also voracious readers and their books are not factored (well, mostly) into that TBR shelf.

There are just bound to be multiples floating around my shelves. I discovered at least five of them this weekend, but I know that there are more, mostly between my books and my parents’ books.

Space is certainly a factor as well. I love my books and I love owning them. But a girl can only have so many bookshelves and so many stacks of books on the floor before someone calls Hoarders; so I have no problem getting rid of these multiples*. But ask me to pare down the rest of my books? Are you kidding me? It just can’t be done.

The New York Times asked several authors how they get rid of books, which ones are excessive, and which ones you know you will NEVER read. But I side with Joshua Ferris, author of “Then We Came to the End,” on this one:

Get rid of books? Are you kidding? The only reason anyone should get rid of a book is if they’re going for that Japanese minimalist design look in which the room is all white and not even the drawers are visible. For those of us with more modest decor goals, living everyday lives with clutter and old clothes, cats and children, sour towels hanging from the rack, knickknacks, pilled throws, boring old mementos, what could be more essential than books?

The great works of fiction, the art books with full-color plates, the wispy illustration books full of peewee nostalgia — I’d never willingly part with one of them. Insignificant books, untouched books, even those books I consider physical nuisances — same. I have books on the bookshelves, books in the basement, books under the bed, books piled high on top of my wife.

Sometimes when I hear of a book I want, I buy it and then I put it away with every reassurance that it will be read soon, forget about it, hear about it again, buy it again, and only realize my mistake when I place it next to its twin on the bookshelf. It’s an addiction of good intentions.

Books are notes from the field, bound and domesticated, life brought into narrow focus. Get rid of a book? No way. Every one is a brick keeping the building standing. Books are my life. I leave and come back, and the books I find there tell me I’m home.

That last line there? That’s my whole philosophy. That’s where the name of this blog comes from, along with the quote over there under my picture. As someone who has spent her whole life moving from point A to point B, books are how I know I’m home. So you can delete that email you’re drafting to A&E, thankyouverymuch.

*I’d like to get some money back for these unread books, but sadly all the major book retailers won’t take back books without a receipt. Anyone have any other suggestions?

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