Thursday, March 15, 2012

The stickiness of books

Of all the items I've helped clients sort through and evaluate during my years as a professional organizer, it never fails to amaze me how books above pretty much all else are considered off limits for purging. People who otherwise have no qualms about donating all manner of other things, even about ditching sentimental items, have a thing about books.

On the one hand, I understand, because I have plenty of books in my apartment that I'm probably not going to read again, that still have value for me. But I'm able to be fairly rational about them and don't have qualms about taking those that really aren't useful or loved right down to the used bookstore or Goodwill.

I think books hold a lot of power for people because they seem them as containing knowledge, and if you own the book, than somehow you own the knowledge inside, too. Books can be very aspirational for people. I know I've been hanging on to a copy of Henry James's The Americans for a few years, thinking I'm going to read it, but it usually gets pushed down the reading list by the latest Eloisa James historical romance.

If you have enough bookshelf space for your books, then I'm not suggesting you have a book problem. But many people store books in boxes in garages, attics and basements. This is a recipe for ruined books.

It can be kind of fun to quickly scan your shelves and pull out those books you really didn't like when you read them, or that you have two of, or reference books that are completely outdated. Gather them up, put them in your car and drop them off at your nearest donation site. You'll be just as smart as you were before, I promise!

How do you feel about letting books go?

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