Books ... Why keep 'em?

TalkThe Green Dragon

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Books ... Why keep 'em?

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Edited: Jan 17, 2008, 7:59am

I watched an old episode of Seinfeld last night. He asked why we keep books after we have read them. What is the point of hanging on to a book that you are never going to read again?

As I look at my library, I realize that it is most unlikely that I will ever read most of them again. They will stay in my bookcases until I die and then someone will sell them, give them away or throw them away.

Give me a good reason why I should not sell them now.

Jan 17, 2008, 8:04am

My books are like friends for me: it takes some time to get to know them, but afterwards the memories of them will stay with me for a long time. Ok, many of them I wont look at for a long time, but when I need them, they are there, right in front of me. Many of them are not perfect (who is?) but they make my brain move, give me new ideas, comfort me when I need to be comforted, make me laugh when I need a laugh.... And they stay with me my whole life...

Jan 17, 2008, 8:10am

Hmmm. I guess mainly I am amassing a diverse library for my daughter. She reads even more than I do. In fact, when I go into her room, I notice so many of my books have already been pilfered and added to her collection. She already has 3 book cases in there. She'll probably be getting another one this Summer. ;o)

When I eventually downsize, and move to the Old Hobbits' Home, I'll probably let her take whatever she wants, and I'll unload what I don't ever plan to read again.

Jan 17, 2008, 8:12am

Many of my books are non-fiction and I do, occasionally, dip into them. I wouldn't want to be without them.

I also have a collection of most of Dennis Wheatley's books The Satanist, To The Devil A Daughter, etc. that I know I will never read again. It was a passing fad when I was much younger. They look good on the shelf but there is no other reason I can think of to keep them.

Jan 17, 2008, 8:14am

#4 - Well, think of them as decorative accents, then. ;o)
That's a good enough excuse for some folks to have whole walls of Hummels or Waterford Crystal bells, and whatnot, right? Why not a few books?

Edited: Jan 17, 2008, 8:18am

#3 My daughters take my books too! I have searched for books I know I have somewhere and later I have found them in my daughter's house in California. No bad thing. It feels good to know that they like what I like.

Jan 17, 2008, 8:32am

I would be miffed if my kids took my classic Terry Pratchett books, or my treasured Yotsuba@! manga volumes. Then after much yelling and crying I would get over it. I hope...

Jan 17, 2008, 8:37am

You're absolutely right and you should instantly sell the ones that you will never read again. Unfortunately I would hazard a guess that most people are probably much like me (always a dangerous guess). I reckon that I might read about one third of my books again. Unfortunately apart from a few clear favourites I don't know which third. It's a bit like the old saying about advertising, Half of it is a waste of money, you just don't know which half...

Jan 17, 2008, 9:31am

I re-read constantly. I'll read most of my books 5 times at least, many much more than that. Those that I don't intend to re-read becasue they were rubbish will get passed on to make room for more, but they are few.

Jan 17, 2008, 10:03am

I am of the "get rid of 'em" school of thought. I hate to say it, but I agree with Seinfeld I am not going to read a majority of them again, so I don't see why I should keep them. My husband keeps every book he reads... which irritates me to no end. I want them all to stop cluttering up our house and go away. They are not decorative, they are dust gatherers!

Jan 17, 2008, 10:03am

I am of the "get rid of 'em" school of thought. I hate to say it, but I agree with Seinfeld I am not going to read a majority of them again, so I don't see why I should keep them. My husband keeps every book he reads... which irritates me to no end. I want them all to stop cluttering up our house and go away. They are not decorative, they are dust gatherers!

Jan 17, 2008, 10:14am

I'm like reading_fox, although since the advent of LT I've discovered so many new books I haven't had as much time to re-read! But I love all my old books and I often will just take one out and just read a passage here and there. And I often will pick one up just to check a reference, you know, I hear a question on Jeopardy or something mentioned on the radio or in another book and then I can go to my books and find it, very satisfying.

Also, lots of my books are gifts from special people in my life so have sentimental value too.

And lastly I think my wall of books in our living room just looks absolutely fantastic, even though I do have to dust it on rare occasions ;-)

Jan 17, 2008, 10:27am

My cases of books serve many purposes for me. I seldom re-read an entire book but I pull them off the shelf and refer to them as a part of a conversation, frequently. I love being able to look stuff up. I know I could do that with Google and Wikipedia but I know the info in my books, and I know how reliable it is.

I also love to lend books to friends, especially when they are expressing an interest in things in which I am (or was) interested.

I like to revisit the time in my life when I was reading certain volumes. This being justified by my past is probably the weakest of my reasons, and it contributes to my holding on to pieces of art, some pieces of decorative "junk" and I am slowly being able to let go of a lot of that stuff when I think about how it negatively affects my current life.

My books don't negatively affect my current life, yet. If and when they do I am sure I will be able to find a way to let them go respectfully. I am getting to know the used book policies of many books stores in this area.

Lastly, I just like having a lot of books around so I can always sit down and read.

Jan 17, 2008, 11:38am

I fantasize that one day I will meet some one who likes the same books that I do. We will peruse each other's libraries and it will be like finding a treasure trove. We will recommend our favourites and lend them to each other.

mmm. I realized that I have just described LibraryThing ... except for the lending.

Jan 17, 2008, 11:55am

I bet you could do some small scale judicious lending/borrowing. The Early Reviewers have an informal exchange of ER books. I don't imagine LT wants to institutionalize this practice (never a lender nor a borrower be - Ben Franklin); however, by use of leaving comments on people's profile page one could probably effect some exchanges.

Jan 17, 2008, 1:07pm

I read elsewhere in an LT group that people who have to ask a question such as "Why do you keep books you know you'll never read again" are simply not true book-lovers. I am a true book lover and I part only with books that are truly horrendous (stupid, badly written, most chic lit, etc.) or that become terribly anachronistic (such as those that say most cancers are incurable or that George Bush is a brilliant president).

My library of 3,415 books (and ever growing) that lives on nearly every wall of most rooms in my home will remain until I die (with the exceptions already noted) -- and I will probably haunt (with great and devious subtlety) those of my children who dispose of them afterwards.

Why do we keep our books? If you have to ask, you simply don't understand.

Jan 17, 2008, 1:10pm

I did actually just go through my house this fall and removed all the books I knew I'd never read again. I was furiously decluttering, and desperate to have space. I am only keeping those which I know I have/will reread and giving the rest away.

Jan 17, 2008, 1:18pm

I'm a big believer of releasing books I will not read again. I give them away or sell them back to the used book store. The ones I keep, I keep for the following reasons:

1. I might reread.
2. It was signed by the author.
3. It was a gift.
4. They smell good.
5. Since I'm a snooper into other people's libraries, I want a representative sample of what I read so that if any book lover visits my house, we can start a conversation about books. (This is how my LT library functions, too, actually.)

Otherwise, I'm all for sharing the love.

Jan 17, 2008, 1:19pm

Mostly I don't keep books I am never going to read again.

(There are some exceptions - I have a full set of Robin McKinley's books, including one novel and half a dozen children's books that I may never read again, but the point was to have a full set of my favorite author's books.)

I am planning to do what AlannaSmithee did, and get rid of all the (other) books that I know I will never read/read again, because they are wasting space that should be taken up by books I actually like.

16 Kageeh - You're right; people ask questions because they don't understand. But the idea that all "true book lovers" have to treat their books the exact same way is silly.

Jan 17, 2008, 1:26pm

I only get rid of duplicates and not all of them...

Jan 17, 2008, 1:28pm

I guess I don't love books since I use sites like BookMooch and PaperBackSwap to recycle books I'll never reread. Thanks internet, for showing me my true self!

Jan 17, 2008, 1:29pm

It is silly to expect everyone who loves books to act the same way. That would be pretty boring.

I only tend to get rid of books that I genuinely didn't like, because, for the most part, I assume that if I liked them, I'll be reading them again at some point. I can think of a couple of exceptions, but those fall into the 'having a complete set from an author I admire' category. Otherwise, I just keep what I have. It's always a wrench to part with books unless I *really* hated them.

Jan 17, 2008, 1:41pm

I said it before, I'll say it again - a house without a book is like a body without a brain, or a heart.


Why NOT keep them?! ;-)

Jan 17, 2008, 1:46pm

>23 Busifer:

I have about 1100 books in my home. At this point, we can't afford to continually buy bookshelves. And if we could, there is no place to put them. Our house doesn't even have linen or broom closets, so storage space is limited for everything, not just books. Even with using the swap sites, I am still bringing in more books than I am sending out. So it's either keep recycling books I am not going to reread or make my son sleep outside and use his room as a library. ;)

Jan 17, 2008, 1:52pm

I am with you fleela, I have run out, or nearly run out, of space for books. I am hoping to be chosen to move into a new house built by the low and moderate income people who will live in them. If I am chosen, it'll mean storing my books for a year or so and then trying to fit them into an even smaller space. But, you know what, I have to live somewhere reasonable for a person of my age and circumstances. I will not live in a falling down house with deferred maintenance eating up my food budget merely in order to keep a certain number of running feet of books on shelves. What I can, I will keep. What I can't, I'll release respectfully to used book stores or thrift shops.

Jan 17, 2008, 2:03pm

When we run out of space for books, we will get a bigger house.

I MUST have my books.


Because I said so!

Honestly, I don't have a reason I can verbalize. They are mine and I'm keeping them, even if I don't plan on reading them again. I'm a book collector.

Jan 17, 2008, 2:08pm

I reread things all the time, but I never know what I'm going to reread until the mood strikes. There are the favorites that I always go back to, but who's to say I won't someday want to read something from ninth grade again? Plus, there are some books that I've sold to used bookstores, and have later wished I still had. So I tend to hang onto them as long as possible.

Jan 17, 2008, 2:40pm

Buy a bigger house. Yup, that's the ticket. But I have spent large part of my life reading, not amassing large quantities of U.S. dollars. A 900-1200 sq ft house in Seattle can now cost $500,000. Not in my price range any longer.

Jan 17, 2008, 3:05pm

I remember setting up the bookcase in my bedroom in this apartment and immediately feeling a sense of belonging that hadn't existed before. Books are comforting, to me. Fun to look at, handle, contemplate. I'd say the main reasons to keep a book are:

1. You might re-read them.
2. They have some aesthetic value to you.
3. They represent your reading history, giving guests a better understanding of you (kind of how many people think of tattoos--living memories).
4. You enjoyed them enough to lend them out to others (or possibly leave them for children to inherit), kind of like your own personal endorsement.
5. You want to read them someday (for those with piles of TBR books).

That said, if you've read the book and don't like it enough to re-read or lend it, it's probably best to get rid of it. I could probably use some purging in my library.

Jan 17, 2008, 3:14pm

Why keep 'em? Um . . . . just in case .

That's my reason, anyway.

Jan 17, 2008, 3:19pm

Cause they make me look smart.

Edited: Jan 17, 2008, 3:31pm

Flee, Maggie; I know. I'm in doubt myself, at least as to the books I know I'm never going to read. But I think I'm going to fit another couple of hundred in. 1027 books as of today, in a 1076 sq. foot flat inhabited by 3 plus cat. We have plenty of wall pace left, if only my husband give in and accept life as is ;-)

Edited: Jan 17, 2008, 3:46pm

Books = Knowledge = Power.

I keep my books around me so that one day (One! Day!) I will rule the world ;-)

Actually I think I'm more attached to my books than most other things I own (aside from the computer, perhaps... I wouldn't like to give up the internet)... I'm not sure why that is, but I wouldn't like to be parted from them.

I can't give you a good reason not to sell them, if you really want to part with them, but will you miss them when they're gone?


Jan 17, 2008, 5:19pm

#5 Don't mention Hummels!

Geez my Mom collected those ugly things. Her house has about 2-3 dozen!

Jan 17, 2008, 5:19pm

I tend to think of my books, CDs, DVDs, and other belongings as a type of personal archive that I can use to get in touch with various aspects of my life. When I've parted with them, I eventually regret it. For example, I left some childhood books behind at my parents' home that were eventually discarded. I had all but forgotten about them until joining LT and seeing mention of them, and now I'd like to re-read them. The same thing has happened many times with CDs that I've sold - I've even repurchased a few.

Edited: Jan 17, 2008, 5:22pm

My Mom also collected these, that are still up at her house. They get progressively uglier by the year... you'll note the plates are not shown in order on this photo. Jeez, that would have taken a few seconds of effort on someone's part...

Jan 17, 2008, 5:24pm

She also has collected these since 1965. Also a similar pattern that has a border on the edge of the plate.

I can't stand any of them. They are all over her house, eating up every wall. ;)

No, I do not have any lingering childhood issues over the constant collecting. None at all. Nope. ;)

Jan 17, 2008, 5:40pm

Hopefully, you no longer live in this house with the blue plates on every wall.

Jan 17, 2008, 5:55pm

We keeps books because they are precious. They are MIIIIIIINE!!!!!!

Actually, I can't really define the standard, but I only keep books which live up to that standard. Maybe it's this. Whether or not I will read it again, would I want to? If the answer is yes, I keep it. I love to share my books and hopefully hook others into reading. I also have a lot of history reference books, because someday I want to know everything. My books make my soul feel at rest. I walk into my house, and the first thing I see is books. Makes me happy. All the possibilities within. Oh, and they are so much easier to dust than stupid figurines. :)

Jan 17, 2008, 6:04pm

I used to be very much of the school of "keep it forever" but when I finished grad school and moved across the country for the third (and hopefully final) time, our household did a huge purge of books. Mostly academic books that won't be re-read again or read ever by the other members of the household. For me, it was amazingly refreshing - I felt like I was finally admitting something major to myself. Like it was ok not to have or read certain books just because they were "important to the field." Like it was ok to read for fun all of the sudden. Obviously I have a very complicated relationship with books.

I still own upwards of 600 books and our household owns more than that, but I've come to the realization that my storage and my wallet cannot possibly hold onto everything. And let's face it, we all read books that are not worth re-reading, even if they are well-written and enjoyable. Since I tend to read a fair amount of "social commentary" type books, I feel like I tend to encounter more and more of these books. I keep the things that are really meaningful to me, things by my favorite authors, books that I collect (Edward Gorey illustrations, art books, hard to find literature from the middle east), books that I might refer to in the future, and books that are going to be hard to get from a library or store again. If I think a book is going to take a long time to read or I want a specific edition of the work, I will buy it. But right now I am really content to check things out of the library or exchange books with friends or family members.

Jan 17, 2008, 6:36pm

#39, MrsLee, I love that line "My books make my soul feel at rest." That sums it up perfectly! I find myself sometimes just gazing at my books, it disconcerts my husband at times, but now you've given me the words to explain it to him :-D

With us moving around the country my books have always been the first thing I've unpacked and organized and then I've felt like the house is becoming home.

Jan 17, 2008, 6:57pm

My books are emotional landmarks for certain periods in my life. I may not "need" all of the 700 or more books in this house, but I keep them in large part because they represent a map of my mind and my interests over 50-some-odd years. There are the books by Louisa May Alcott from my childhood, the Jane Austen I read while confined to bed during a pregnancy, my copy of Katherine Anne Brigg's Encyclopedia that we used for a son's English project during elementary school. Some people have scrapbooks, I have reading books.

Besides, I am deeply suspicious of the idea that electronic books will change the ways in which I use and share books on the basis of contract law, licensing and DRM. They'll have to pry the print from my cold dead hands.

Jan 17, 2008, 6:57pm

- For the sake of it

- For lending (I'm my friends' library - I control their access to information. Bwahahaha!)

- For rereading - There are a large bunch that I reread every year, especially series.

- For the spirit - I love the feeling of being in a room of books

- For reference - I like to be able to go back to a book and look up that quote I like, reread that warm fuzzy bit when I'm feeling neither warm nor fuzzy, and to look up all my dictionaries.

- For love of books - I'm a consumer, and a little materialistic.

Jan 17, 2008, 8:44pm

I keep books not only for reading and looking at, but if I become famous from my writing and I get old and die, people then are going to be puzzling over my library's contents. The fact that I have One Piece manga volumes next to Nineteen-Eighty Four and Fahrenheit 451 will undoubtedly confuse people researching my reading habits in the future, and my kids will be probably be really comforted to know that my collection of horror literature was small.

Jan 17, 2008, 8:44pm

I can't seem to part with any of them. We moved about 5 years ago, and I foolishly got rid of some books during the move. I've regretted it ever since.

I don't know why I keep them. Books define me. Look at my books, and you'll know me. It makes me happy to see them, even if I won't read them again. I cannot imagine my home without books tucked into every corner. One day, when my boys are gone and I have more room, I hope to have a library of my own. Oddly enough, no one in my family reads but me, so when I am gone, my library will probably go too. Maybe, just maybe, one day I'll have a grandchild who loves books like I do.

Jan 17, 2008, 8:45pm

Exactly. Books for the future! By keeping our books we preserve the history of our times!

Jan 17, 2008, 9:04pm

..I think when I die one day, I want to be cremated with my books and pressed into a diamond... then nobody can "pry the print from my cold dead hands" ;)

Jan 17, 2008, 9:24pm

Books are a connection. Like hand-written letters. You touch the paper, and you know I touched it too. You read the words, and you know I read the exact same words. You interpret the ideas, and get a sense of my thought processes too. The heft of the book in your hand, the feel of the paper, the smell of the glue.

I feel connected to the former owners of my old books in a way that is almost primal. I use email, and cell phones, and any other technology my elderly mind can fathom, but I prefer more concrete connections. Words on a screen that come from nowhere I understand, and disappear to somewhere else unknowable can't replace a good book I can hold. I guess I'm hopelessly last century.

Jan 17, 2008, 9:25pm

I keep books that fit any of the following criteria:

1. I'll read it at least once more. I intend to reread absolutely every piece of fiction listed in my LibraryThing account.
2. I'll refer to it again. I know I probably won't reread most of my reference books from cover to cover, but I'll look things up in them or share them with others.
3. It's by Agatha Christie, Edgar Rice Burroughs or Mercedes Lackey, my three completist authors. Not all their books are all that worthwhile, in my opinion, but I'll keep 'em around for one more read anyways.
4. It's very old and/or pretty.

If it doesn't fit into any of those categories, I pass it along. I'd much rather see the books I wasn't over the moon about go to someone who'll actually enjoy them than just moulder on my shelves, taking up valuable space that could go to something more worthwhile.

Jan 18, 2008, 5:26am

Some very good reasons have been given. I'm keeping my books until they have to go because I have no more room for them.

I like perusing the libraries of people I don't know well. It's a shortcut to understanding their interests and desires, a glimpse at their personality and a snapshot of their life.

Jan 18, 2008, 11:43am

I think most of my reasons for keeping books have already been mentioned.

1. I'll never know which ones I'll want to reread (even to see whether I still dislike it)
2. Being able to reference all sorts of things
3. To be able to lend to others (& not worry about those that pass on)
4. As a record of who I am & have been
5. For other sentimental reasons eg a memory of a feeling
6. For aesthetic reasons - the look, the smell, the feel
7. As part of a collection

And basically because having books is part of who I am.
I am also one of those people who unpacks books first even though we dont have space for them all or enough money for more bookshelves right now...
all that said I have given books away, some to friends and some to charity shops just not very many.

Jan 18, 2008, 11:46am

What else would I put on my bookshelves?

Jan 18, 2008, 11:55am

ugly plates, or weird figurines :)

Jan 18, 2008, 12:01pm

Once, years ago, my fiance (now husband) said something like, "We're going to have to get rid of some of these books." I looked at him aghast, as if he'd just suggested that I give away the dog or my toes or family pictures. I don't remember what I said, but he hasn't mentioned it since and now supports and encourages the act of acquiring books for me. *happy sigh*

I only give away books that I think are stupid, e.g., in a fit of desperation I picked up some flimsy legal thriller in a grocery store.

Jan 18, 2008, 2:13pm

I am not saying everyone has to keep all their books; certainly, book lovers are free to dispose of whatever they want to or must because of space concerns. My overly enthusiastic reply was meant more to poke fun at the question itself which really doesn't need an answer. Even if you are one who disposes of your books as soon as you read them, surely you can understand why many people do not.

Jan 18, 2008, 2:21pm

#37 -- I have a friend who collects Wedgwood jasperware, mostly the white with blue. EVERYTHING in her house is either genuine Wedgwood or in Wedgwood blue and white, even her washer and dryer! All the items are beautifully arranged on her walls and in cabinets; it's even better than walking into a Wedgwood pottery factory. I met her when I was going through a 3-month addiction to Wedgwood and eBay (I blame the Prednisone I was taking then) and I have the results to show for it. I collected only the dinnerwear that I've wanted since I was a child and some display items that were personally meaningful but now I wonder what was going through my head then. I could live happily without any of it.

Jan 18, 2008, 4:17pm

>47 J_ipsen: Wow - I think that just added a whole new dimension to my funeral plans.

Jan 18, 2008, 4:32pm

Message 23: Busifer
My shelves are full of books. I get rid of most of the books I have read, but my TBR pile is ever growing.

The books I keep are
1.) Important/relevant books in my feild
2.) My TBR pile (of course)
3.) Books signed by the author
4.) Books with special value to me... memories and whatnot

Jan 18, 2008, 4:59pm

#58 - It was meant as a tease ;-)
Seriously, I'm with MrsLee and Katylit - looking at my shelves are soothing, it's good for my soul, it makes me feel well. I can sit and just look at my main fiction bookshelf...
Books are beautiful, like a map, full of memories of experiences past and coming, an adventure... :-)

Jan 18, 2008, 6:50pm

Ooo, lots of good responses.

So I definitely agree with those who say books put their soul at rest. I also just sit and stare at my books sometimes, thinking about how I felt when I read that one, how much I like the cover of this next to that, what I was doing the first time I read the one over there. Husband has stopped asking what I'm staring at by now; he's gotten used to me.

I reread constantly as well. Rereading is like visiting an old friend. There is comfort in the fact that the story hasn't changed. And I love remembering where you were or what was happening in life during previous reads of a book.

I'll pass on a book I didn't like. I just evicted a few books that I liked when I was in high school and I now look at and can't believe I actually bought. There are books I own that I probably won't reread ... but I might, so they'll stay.

Jan 19, 2008, 4:40am


Exactly! I have an irrational dislike of ornaments, and shelves overflowing with books keep them at bay.

Jan 19, 2008, 9:56pm

I used to only buy books and keep them forever. I've become a lot more minimalist over the years and am slowly but surely getting rid of the books I'll never read again or ones that I bought at one point but will never end up reading (lack of interest in the topic, etc.)

I have access to two great library systems (I'm 2 minutes from the main library in the city I work in and about 5 minutes from the library in the city I live in) and between the two, they have most of the books on my wishlist. And if they don't, there is the beauty of inter-library loan.

I love books and love to be around them, but I've come to view them as a potential waste of money. I used to buy a LOT of books at one time and then not even read most of them. Also, once I started using the library, my book count for the year skyrocketed. I guess I read faster when I know there is a deadline. :) I also read a lot of stuff I wouldn't have read otherwise because I didn't feel like was maybe going to be worth the money.

The other reason I've become a minimalist is simply because our house is very small and we have limited storage space as it is. The entire house is 840 square feet and really the only other place besides my one bookshelf is the attic -- and I don't see the point of having books I can't readily access.

At this point, I buy books that:

- I fell absolutely in love with and I know I'll read again and again.
- I want for reference -- "The God Delusion" was the most recent purchase for that purpose
- that helped me through a difficult time
- and sometimes I will buy/keep books that I might not read again and again but I feel give people a glimpse into my personality -- like the others have said.

I've heard before the argument that people who don't buy books obsessively aren't "true" book lovers. Kind of reminds me of the argument that people who don't go to church aren't "true" Christians. To me, it's what's in my heart that matters... and I absolutely love books.

I think LT also played a part in the fact that I no longer feel bad about getting rid of books I probably won't read again -- but they still exist in my online library.

Jan 20, 2008, 1:48am

I agree with your theory that you can buy books non-obsessively/borrow books from the library and still be a true book lover. One of the reasons I buy and keep books is because as a writer I need to keep track of what I read in my youth and retain a compiled history of my reading and influences. But I do use the library to read books that I cannot afford to buy in a lean month.

Another reason why I keep books is because I know I'm going to need them in the future and I will regret it if I get rid of my classic children's books.

There's no shame in borrowing from the library, as long as you give the books back...

Jan 20, 2008, 2:45pm

Poet and culture critic George Santayana used to tear the signatures out of his books as soon as he had finished reading them. Once he was done with a book, all that was left was the cover, which then joined the contents in the wastebasket. (This was in the days before recycling.)

That's certainly efficient; and it probably provides a certain amount of visceral satisfaction as well. But it lacks nuance, in my opinion.

I prefer a different fate for each book, depending on its qualities. A superb flight of imagination, like Leo Perutz's By Night Under the Stone Bridge, should be put in a little boat and given a viking funeral on the lake of a neighborhood park -- so its soul could become one with the sky.

A book on the other end of the spectrum, such as The Defense by D.W. Buffa, should be flogged through the streets of town, drawn and quartered, scattered on the public dump and covered with salt so that it can never propogate itself.

Jan 20, 2008, 7:23pm

#36 & #37 - PeaBee, how'd you turn out so norma....

Never mind.


Edited: Jan 20, 2008, 7:36pm

Well, we keep them so we can enter them into LT, of course.

Many of my books we've accumulated to read in the future. I always want to be able to peruse the shelves and find a book I'm in the mood for, and, being a man of many fairly indiscriminate moods, that requires a lot of books. And I may have read them, but that means I just need to push my wife, daughters or son to read them. Or my friends. After I've read a good book, I'm a missionary.

A big, big reason for keeping them is to pass them on - I want to lure my kids into this wonderful thing called reading, to have them always know they can go to the shelves and find a way to occupy their time. And I want their friends to come to our house to find books when they have a project.

And, of course, I just feel good around them. A house with bookshelves is a much warmer place. Put me with the soul-soothing crowd.

Finally, I want to be able to go on and on about an author, half-raving and madly pulling books from the shelves. It's who I am.

Jan 20, 2008, 7:40pm

Fleela mentioned having her son sleep outside and using his room as a library if she bought more books.

Well... We built this house before we had kids, and put in a small library with built in bookshelves, and two big bedrooms, figuring however many kids we had, there would be a girls room and a boys room.

As soon as my oldest got to reading age, she just moved her bed out of what became her sisters room and into the library...

There's no closet, but that's not important.

Jan 21, 2008, 10:42am

I plan to convert my sons' shared room into a library area as soon as the last one graduates from college and finds a job. He has suggested that he'll likely move home for a year immediately following college in order to save money before leaving, but I have dreams that he'll have definitely cleared out by my retirement sometime in 2015 or thereabouts.

Edited: Jan 21, 2008, 12:16pm

My books are projections of myself. When I see a familiar book in a second-hand bookshop, I have to struggle not to buy it again! It's hard to get rid of a book, because of that sneaking suspicion that somehow, if you don't have a copy, the book itself will cease to exist. And who knows when that old book might not come in handy (along with the empty margarine tubs in the kitchen and the bits of old bicycle in the garage).

We are just hoping that TinyBookworm doesn't mind growing up in a room full of his parents' books...

Jan 21, 2008, 12:49pm

This is the reason that I made sure my husband and I were on the same page where books were concerned before we even came close to getting serious. In my questions in dating, more important than "Do you want children?", or "What are your beliefs about the afterlife?", was the question, "What is the most important room in a house, if you were building a house what would rooms would you make sure were there?" Then, if the answer was not a library, send him packing! OK, so I exagerated (I can't for the life of me seem to spell this word today) that a bit, but it was one of the first things that we found out about eachother: a passion for the reading and collection of books, and the dream of one day having a huge library in our home, with thousands of volumes. And yes, we do have a library. All four of the children sleep in one large room, their toys and books in another room, and the rest of the books get their own room (which they only have to share with the computer).

As for the original topic, I suppose there is no real logical reason to keep books that you will not be read again, but who ever said that book addicts were logical?

I myself do reread. Maybe I will never read all of the books that are on my shelf, but I am only 28, and how can I say that in the next 70 (wishfully) years of life that I won't. Also, my children are just starting into the wonderful adventure of the printed word, and I don't know which of my books they will have an interest in.

But mostly, I just love books, and have a passion to surround myself with as many as possible. It makes me feel happy to look around at the neatly lined up spines.

Besides, what if 'the world as we know it' comes to an end, and we are left without connections and contacts to the world around us. What if the local library is destroyed, then I will be coverd, and can lend out books to the bored and entertainment starved masses. ; )

Jan 26, 2008, 5:24am

Nearly as bad as the 'got rid of & now regret it' thing is the 'borrowed/loved & returned book that friend/relative got sick of & tossed without offering to you' thing. Especially when the darn thing is out of print!

Jan 26, 2008, 6:42am

Can I digress just a bit into, how do you persuade a non-book partner that every room should have bookshelves instead of walls? I have had to become utterly ruthless in the past few years and give away or sell (can't bring myself to throw a book away) any book I'm not going to reread. For some strange reason my husband thinks there should be room for him in the house too. However, it's not that much of a help as I am now down to 2,000 and something books, all of which I plan to reread and many of which I plan to re-reread. I guess practicalities have to come into it at some point.
#70 Excellent point about wanting to pass them on to your children. I consider my books to be the best part of my legacy!

Jan 26, 2008, 6:47am

>71 Lyz:
The first book I bought with my own money was The Beatles by Hunter Davies. My mother threw it away, without telling me, because it had a rude word in it. Fortunately I'm the forgiving kind.

Jan 26, 2008, 6:50am

cause i really really loves 'em

Jan 26, 2008, 7:12am

I have always wanted books, as many as I can afford really. I just need them.
I give books away to people i know will take good care of them, but I will never sell (unless I absolutely have to) or throw any away. So they just keep piling up, and I have to buy more bookshelves.

And a little book joke

1st: What are we going to buy for Peter this year?
2nd: A book perhaps?
1st: Nah, he have one already.

Jan 26, 2008, 10:40am

I agree with several of the reasons listed here, but I'm with MrsLee who put it perfectly. "My books make my soul feel at rest."

Jan 26, 2008, 10:48am

I can't get rid of my books, I need them. Books represent parts of my life that are gone now. They are my friends when I just can't seem to make the world around me make sense.

I find comfort in their well worn pages.

Jan 26, 2008, 9:33pm

mess #2

And they can hold a mirror up to my face and let me see what I am afraid to look at. (Tough Love)

They are friends that don't interrupt me when I'm thinking (talking) , but they never say a cross word when I interrupt them.

And when my children grow ( someday) and I am gone, they can read what I read and know me a little better. They are the links in our chain of generations.

Edited: Jan 26, 2008, 9:34pm

I like having a big library full of all kinds of interesting stuff so I can show it off. (-;

edit for bad spelling

Jan 26, 2008, 9:38pm

#1: Why keep 'em? Because we lovesss them, precioussss!

Edited: Jan 30, 2008, 10:01am

Why not keep 'em? Because they are a fire hazard!
And they take up too much room
and they get dusty
and moldy

Jan 30, 2008, 10:03am

Sentimentality and wishful thinking mostly. In the cold light of reason and actuality though, I should not have as many books as I do. I feel a purge coming on. After the last one I felt better. Lighter. More focused. Distilled.

Jan 30, 2008, 11:02am

Booksloth - On convincing a spouse to keep the overwhelming library - Do you have kids? Having books for them to read can really give them a leg up in school, and get them excited about learning. What spouse wouldn't do it for the kids?

Also, we've found the neighborhood kids all come to our house when they have reports due - we serve as a mini-library (I haven't catalogued most of the 2,000+ kids books we have). That's a big deal for us - we like to be in the middle of their lives, and having everyone over here really helps that.

Jan 31, 2008, 2:27am

Do we keep our books, or do they keep us?

>#64: A work of art. I applaud you, jburlinson. At midnight tonight you shall find me at the crossroads with a stake and a copy of Twilight.

Although, I wonder if perhaps Mr Santayana simply lacked a good bookmark.

Jan 31, 2008, 2:51pm

#83 A coupla problems there. Firstly, the kids grew up and left home several years ago now. I think when they left, my other half nursed a fond belief that they might take some of the books with them. Instead, they just bought more of their own which I had to borrow, so that filled the house even fuller.
Secondly, when they were small I also thought I could convince him that the books were there for the kids. It was when the eldest hit 5 years old and I found myself having to make a good case for Lady Chatterley that I realised I hadn't fully thought it through.
and #64 That's pure genius! IF I could bear to let any go that's exactly what I would do with them.

Apr 12, 2008, 3:15pm

I finally plucked up courage and pulled out a stack of books from my library that I know I will never read again. I'm giving them to a charity.

It was tougher to do that I expected. After an hour I went back to the pile and retrieved two books that I decided I should re-read after all. I have been doing that all afternoon.

Apr 12, 2008, 4:11pm

Give them to charity, sell them at a used book store, or list them on and then get more books. I really like listing the books I know I won't reread on Bookmooch. It is a lot of fun to see where they go.

Now, to answer the why do I keep my books question. I keep the books I KNOW I will reread and I want to have them handy. If I find that I am constantly searching the library and bookstores for a certain title after getting rid of it, I'll add it to my permanant library. If I keep a book and then have NO INTEREST in rereading it, then I will take it out to make room for one I will reread. It is all about balance.

Apr 12, 2008, 4:58pm

I knew I was doomed when I agreed to sell a load of books at a boot sale and secretly bought them all myself and sneaked them back into the house...

Apr 12, 2008, 6:18pm

Because I like them. And spent a lot of time hunting some of them down. And I like looking at them and keeping a list of them. And rereading some of them. And knowing I have a complete set.

I have a habit of reading one thing by somebody, then collecting all of the works by that somebody, but not actually reading them, but I keep thinking "I will read all of my John Brunner books one day" or "I will read those 4 Blish books I had to buy from America", or "I will read those Mccaffrey romances that look totally boring, just beause she is one of my favorite authors". Most of them are for one day when I feel like reading them, I also like to be able to start 5 or 6 books before settling on the one I will read.

I suppose when I have read all my books I will get rid of those that turned into a dissapointment, but by then I'll have more.

Apr 13, 2008, 9:25am

I don't get rid of my books because I always need them for referencing quotes and relevant sayings. Also I never buy books that are rubbish.

Apr 13, 2008, 11:01pm

I can't get rid of any of the books I have. I've tried. I've always regretted it. So, I stopped. (I have a non-reading husband who is very understanding, thankfully!)

I'm in the process of taking over my college son's bedroom. Bookshelves are definitely involved as soon as I can scrape up a little money to go to Ikea. I think when I get them, I will try to organize my books in some sort of order because I have them all over the house and can never find the one I'm looking for. This leads to a question . . .

My husband has a degree in educational technology (among others), which is the degree that media specialists usually get in my state. (Funny that he's a non-reader but took classes in cataloging and book collections.) One of the suggestions he heard for organizing books is to number them, then shelve them numerically. He says this is easier than subject/genre arranging since it makes it very easy to add books. I would then know where certain number ranges are located around the house. I guess I could add those numbers to my LT information somewhere. (I wouldn't consider doing it if I couldn't do that.) Any thoughts???

Apr 14, 2008, 6:02am

The part of me that likes organising and reorganising my books into subject groupings is horrified by your husband's suggestion hobbitprincess - its just undignified - but actually practically it makes a lot of sense. It is also effectively what I did the first time I catalogued by books. I simply wrote number, author and title in my notebook starting on shelf A and working round the room but then I was nine, I only wanted to know what I had and where it was. It worked very well- until I got a new bookcase and reorganised eveything.

Apr 14, 2008, 8:06am

#91 - The private comments field for each book in your catalog would be the perfect place to put a number and other info like shelf location. Certainly, that would be easier than trying to figure out what to classify books.

Apr 14, 2008, 8:18am

I am a get rid of them kind of girl. There are too many new books out there to re-read. I have about a dozen that I love but the rest get sent to fellow LTers, the used bookstore or are donated to the library for their used book sale.

Apr 14, 2008, 9:31am

Just the other day my husband mentioned that books are very comforting. Stick me in with the soul-soothers crowd. :)
I like to reread books, I lend them to friends, I just like to have them. I really only get rid of duplicates or truly badly written works. I also like going through them, perhaps reorganizing a bit, seeing what I have. Entering the collection into the LT is very relaxing for me. Also, since my husband and I merged our libraries, I found a lot of books in his collection that I have not read.
I also hope that my future child(ren) will read them.

Edited: Apr 15, 2008, 10:28am

I get rid of books I don't like or am fairly sure I will not be re-reading. I have over 1200 books in my house on average. I am surrounded by them & have a wide range of options to chose from when I want to read. But there is no more space for bookshelves. The house is full. There are now 2 small people living here that did not exist when we bought the place and they are entitled to space to build their own libraries, just as they are entitled to closet space and time on the computer (which are also painful for me to share). There is just no space to store books I didn't care for that much or that I am fairly certain I will never look at again. Sure, someday one of my sons might want to read Lord Fouls' Bane but they can borrow it from the library if they do & if they love it, they can buy a copy for themselves. The space just doesn't exist for me to keep anything, not just books, on 'well, maybe this will happen & it might be needed' basis.

I purge my library every year or so, whenever I realize I am continually having issues finding space for the books I have bought. I get many of my books from the library these days so I don't need to purge much. The books that are here are 90% my favorites, my rereads, my reference & the books that I loved as a child; It's that other 10% that needs to be removed every so often. Many of the hardback books I have purged are currently sitting on the library shelves, so I haven't lost them forever.

Apr 14, 2008, 12:02pm

#91 I am NOT a number! I AM A BOOK! (Sorry 'bout the shouting.)

Apr 14, 2008, 4:21pm

I admire those of you who are able to get rid of books. I certainly cannot. I even have all my old college textbooks - I could never get myself to sell them back to the college bookstore, so I have stuff like Biology and Chemistry big-honking-books laying around that I know I'll never look at again, but I just can't part with them.

Apr 14, 2008, 4:26pm

I got rid of most of my textbooks two years ago, at the urging of a friend who was helping me organize my apartment. Though I rarely referred to them, I find myself pining for them from time to time.

Apr 14, 2008, 5:26pm

Msg 91 - You may have read this from me before but I loved LT from the start because it gave me, in most cases, a Lib of Congress # for each book. I shelve them according to that # (except for fiction) and that automatically puts the various subjects pretty much together. I order my fiction in one bookcase by author. I like this system pretty much all the time. A new book fits on the shelves because I have left space for new additions all throughout the collection.

This also provides me an easy way to search for a book. I just Search in My Library and it tells me which books are around the one I am seeking and that usually leads me right to it.

Apr 14, 2008, 6:43pm

I retired last year and am working towards moving to a three-room garret. LT has made it possible for me to see what I have, download it to a spreadsheet, and then decide which rows to hide and which to show to the local used bookstore. I find, however, that selling books is so painful that I divest myself of only those books which I know are in the local library.

There are certain books from my childhood which, when read through more mature eyes, are quite surprising. My favorite stories turned out to be racist or anti-German or anti-Japanese. At a time when my books were packed away I tried to find some of my old friends in the library. They were long gone, the libraries having only so much room themselves; and the older the book, the less likely one is to find it. Had I not had the books myself, I'd never have found out the truth about them (but I'm keeping them, nonetheless).

And about the books I can't bear to lose? When I move I'll rent a climate-controlled storage area and set up bookshelves in it.