Keep On Keepin’ On

Yesterday, I tried to clean my massively overcrowded apartment. My husband and I just bought a house (which needs loads of renovation, grumble, finances, grumble, rice and beans, grumble), and will be moving in a few months. Meanwhile, my housecleaning skills, never stellar, fell to record lows.

Until even I couldn’t stand it. There was clutter everywhere: papers, books, notebooks, CDs, magazines, more books, FIVE PAIRS OF MY HUSBAND’S SHOES IN THE LIVING ROOM, a few more books, some bookmarks, toys, and more magazines. And a few books.

Never one to shy away from an onerous task, I started going through my books. My father-in-law built me my own bookshelf, ‘specially designed for double-stacked paperbacks (and it comes apart for easy moving!), but I have SO many books they had spilled out onto the floor.

So I got rid of some. Some I had never read, and realized I never would read. Some I had read, and liked, and wanted, but the space issue overcame the acquisitive issue, so they were gone. I found one I had bought twice, so that went. That was an easy one.

I was not able to get rid of books by some good writing friends, even though I will never read those books again–something superstitious (appropriate for today, actually) reared its head in me and made me put them back on the shelves.

My keeper collection is, as keeper collections go, fairly small; my keeper authors include Amanda Quick, Loretta Chase, Mary Balogh, Eloisa James, J.R. Ward and Georgette Heyer; non-romance keeper authors include Barbara Hambly, Lee Child, Ross McDonald, Bernard Cornwell, Dashiell Hammett, Raymond Chandler, Charles Willeford, and Neal Stephenson (the husband counts John Hawkes and Thomas Pynchon among his).

How do you decide what to keep and what to toss? When you toss, where do you put them? Do you have any keeper authors that are outside of your usual reading taste?

PS: Clive is just here to get you to read the boring bits.

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15 years ago

I always keep my books. So, that would mean, I have a lot around me. 🙂 But I have gotten rid of the few here and there (novels, not science ones) that I just really didn’t like for whatever reason. I figured I’d let someone else try them, they might like them. 🙂


Cara King
15 years ago

I’m just a keeper…by nature and by habit.

I like to pet my books. I like to smell them. I like to have them on hand, so if I get a whim, or want to settle an argument, my favorite books are always right there.

Then again, I don’t live in New York. If I lived in New York (or London, or San Francisco), I’m sure my habits would have to change…

As it is, my place is always a dreadful mess. Too much stuff, too little room. 🙂


15 years ago

Last year we did a massive renovation of our house (when I get to 100 I expect I’ll need a massive renovation too), and one of the side benefits was supposed to be enough space to fit all my books. Alas, since we didn’t actually add on to the house, there are still boxes and boxes of books and not nearly enough bookshelf space. I’ve tried to cull the collection through donations to the library, but then I go out, as I did today, and buy more books (ironically, from the used book collection at the library). I suppose if I’m not killed when one of the towers of books falls on my head, I can justify my habit by saying that collecting books is easier on the pocketbook than significant jewelry or sports cars.

Tracy Grant
15 years ago

esyfgFor me it’s not a questiion of which books to keep but of which to give away. I grew up with the idea that books were meant to be kept (which I inherited from both my parents, I also inherited all their books :-). Like Cara, i like to be surrounded by books. Rooms without bookshelves look rather cold to me (my house, which I also inherited from my parents, has floor to ceiling bookshelves flanking the livign room fireplace). I like to be able to pick up favorites and reread passages when the mood strikes (I did that today with Barbara Hamby’s THe Silicon Mage). That said, I have (of necessity) started to cull my collection occasionally. If it’s something I really don’t think I’ll read again (or even browse through)/. But it’s still hard. And I have got rid of books and then regretted it.

Elena Greene
15 years ago

We have at least one bookshelf in every room except the bathrooms (though you can find an odd book or two in there as well!) We still have to prune now and then.

I can fairly easily get rid of books I’m not crazy about but I keep all books that I love. Even though I’m having less and less time to reread I still figure I’ll lend them to friends or my children when they’re old enough.

15 years ago

Megan wrote:

How do you decide what to keep and what to toss?

That is easy! I always decide to keep it! 🙂

Well, not quite. But even books that I know perfectly well that I will never read often stay for years before I can finally bring myself to cull them.

Books that I am unlikely to reread, but that I can’t bear to part with, I pack up in boxes and put in storage. And I know: what good do they do me there? But one day I will own a mansion with a vast library (hah!) and then I will take them all out, and arrange them artistically on shelves, and forget about them.


15 years ago

Elena wrote:

We have at least one bookshelf in every room except the bathrooms (though you can find an odd book or two in there as well!)

Us, too! And in the corridors. 🙂 Though there are only a small number of books in the kitchen–cookbooks, oddly enough…


15 years ago

Totally off-topic of book storage but connected to the photo of Clive Owen: I read in the paper yesterday that they are filming a sequel to “Elizabeth” (the one with Cate Blanchett and Geoffrey Rush), and Clive Owen is to play Sir Walter Raleigh. Definitely inspired casting.

Megan Frampton
15 years ago

So basically, you guys all keep your books, and I’m lame ’cause I don’t have any space. Le sigh.

Susan/dc: I heard that news, and saw some pix. He looks awesome in that doublet-y thing.

15 years ago

I keep many of the books I get but for those I don’t want, I take them to my UBS or the local library.

Having said that, I give away everything else to a local thrift shop on a regular basis. I can’t stand clutter.

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