I’ve been in a purging mood lately. I’ve always been a big believer that an uncluttered space leads to an uncluttered mind. When things start to pile up in my house, I grow edgy. That’s when I feel the tickle of little hands at the back of my neck. Whose hands? Well, the purging elves, of course. The little demons who tell me, “Clean up, for God’s sake, woman. We’re drowning in old books and paperwork. Throw something out!” When the purging elves dig their nails into my skin, nothing is sacred.
Lately I’ve been eyeing my book collection, thinking it’s time for a cull.
Yes, I hear you, fellow book hoarders. I feel your pain but now I ask you to feel mine. I store my old books in the basement on a few very large, cluttered shelves. That’s prime real estate in my house. I could renovate that area and make a comfy nook. Or I could start exercising and install some gym equipment there. (Yeah, that’s totally going to happen.)
But discard my books? After all, you don’t throw a book away, right? You might read it again.
Or will you?
You see, every time I stock my basement bookshelves, I say to myself, “This one’s a keeper. I’ll read it at least one more time.” Honestly, I rarely do. I can count on one hand the number of books I’ve actually reread and those ones have a place of honor in my collection. The others? They were fun, but their time has come and gone. They weren’t bad books. They simply served their purpose. I absorbed their messages and don’t need to revisit them.
I’m always shocked and humbled when a reader tells me she reread one of my books. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not insulting my own work. However, it’s such a pleasant surprise based on my rereading history. My assumption is, to reread a novel, it must have really spoken to the reader in some way.
What is that magic element for you? What makes you pick up a book for the second or even the third time? Is it simply because you enjoying living in that world and want to dwell there a little longer? I would love to know what makes you want to “hoard” a book.
In the meantime, I’ll be over here throwing things out…you know, everything except my books.