I’ll just say it–I’m a book collector. I’ve felt comforted by books, both buying and owning them. I guess I was working with the philosophy that I needed plenty of books to choose from. When I was in college, I would go to a used bookstore a few times a year and come home with a plastic bag full of books. More than a decade later, I had shelves and shelves and shelves of books that I hadn’t read. Still more shelves and shelves with books I called “keepers” because my experience reading them moved me in some way.
Then I started reading ebooks. I started by printing them out and reading them as if they were paperbacks. Then I read PDFs on computer. Eventually, I switched to an ereader. By the time I bought a tablet, I realized something: the books I chose from my TBR pile were most often ebooks. I wasn’t reading much in print any more.
One of the reasons was that I was overwhelmed by print books. When you have more than a thousand to choose from–and I don’t think this is an exaggeration–how do you decide on one? My answer was that I didn’t. I’d choose an ebook instead.
This past month I had a major asthma attack, and that led to more reevaluating. I needed to do something about the books that were doing nothing more than taking up space and collecting dust. That meant tackling the TBR pile and deciding which books I still wanted to keep. It also meant looking at my keeper shelves and asking myself which ones I had really read again in the past five or so years.
All of this has led to the great book sorting.
It’s still a work in progress, but I’m letting a lot of books go. Hundreds of them. It’s scary, but it feels good too. I don’t want to deal with so much dust. I want to be able to find a book I want to read. I want to share books I don’t need with someone who will use them. So I’m sorting.
And I’m learning to be OK with letting go.