My Photo

Bookish Places


Blog powered by Typepad

« June: Exit Stage Left (Prompts!) | Main | July 20 Reading Notes »



I weeded quite a bit of mine when I moved to my current house (major downsizing + we did the move ourselves in loads in the back of our hatchback, so I had a lot of incentive to get rid of stuff I didn't really want).

These days I do mostly borrow. If it's available at the library I very, very rarely buy. Only things where it's an author I know I love and there's a long wait. Most things I read, I either sell back to a used bookstore or give to friends. And I find that there's so much I want to read that I am very selective about keeping things that I "might want to read again someday". I also replaced copies of books that were available for cheap/free on Project Gutenberg or other ebook sites with ebooks (unless they were special older books).

I honestly can't remember ever regretting passing a book along. Which I would not have guessed when I did the aggressive weed-out with the move! And that was about five years ago. The experience has made me much more aggressive about keeping the tsundoku to a minimum.


In the past when physical second hand book shops used to be pretty common, I would weed my book collection by selling some to them. This was especially convenient when I used to work near a few. I would get a very small amount of money for this, but I felt it was at least better to put the books back in circulation rather than throw them away.

Nowadays, I think I only buy about 2 or 3 books a year. I rely on my local library, and I find that more convenient since it relives space problems. I buy things that I cannot find there.


I did a hard cull a few years ago now, but now I look at those shelves and think that there are other books that I could get rid of too.It's just a question of when I will get to it.


I'm more a borrower than buyer, but when the library has something that looks interesting being sold for $1, I'll buy it. I weeded my shelves when I made my move from PA to NC in January, but still managed to move 11 boxes of books. When the libraries shut down in March d/t the pandemic, I was forced to read from my shelves. (so easy to ignore them when a library book has a due date.) Those books are going out the door when this new library starts accepting donations again. I also reread 3 favorites from the 80s & 90s...what was I thinking?!? My life/reading style has changed enough that these are no longer favorites.

I've been fortunate that during this time, I'm able to read as much as before. So many friends are telling me they just aren't able to concentrate.

I've been in your shoes, too, cleaning out my parent's house 4 years ago. My brother is out of state, so everything fell to me. Not a job for the weak at heart.


There are quite a few very wise insights hidden in this post. I have done a major weeding when we did the renovation of our apartment, now three years ago and just yesterday evening I pulled another three from their shelf to part with.
Now it is not so much my taste in books having changed, but the fact that reading them asks effort rather than gives pleasure. So in my case there is not really an end to weeding and to be honest I don't mind. I like to reshuffle my books, even though I seem to have tried every possible option now, and I enjoy when real space appears on a shelf. I buy and borrow. But buy only a small part of what I used to.
Glad to find you here again Danielle:)


It's hard to cull. I ought to do more of it, but I am still in the state where I acquire books faster than I can read them- even during this pandemic I've been weeding very slowly- for every two or three books I read and like well enough to keep, only one gets a "meh" reaction and goes on the swap pile (I trade books online). If that shelf gets too full I'll donate some to the library sale when they ever have one again...

Gilion at Rose City Reader

You and I are on parallel book paths right now. My dad passed away somewhat unexpectedly in March and I’ve been cleaning out his stuff, including a lot of his books. This prompted me to cull my home library, which I’ve really never done. I don’t keep all books after I read them. But I have thousands of TBR books I’ve collected since high school 40 years ago. 😳 It hasn’t been easy but I did cull over 100 books on this first round and went through the same thought processes as you.


I stopped buying books for myself over five years ago. I had about seven hundred books and then moved out of a house to a flat. I boxed up and gave away lots but here it is a slightly harder task as English reading is not that commonplace. I still have about 300 books. I now only read through Netgalley or Amazon downloads. And when I am lucky to win a giveaway!
I try to buy lots of books for the grandchildren though.


Culling is always tough, that's why I prefer to borrow than buy. When I've just finished a book and I have not found it exceptional, I put it out of sight on a pile, and I plan to sell it away, because I can't imagine throwing it away (something that my husband has no problem doing). Your post reminds me that I have to work on this selling project, my pile is teetering!


I've weeded every time I moved. Still have lots of books. I try to only buy in my series anymore, and some series I do borrow from the library (like Anne Perry; I like reading each new series book, but I'm not interested in going back to read the old ones), but the library simply does not stock the books I read in general: these days they carry only mainstream mysteries (like Anne Perry), bestsellers, Oprah's book club books, etc. I can't count on any of the history books I might like (unless they're bestsellers). And when there IS a book you want, it takes forever if it's popular. I waited four months to read one Marie Kondo, six months for the other.

I do buy anything that looks interesting at a book sale. But I don't feel required to keep books anymore--when I'm done reading, I ask "Will I read this again?" or "Is it useful for reference?" and if the answer is no, into the trade-in box it goes--or even finish them. For example, I started the first book in a mystery series and then bought the second book at a book sale for a dollar. About halfway through the first book I decided I didn't like the characters (one of them was ultimate fantasy guy) and the plot (involving abuse of women). Both are downstairs in a box to be traded in.

Our big problem right now is the coronavirus, because McKay's, the bookstore we go to in Chattanooga, will only let you trade two bins (about three Xerox paper box contents) of books in at a time and we have four and a half boxes right now. It's not worth driving the 70 miles to Chattanooga for two bins of books. There's a used bookstore here that trades in, but they don't take as many, and their selection of books that can be redeemed with the trade-in credit, is pretty limited. (Again, mostly bestsellers, book-club books, romances, etc.) The alternative is taking two vehicles, which is wasteful of gas, and exhausting to think of.


I am on the fence about e-books. I have e-readers, I do read e-books, and I actually get all my magazine subscriptions as e-material now (except for "Early American Life," which doesn't have an electronic version) to keep down the leftover paper. But e-books don't seem "real" to me--I find I forget the story the moment I finish the book. Usually if I love the e-book enough I'll buy "a real copy." Not to mention that the light from an e-reader conks me right out these day; my husband can tell you how many times I've just closed up the e-reader and fallen asleep on the sofa because no matter how much I adjust the background light, the light from e-readers just make my eyes hurt and I MUST take a nap to clear the fog from them.


Oh, Dani -- I feel so much sympathy! Emptying out a family member's house is one of the most emotionally draining tasks that one ever does. It's also incredibly hard work. I've done it twice and was pretty much out of it for months afterwards. No wonder your reading has been "distracted;" it's amazing you managed to read anything at all.
And then, to cull one's book collection! So difficult for those who, like me, are horders and buyers of books. I did a massive reduction in my own ragtag "library" this last year, in preparation for a long distance move, and it set off some real soul searching: which do I keep? why did I buy this? will I ever read this or will I read it again? Some very difficult questions to answer, many going to the very heart of why I read, or why I acquire, or why it's so very difficult to let go not to mention issues involving my own mortality. If you're interested, you can read my own struggles here ( ) On a far better written note, the British writer Linda Grant has done a wonderful essay on her own efforts to reduce her library, published as a kindle single for $2.99, "I Murdered My Library." Not directly relevant to me, but very entertaining; it's really an essay on books and reading and well worth the modest purchase price.


I am happy to know that getting rid of so many books has not been a regrettable experience. It is hard to pass on books you think you will read someday. However it is also kind of hard to have SO many and know you will not be able to read them all--even if I live to be very old indeed! They kind of weigh on a person, don't they? Since I want to live in a smaller place I Have no choice but to weed and weed and weed! Thanks for sharing your experience. I keep thinking, that I can always get a book from the library if I really need to read it later!


Wow--that is impressive! I think the thing I spend most of my extra money on is books! I really need to curtail this--I am growing those stacks even as I am trying to get rid of them! It's crazy since I work in a library and can get ILL books and there are plenty of books old and new that I can read (even if I did not own a single book). I am not really very worried about getting money for the books, but I want to send the books to a place they are likely to find another reader to appreciate them!


I have a pretty good few piles ready to "go" and I hope to do another scan of shelves for this first go, but like you--now I need to call and make the appointment to have them looked through. What they don't buy I need to 'gift' or recycle elsewhere. It's so easy to leave them as they sit on their shelves!!


Man is it Hard to clean out someone else's house! And with the pandemic, we were mid-cleaning and had to stop as one sister lives in VA and has not been able to come home. I absolutely do not want this sort of burden (and I don't mean that harshly in any way) to fall on someone else. Besides I am at a point in life when downsizing is really appealing. All those knickknacks are just not necessary and I could easily send the away, too. I think a lot of people read a mystery or bestseller and then donate them to the public library sale as I find so many recent releases--they must be recycling actively. I suspect this is going to take many rounds of pulling books! I am one of those people finding it hard to concentrate on reading. I am reading, but not like I was a year ago. Now my library is open again for curbside pickup only so I have access to new books, and then there is my to decide on the pile of books you want to read in the years left in life??


Hi Cath--I want to try and be more regularly dropping in here, but I am still working on that! And I know what you mean by books that require more effort than you want to give them. I have pulled a lot of NF this time--books I bought when I was in college and thought that I would go into International Studies--the books are great, but I am not likely to try and tackle them now! Those are easy to let go. I will be keeping my Mary Stewarts and Clare Chambers and my Viragos and Persephones in any case. Every new sweep of the books means more end up on the give away pile! Hope you are well!


For far too long now I have only been acquiring and not recycling. It is to a point that when a cat goes into my little book room and I fear for them knocking over a pile and being crushed!! Even now, like you, I am buying. It is sort of my comfort to be honest during this pandemic-something nice to come in to the house while I am stuck here (well, now I am going into work a few days a week, so I guess I can't use that excuse anymore!).


I have brought books home from my mom's add yet more to my piles. And there are still far more there than I realized she had. Lots of lovely coffee table books and history that looks so good, but I need to try and resist bringing more home. I keep thinking that if I have not thought of a particular book in years I might as well just let it go since it has not been in my mind anyway. SO hard still. I admire people who read and just pass the book on afterwards!


It would be so hard to give away those books that were hard or expensive to acquire to begin with! I feel for you as I lived in Austria when I was younger so English language books were not easy or cheap to come by (I read a lot of crazy second hand books that I could find there). I hate to think how many hundreds of books I actually do have. I guess I just have to think of this as being an ongoing project and not feel the pressure of doing this all at once!


I could not toss a book--oh, that pains me, lol! I think I would leave it at a coffee shop first before pitching it. I could easily borrow all my books really--being at a library and having a public library account, too. I am trying to wean myself!


I am really fortunate as the used bookstore I go to is willing to make house calls. They have come several times before to buy books. I am just hoping that they will take most of what I am pulling as then I will have to find another place to give the books to. I am guilty of buying lots of books at library sales and I need to make that a rare event now. I have lots and lots of mysteries and I am not quite ready to get rid of those--unless they are cloth editions. I was also thinking that I can get a library copy in some cases so why should I have so many mysteries. Those may avoid the sell pile for now. My public library gets lots of new books but they do not always keep older books. They seriously weed in order to make space for new books. So there is a problem sometimes with finding an older book I want to read sometimes. I think my problem is I am a mood reader so I have this fear of getting rid of a book I am not in the mood for right now, but I might be later....!


I totally see how handy e-readers are for a lot of readers and how if you have no space they are perfect for having a lot of books on hand. I am just not a good e-reader. I don't really like them (just a personal thing). If I can pick up a physical book I will. I almost always now say no to galleys since publishers are mostly doing e-galleys. I figure I will get to them eventually when they are published in paper.


It has been a really rough year between my mom being sick and passing away, having to clear her house (the same house we all grew up in and still has stuff from my childhood) and then the pandemic! It is all really very sobering, which is in part why I know I need to be weeding my books. I want to read all (well most) of them, but I know I am not going to be able--certainly not at the slow rate I am going and with also using the library. I took a peek at your post--thanks for sharing the link (I will go and read it when I finish here). I guess all readers go through this. I will check out the essay, too. I think the more I end up clearing out the freer I will feel and it is not just books, I am hoping to cull clothes and just stuff that I have acquired over time. Eventually I want to move out of my house to somewhere much smaller with less maintenance to have to worry about!

The comments to this entry are closed.

Books Read in 2020

Books Read in 2019

Books Read in 2018

Books Read in 2017

Books Read in 2016

Books Read in 2015