Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Letting Go

The time has come again to cull some books from my collection. I've been acquiring new books hand over fist here lately and I need some space on my bookshelves. As some of you may recall, when I moved, over four years ago now, I got rid of roughly 3600 books, bringing 800 hardbacks and about that many paperbacks with me to my new place. This fills six 6' bookshelves with a little overspill to one smaller bookshelf. And I made a deal with myself that I would buy no more bookshelves. So as new books come in, old books must go out.
However there's a slight problem with that. I have the collector mentality. There are some books I've had forever, and though I'm not likely to ever read them again, I don't seem to want to part with them. This, as Mr. Spock says, is not logical. Some are leftovers from former hobbies or interests which I haven't indulged in for years. Some the works of authors who I no longer read. Some are reference books that I think I might need again some day. And some just have some sentimental value.
So I have begun leaning some sections out. I used to be fascinated by the Jack the Ripper murders and I had over a dozen reference books on Saucy Jack. I have pared that down to six. I suspect I could get that number down to two, but I'll wait a bit. I've gotten rid of all my Kinky Friedman books except the two that are autographed to me. Don't really read the Kinkster these days.
The one author who has always been safe has been Robert B, Parker, but it occurs to me that I don't really need all those Parker hardbacks any more. They take up a lot of room and, except for the very early ones, they aren't valuable. So I have separated out the ones that are autographed or rare. I haven't gotten rid of the others yet, but I'm certainly thinking about it.
See, the thing is, getting rid of things I've had for so long, even when I no longer need them, seems like I'm closing a door on someone I used to be. When I got rid of my comic book collection it felt almost as if I were betraying my younger self, saying, "I'm not that guy anymore so I can throw out his stuff." Almost as if I were dismissing things that were once of vital importance to me. These are things I used to define myself by. When I first moved, I was proud to display a lot of these books. Now, not so much. I've moved on. But it's still hard to let go sometimes.
Still, as I have noted before, through the wonders of the internet there are very few books that I couldn't get again within a couple of days if I really wanted to. Except for some collectible stuff, it's all replaceable. So I really shouldn't worry. Bruce Lee once said, "When you have used a boat to cross a river, don't carry that boat upon your back." I think the man had a point. Then again he also owned a lot of books.

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