Friends know that I have a bad habit of collecting things… My DVD collection was the stuff of legend, until we downsized several years ago. (And even then we kept the DVDs, just ditched the boxes.)
Now comes the real purge: we’ve decided to get rid of most of our books.
You can imagine how difficult this is for someone who’s steadily built a collection over three decades. For most of my adult life I’ve owned a copy of every book in favorite authors’ catalogues. Notable entries include Michael Crichton, Tom Clancy, John Grisham, and Anne Rice… It’s shocking how many hours I have spent in my lifetime reading the words on these pages.
Ultimately, though, I had to apply my “anti-hoarding” logic:
- Have I thought about, intentionally looked at, or touched the item (for anything other than cleaning), in the past year?
- Am I realistically likely to ever go looking for it, pick it up, and use it?
- Is it sentimental, and I mean really sentimental? (This is an easy catch-all category that can be abused, so it’s important to be truly discerning here…)
Using this with books, I had to ask myself which books were truly impactful to my life, I loved beyond all reason, I read over and over again, and I’d be realistically like to pick up and read again in a fit of nostalgia.
As an example, from Anne Rice’s catalogue, I kept Interview with the Vampire, skipped The Vampire Lestat, and kept Queen of the Damned, skipped Tale of the Body Thief, kept Memnoch the Devil, and skipped all of the other Vampire Chronicles books. Similarly, I kept The Witching Hour, but skipped every other book she’s written. I kept Tom Clancy’s The Hunt for Red October and Executive Orders, but none of the rest. From Stephen King, I kept It, Misery, and Needful Things, and nothing else.
So besides this being a giant confession for me, and potentially thought-provoking for you (what should you consider cleaning out?), what does this have to do with you? Well, quite simply, there are hundreds of hardcover books that could be all yours if you come get them.
We’re hanging on to them through New Year’s Day, and then we’re donating them. So if you’re in NYC, bring a bag or a box, and come grab some books to take home with you.