Every once in a while a friend will give me a stack of books. ‘If these are worth anything, sell them. If not, donate them,’ they say.
I work through them. I can say with confidence that popular fiction and mass market paperbacks are almost never worth a thing. I always check, though.
I love getting a window on their past reading lives- or their not-reading lives, as the case may be. The road to overcrowded living room bookshelf hell or unusable garage hell is paved with beautiful brand-new books on child development, art, sex, religion, love, high literature, nutrition. They are throwing it all away, often unread, and it cracks me up.
We meant to inform ourselves, to learn, to mull, to take time to enjoy. We really did.
But Raising Your Child the <insert wise popular child development expert name here> – unopened. We all just muddle on through without Kafka, without a solid grounding in Italian language or the folklore of Ireland. We really meant to have at our mental fingertips those witticisms from the latest acerbic popular progressive- whose wisdom seems to be dated almost the minute we buy the book. And those volumes of classical homeschool curriculum with fresh shiny workbook to match? Not so much. Never even started.
I am grateful for this understanding. I am grateful to have been swamped with approximately two tons of books, one thousand cataloged and offered for sale in the past year and a half, certainly that many left to go through, with more speed I hope. And though I try to ‘be good,’ more lovely, lovely books are coming in from friends and book sales all the time.
Because of this experience, I have firmly resolved, in our own household, that no books shall be stored inside the house except those we are currently reading and a few truly valuable collectibles we choose to keep.
The public library shall be our bookshelf. All books shall be fodder for the book business, or donated posthaste. It is hard to enforce- but I can assure you vigorous purges occur on a very regular basis.
And so, back to work.