Personal Library Management
I have a lot of books in my house. In fact, that is one of the first things many people say when they come overto my house–”Wow, you sure do have a lot of books!” They usually sound a bit awed and confused.
I am not a crazy book hoarder, really. I have two sets of bookshelves in my living room, 4 shelves of books on storage units in my family room and a large hutch in my dining room that is mostly full of books. There are books piled on the front of some of the shelves, and I do have another bookshelf in my room, but there aren’t piles of books on the floor along the walls or anything (we’ll ignore the stack by my bed for the moment, ). Frankly, I am surprised at how few books other people have, even some my friends that do read. They read a book and then pass it on, or get a lot of books from the library. They might have one small set of bookshelves, in an office or bedroom, not out in the public spaces of the house.
While I have some sympathy for the library readers–books can be expensive, especially when you read a lot–this still seems very strange to me. I love surrounding myself with books. I love the ability to pull out a well-loved book and read a favorite passage at any time. I love that I can always lend someone a great book. When I am feeling cash poor in a given month, say after some unexpected car repairs, I like knowing I can always find something on my shelves to read to distract me from worries and have a good time. I find the sight of books throughout the house reassuring, comforting.
I have some mixed feelings on re-reading books. Except for a few favorites, I prefer to be surprised by a book, so I don’t want to re-read them when I know what is going to happen already. However, the benefit of keeping books around for a long time is that I can forget them. That doesn’t sound like a benefit, I know, but think about it: I have a large collection of books that are practically new to me when I read them, since I remember very little of the plot, but I do know that I will really enjoy them all!
At 41, I don’t feel old at all, but I have books that I have kept since high school, over 20 years ago. I can pick these books up and know almost nothing about them, except that I liked the book enough to keep it all these years. Sometimes I find that my taste has improved, and a book that I remember as amazing is merely adequately written, but I still can’t bring myself to get rid of those books. The ideas were just what I needed to read at that time, and my readiness to hear that message overcame any flaws in the writing. I enjoy the book for the memory of who I was when I read it, even if I don’t enjoy the book itself as much as I once did.
Do you keep books or get rid of them? How do you feel about re-reading books? If you do re-read, what are your favorites?
I am glad I am not the only one! I just find it funny when people act surprised at the amount of books I have, it doesn't seem like that many to me. I am thinking about getting more shelves, actually, so I can feel surrounded by books in my living room. Right now, I only have books shelves on two walls. I find the idea of being surrounded by books reassuring. I know my mother will think it is weird, though.
Man, your house sounds like mine! There are books everywhere, and we even had to put up a shelf in the dining room because we ran out of wall space. It's a bit crazy, but I wouldn't trade my books for anything. No seriously, I'm not giving them away. There are books there I've never read. And I might NEVER read them (those are very few and far between) but I'm not going to give them up on the off chance I MIGHT read them someday. I very rarely reread because I'd rather be reading new stuff, but that doesn't mean I'm giving stuff up. On the rare occasion I have gotten rid of books it's one of three reasons: a) I HATED the book so much I don't even want to see it in my house b) I have two of them or c) I've traded up to an omnibus (when it comes to series I collect I'll get rid of the originals in lieu of the omnibus).
I reread books all the time. I usually read the Harry Potter series every couple of years and I read the Prydain Chronicles once a year on schedule. It's always amazing to me what different stuff I pick up on the second, third, and tenth times around!
I agree with you, Quinn! While I can certainly understand frequenting a library to read all of those books that you don't want to drop money on to buy, I still love buying books that I *know* I'll love and read again. There's just something about surrounding yourself with books that is so wonderful. Even though I buy some books on my iPad, I don't think I'll ever stop buying "actual" books.