Wednesday, August 3, 2011

A Big, Beautiful Library in My Home

I grew up wanting walls of books.  A room where each wall was floor to ceiling with them.  Maybe a small den area with a fine oak desk and a great leather executive chair and a bay window with pillows to read in.

The wonderful room I saw in so many movies growing up.  I was in love with the magic of this imaginary room.  I knew that I would one day have one in my home.

And so, as my life progressed, I accumulated books.  I believe strongly in the power of reading.  A love of reading.  And in order to facilitate this for my children I made sure to have lots of books.  Lots for them to read at every age.  Lots for me to read, since it's important for children to see their parents reading if they are to catch the reading bug.  And because I like to read.

But I learned that books are mostly a one time deal.  You read them once and move on to the next adventure.  Maybe little kid books are read over and over, but even then it's only a select few.  We own hundreds, if not thousands, of books.  I would estimate that the ones that have been read more than once are fewer than five percent.

So why do I still have them?  I've been pondering this for quite a while now.  How many books that I own do I love enough that I would save them from a burning building?  Truthfully, none.

The reasons I came up with for still having them are interesting.  I have them because I spent money on them and books are good and noble things to have.  I have them because I enjoyed them and would like to have them to loan to friends or suggest to my kids.  I have them because I always wanted that big library.

None of those reasons are good enough to me anymore.  The magic is not in the big, beautiful library.  The magic is in gaining a love of reading.  Taking my kids to the public library is an adventure.  It's magical.  The library has more than I can possibly ever offer.  They can keep up with my kids' changing tastes.  They have all the newest books.  And they store them so I don't have to.

I'm not going to lie.  It's tough.  I consider this sort my first.  I know I will sort again and get rid of more.  Right now if I struggle to decide, I keep it.  Or if one of my kids feels strongly about it, I keep it.  And I'm boxing some up for my daughter who is going to teach high school English; she'll have a good collection of classics in her classroom without having to buy them.

There are a few that I really enjoyed that I considered keeping.  But I'm imagining that there are others out there who would enjoy them too.  I am ready to pass them on, knowing I can always get them from the library if I really want to read them again.

I'm keeping several for my grandma days.  I want to be the grandma who reads with the kids.  And who encourages reading when they visit.

But the tough ones.  Oh, yes, there are tough ones.  I have many books that were given to me after my grandma died.  With inscriptions.  To her from her father.  The book is not something I will ever read.  I have many other keepsakes from her.  And yet, I can't just donate them.  I'm cheating and giving them back to my mother.  I'll probably have to face the decision again when my mom passes away.  For now, they can live at her house.

There are also some that are quite old.  I have several from the 1900s and a few from the 1800s.  Some in good shape, some not so much.  I can't seem to part with the ones that are over a hundred years old.  Whether I would ever read them or not.  Even if the binding is falling apart.  I still might donate them, but I would want to donate them to someone who would know how they should really be cared for.  Someone who could preserve their beauty.

I've made lots of progress.  I've got a few boxes ready to go.  I'll be getting rid of more as I continue to clean and sort through my house.  I'll let some friends go through them and take what they want and then I'll donate what's left to the public library.  I'm ready to let these old friends have a new adventure with a new home.

Most of them, anyway.

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Blogger Yarell said...

I think we're in sync on this one. I've got loads of books. I love them all. And for the last several months (and some even years) they've all been sitting in boxes. After the remodel, i just haven't gotten them back out, and ... i don't really miss them.

Sure, there are some i want to keep, but the rest (the vast majority)? I don't know. As soon as i look at them, i'm sure i'll want to keep them. I need to be strong and do what you're doing - donate them, sell them, give them away. it's not like i'll read 99% of them ever again, so why keep them around?

August 3, 2011 at 7:52 AM  
Blogger Jessica Grosland said...

Hurrah for not having to spend all my poor teacher money on buying the classics! Thanks, Mom!

(*sighs*) I love my books. I just have a little shelf, but I've reread almost every book on that shelf at least once. I like rereading them, as long as I read a lot of books in between so I don't remember most of the details.

Oh, how I want that library! Maybe someday when I have a house....

August 3, 2011 at 8:28 AM  
Blogger Linda said...

All I can say Robin is be careful and I say that because I did the same thing years ago and really regret it now. Of course I couldn't have traveled with them and didn't want to have to pay to store them, but I wish I had kept many of them. However, I can tell you are being careful, but still... something inside me wants to say you can't do this. :)

August 3, 2011 at 9:27 AM  
Blogger 2girlsonabench said...

We've gone through the same thing and had to downsize due to space. Now we've both have Kindles and are loving how many books fit in a small space. Good luck!

August 3, 2011 at 12:11 PM  
Blogger Urban Gypsy said...

Oh girl I feel your pain! I love books. When I read them it's like I'm having an affair with them. I can't stop, I can't leave them alone - and then abruptly it's over. I just can't seem to find a way to let them go completely! I have books everywhere - and a Kindle that is full to the brim. I applaud your efforts! Wish I could do it too! :)

August 3, 2011 at 1:20 PM  
Anonymous Blue Cotton memory said...

I'm with you there on the books. As my youngest son reads better, I pass all the readers to his teachers that were awesome - and I keep the ones I want for my grandkids when they come over (going to be a grandma New Years Eve!! WooHoo!). My mom keeps giving me books she finds at estate sales - and I'm at the point like you: I only want to keep the ones that have meaning to me:)

August 4, 2011 at 10:00 PM  
Anonymous Caren with a "C" said...

Timely post... I'm going through my bookshelves tomorrow in an effort to declutter the family room where we do homeschooling. I'm going to get rid of some recipe books... because honestly... I 99% of the time search the internet for recipes. There goes the recipe book collecting hobby!

August 5, 2011 at 2:06 AM  
Blogger MJ said...

I understand completely. I always wanted a library with lots of books in my house. I still have the 1st book I bought with my own money in the 5th grade. I have books every where in my home. Books I love, like and even hated. The last time I moved I decided to get rid of some. It was a hard process. I keep thinking this one so and so gave me. Or its part of a series or its a classic. I even have several books that survived a fire that I can not throw out.

Good luck with your purge!

August 5, 2011 at 1:57 PM  
Blogger Day said...

Beautiful. :)

I have a friend who passionately loves old books, and takes very good care of physical objects. If you'd ever like me to put the two of you in contact, drop me a line.

August 5, 2011 at 10:49 PM  
Anonymous On The Road Again said...

Oh I know what you are going through. When we started RVing I had to make the switch from hardback books to Kindle. Oh how it sadden me to have to give up the books, I donated them to the library but it still brought tears to my eyes There are some books that I love to read again every year, the characters are like old friends. But just think of the joy they will bring to the library readers.

August 7, 2011 at 8:36 PM  
Blogger Snuggly Monkey mama said...

I had the same dream growing up and a part of me still hopes that one day I will be able to have a library in my house because the thought of such a glorious reading room makes me smile, but I've moved so much over the years that I've also had to cut back my book collection. It is hard to do. I also stopped buying so many books a few years back and committing to using the library more. Great post. Found you through SITS.

August 8, 2011 at 1:05 AM  
Blogger The Blonde Duck said...

Popped in from SITS! I'd happily move into a library. My dream is to have one from Beauty and the Beast!

August 8, 2011 at 4:29 AM  
Blogger carina@a punk, a pumpkin and a peanut said...

I love books and I have always loved the look of a big library in a home. But, I am trying to weed through mine and only keep the ones of significance. I might not read them again, but if they really meant something to me, I hold onto it. My husband would donate them as soon as he is finished reading them if it were up to him. Good for you for letting go - it's always hard, isn't it?

August 9, 2011 at 1:18 AM  
Blogger Sarah Ruth said...

I am the same way. I LOVE to read. I have hundreds of books. I haven't read them all yet. I am working on it. And I've dreamed of having a library like that too!

August 9, 2011 at 10:00 PM  
Blogger April said...

I have a lot of books too-and I like to read, but I am not a pack rat. My husband, on the other hand, hates to get rid of things in case we need it later. It's always a tension! Thanks for stopping by on my SITS day!

August 10, 2011 at 11:39 AM  
Blogger Stephi said...

For MY library I wanted to have a separate little "Wendy house" made out of white washed would an glass. it would have a ladder leading to an upstairs loft- where I would keep all my real special book and then have a lovely cushy sofa downstairs with a little fridge :)

August 10, 2011 at 2:40 PM  
Anonymous Caren with a "C" said...

I went through those books the other day and got rid of some, but have more purging to do. I realized on some church books that I really could just get them for free in an e-reader and the only reason I was holding on to them was because I thought "I might need them someday" at the end of the world. But then reality set in and I thought that if it really was the end of the world, all I would need is the scriptures. So I will be purging more.

August 10, 2011 at 2:45 PM  
Blogger Linda said...

I just read all these comments again Robin and it makes me happy to hear so many people talk about how they love books.

I just checked in on your blog because last time your post didn't show up in my blog updates and so when I get caught up on reading the updates I go check who I haven't heard from in awhile. Not a hint or anything. :) I hope all is well with you.

August 15, 2011 at 7:43 PM  

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