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.