by Sylvia Clare:
Letting go of books
While I was reshelving my books today, I started to ask myself why I was keeping all these books? The books that I've read - will I want to read them again? The books that I haven't read - when will I have time to read them?
Other than cook books, atlases, dictionaries, and music books, what else is worth keeping?
The same goes for CD's that I bought, listened once and never again. Why bother keeping them?
So I started to pack the fiction novels that I've read already. Then I started to pack those books I had no intention of reading this year.
While I was gathering them to take upstairs to my loft, I started to ask myself why I was storing these books that I didn't want displayed downstairs. Am I saving them for retirement? Am I saving them to sell when I need the money? Why am I allowing them to take up my time and space?
Nicked named "bookworm" by my mother and myself as a child, I have always loved visiting bookstores and libraries. I loved looking at books, feeling the covers and pages, the same way I enjoy looking at trees and flowers and music scores today. I loved being surrounded by books, and had hoped one day to have wall-to-wall and floor-to-ceiling covered with books.
I kept my technical books on economics, finance, and mathematics just in case I had to price another option. I kept my computer books in case I had to build another model. But I made a 180 degree turn in my career a few years back. I don't ever have to look at another mathematical equation again! So why should I keep these books, besides the fact that they are still new and unmarked, and that it took me ages to find these books.
Similarly for self-help books. I already know how to analyse myself. Reading "Emotional Intelligence" gave me the courage to write a Dear John letter. Well, maybe this book is worth keeping in case I need to write another one.
It took me five years after my PhD to throw away all the research articles and course notes. When I proudly proclaimed to my academic friends of my letting go, they were horrified. I am sure my ex-colleagues will be horrified to know that I'm selling all my books.
I now understand why second hand bookstores exist. If they get books (for free) from people like me, the sale of every book will be 100% profit. Books are as transient as human beings on earth. It's really not worth hanging onto.
6 April 2002 Saturday