Lifelet: Culling and rearranging a lifetime of books

Day 145 of Self Quarantine             Covid 19 Deaths in U.S.:  158,000

I love books.

I don’t love organizing my books.

I hate culling my books.

I really hate finding that I bought the same book multiple times.

My brother urged me on my organizing quest by sending several articles from the Washington Post book critic, Michael Dirda.  Michael realized that the pandemic lock-down might be a good time to start culling his books:

My books are scattered all over our house.

Skip’s Library of Books

Inspired by Dirda, I decide that most of my mystery and thriller fiction books need to go.  For the last ten years, my kindle library holds all of the fiction books I acquire.  I box the hard copy and paperback books up to free at least one bookcase to consolidate random piles of my professional books.

Reorganizing in progress

As I start the re-arranging, I encounter fives years of accumulation of dust on every surface including every book.  Deep cleaning needs to occur in parallel with the great re-organizing.  My lovely bride “volunteers” to help with the cleaning.  Thank you Jamie.

Dirda shares:

“So, picture me two weeks ago, as I sat on a white plastic lawn chair inside a gigantic metal oven, picking up book after book and only occasionally feeling a Kondoesque spark of joy amid many spasms of regret. The whole process made me feel old. I was almost certainly taking a last look at novels and nonfiction I would never read or never return to. I no longer had world enough and time.”

The fiction books were easy to part with for me.  They are mostly mysteries, thrillers and spy novels.  I don’t think I have a classic fiction book anywhere in my collection (or should I say hoard).  The Excel for Dummies and HTML Programming books are easy fodder for the great give away.

But there is no way I could part with:

I never read the book, but the title says it all.  I keep finding books that I forgot I had.

With great mental fortitude I refrain from opening any of my treasured friends.

I take a break.

Moving all the books to and fro in this one room is back breaking.  Taking the occasional author series of books upstairs to the “main book case” begins to strain.  Yesterday, I got 10,000 steps on my Fitbit and I never left the house.

I pull out Dirda’s latest column to find some inspiration:

“Over the past two months, I’ve been sorting and culling the vast number of books I’ve accumulated in a lifetime of reading and collecting. What do I mean by vast? It’s hard to say precisely, but, overall, we’re talking the equivalent of a small, but not that small, neighborhood library. Given that I also own several hundred LPs and CDs, a substantial number of movies on DVD and many oversize illustrated volumes devoted to the major artists of the world, this modest, overstuffed brick Colonial can also function — if you possess a seriously vivid imagination — as a concert hall and art museum.”

Head slap to forehead.  I forgot about all my CDs, DVDs, and VHS movie tapes.  That is two more rooms that have to be reorganized.

Clearly, this is a first world problem.

I am privileged that I was able to afford all of these escapes from reality.

I need this activity to put all the existential crises and doom scrolling out of my “groundhog day” mental anguish for a few hours.

I hope my children and grand children will appreciate The Great Re-organizing when I am gone.

This entry was posted in Amazon Kindle, Content with Context, Curation, Lifelet. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Lifelet: Culling and rearranging a lifetime of books

  1. Linda Frost says:

    “With great mental fortitude I refrain from opening any of my treasured friends.” A year ago, when I emptied a filing cabinet of choral music, I knew that I could not open a single one. They all had to go into paper recycle. I knew that if I opened a single one, I would not be able to throw it away. Tears were shed. Good luck with your Herculean effort!

  2. Skip Walter says:

    Thanks Linda. Yes, the culling of my professional books will be a painful experience. Fortunately I don’t have to do that with my Kindle books.

  3. smr17 says:

    Hello Skip! Enjoying your daily posts and was wondering when you’d start re-thinking your hardcopy book collection😊. I give mine away as often as possible to avoid the backbreaking work, too many books, too little time😉. I’m sure your family does appreciate the Great Reorganizing…from one book lover to another…cheers, pat rosa🤓

    Sent from my iPhone


    • Skip Walter says:

      Thanks Pat. I hope you and yours are staying healthy and safe in these pandemic times. My inner Marie Kondo finally caught up with me. Slowly seeing empty space emerge in one of my piled high with the physical detritus of a wonderful life is very exciting. I am not through with the first room yet and I have four more rooms to go. Arghh. Enjoy what is left of summer. Peace, Skip

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