Clearing the Shelves: A Bookworm Bids Goodbye

When I moved house for the first time back in February, I remember complaining about the laborious task of packing all my books.

“Why not just get rid of some?” asked a colleague. I was incredulous. Get…rid…of…books? Was that a thing people did? Surely not people who loved their books as much as I did. I was a proud collector and –

No. I was a hoarder. I still had books I read as a little girl. I had books I never finished, never started, never enjoyed. Yet I kept them. I kept them because I was a bookworm and surely that is what bookworms did. I enjoyed the tactile, sensory pleasure of books. I wanted more. I saw the glorious ‘shelfies’ on tumblr of beautifully arranged shelves packed with books. I wanted that. To be something akin to that. I was holding on to my books because I liked to talk about how many I had, as if it cemented my status as an avid reader. In hindsight, that seems a shallow motivation. A silly reason to cling to things I wasn’t going to use.

I think I read somewhere there is nothing sadder than an unread book. If I’m not going to read it, then the story is going to waste. I realised it was much better to donate or give away books that I wasn’t going to read or reread. I no longer found value in them, but someone else might. 

It was much easier than I thought. I thought I would be an emotional wreck, but I wasn’t. My eyes were dry and my mind was clear. The value isn’t in the paper and ink. Once I had enjoyed them, if I had no interest in reading them again, then it was only right to pass them along.

I still have them, in boxes ready to give away or donate. I set aside far more than I kept. What I kept were favourites that I have read over and over, reference books I like to flip through. A curated collection of beloved books. 

I then went out and got a library card. To keep myself from future hoarding, I’m going to buy on my kindle and borrow from the library. I might buy the occasional hardcopy of a book, but if I don’t love it, I’ll let it go.


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