Culling and ditching


March 27, 2010 by Tracey S. Rosenberg

I completely understand people who are never, ever able to get rid of books. I also strongly suspect that these are people who never, ever have to move house.

I’ve spent 5.5 years in the same house – which is by far the longest stretch since I left the parental home (aged 16, though I was far less street than that number implies) – and I’m facing a move to somewhere much smaller. This is, I think, the *counts on fingers* 25nd move since then, not counting backtracking. Five countries, if you consider England and Scotland separately, and quite a lot of trans-Atlantic moves, though in most of those cases the bulk of my stuff remained where it was.

If three moves are worth a fire, I should be living out of a messenger bag at this point.

Problem is, most of the stuff I own is ‘personal value’ only – I don’t have more than a few pieces of IKEA furniture, all of which could be ditched if necessary, and why I don’t make a bonfire and torch the teenage-era journals, I am not quite sure. Possibly so I can blackmail myself as I grow older. The bulk of my clothing is t-shirts; at this stage I think I only own one skirt, though the number of black velveteen dresses is worrisome for someone who has never actually gone through a Goth phase, and I have acquired enough corduroy jackets to start a small consignment shop.

But the books, oh the books, they are…less worrisome than I’d expected.

I’ve culled 450 books over the last few months, and have sold off more than half of those to various people, netting myself a tidy little sum with which to start my Easter Island travel fund. (More on that later.) Only on one occasion did I dig the book out of the myriad of bags under my dining room table, study it closely, and say, with a tearful catch in my throat, ‘I cannot part with you, o beloved friend.’

(Book in question: Lust by Susan Minot, a signed copy I’ve had since college. Complete with a yellowing newspaper review tucked into the front cover.)

The truly scary part is that even after that cull, and after boxing up 150 books that I will not part with under any circumstances…I still have nearly full bookshelves.

Looks as though I’ll be reading at Roxy Readings this Wednesday. Hope to see you there!


One thought on “Culling and ditching

  1. Welcome to the club, Tracey!

    I had to move house a year ago and, since the new home is considerably smaller than the old one, I had to find temporary shelter for two cubic meters of books, which led me to thinking about issues such as bibliomania and giving books away (or selling them) instead of simply accumulating them.

    One conclusion was that, twice a year, I should go through a “disposable book reading” stage and then free some shelf space. A “one in, one out” policy might also help, presumably.

    Then again, parting with the books that I really appreciate would be too sorrowful to even consider. But those may be considerably fewer than I usually believe.

    Anyway, whether buying books, reading them, giving them away or collecting them, choose wisely. 😉

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Tiny bio

I live, work, and write in Edinburgh. I travel to other places as much as I can. To contact me, email writingmostly at gmail dot com.


CURRENTLY READING: The Ginseng Hunter by Jeff Talarigo.

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