I’ve been de-cluttering lately. I’ve gotten rid of things I never used — like the Turkish coffee demitasse set with little gold plates & spoons (a gift) and clothes I haven’t worn in years. I managed to find a good home for two pairs of hardly worn Tango shoes and I know the earrings that are too big and brand new travel coffee mugs will finally give pleasure to someone. This is a good feeling.
The books, on the other hand, have been giving me agita.
Apparently, I have no simple keep/lose criteria for books and so I’ve been chipping away at the thousands of volumes that fill the shelves and cabinets in my small studio apartment on an ad hoc basis. I can’t try them on — like a skirt I haven’t worn in a few years — or simply make a judgment on the basis of practicality — like the beautiful but breakable ceramic coasters. Books carry weight beyond their covers.
I’ve sold a few, mainly hardcover books, to the Strand Bookstore (18 Miles of New, Used and Out-of-Print Books) conveniently located near my apartment. I’ve donated bags of books to charity and, since my building began a book exchange, I’ve been bringing mysteries, romances and historical novels down to the basement. Each time I de-accession a book, and I’ve been bringing stacks down to the basement nearly every day, there’s a little twinge of doubt.
Will I read it again? No. Will I refer to it in research? Maybe. Will a friend want to borrow it? Unlikely. Still I waiver.
In my bedroom, I have narrow bookcases filled with paperbacks — primarily mysteries. Individually they are odd reminders of interesting reads, strange travels, good authors, odd experiences and disappointments — collectively they are a wallpaper of books, a comforting blanket of stories that I’m not in a hurry to dismantle.