Thursday, September 29, 2005


On Friday a man from Missions to Seamen is coming to the house to take away my books. I have far too many books, and they take up too much space. I have decided to be ruthless, and have told The Man to just send all the cartons I've been piling up downstairs to be sorted one day. I have no time to sort them. They're all going.

He has been taping up the cartons and getting them ready for collection. Some of them are piled up by the front door already. I don't know how many there will be. More than twenty cartons. I don't want to count them. I am trying to ignore them.

Yesterday, as he was repacking some of the cartons, he called,

"I think I saw a Doris Lessing book in one of those boxes. Don't you want to keep those?"

"YES!" I shouted. "Which box?"

"I think it's that one. Or maybe that one."

I ripped off the tape and opened the cartons, and looked through. Immediately a little voice in my head started. Ooh! This is a good book! Maybe I'll read this one again... and look! Do I really want to get rid of this one? These are GOOD BOOKS. Do I really want to give them away? Are ALL the cartons like this, so full of good stuff?

Suddenly I wanted to throw myself on the piles of cartons, screaming, "NO! NO! DON'T TAKE THEM AWAY! STOP! THESE ARE MINE! MINE! MINE!"

Then got a grip on myself and put them all back. The Doris Lessing was not there, but The Man found it for me in another carton. I kept only that one. I also still have a lot on my bookshelves, the only ones I actually sorted. I kept about a quarter of those.

I'm grateful to The Man for doing this. I never open these boxes, normally. They just sit there, taking up space. Lots and LOTS of space. As the books are getting packed away and put aside, the house keeps getting bigger.

But I'm glad The Man is packing the books, and not me. If I were packing them the job would never get done. I would start reading and wondering if perhaps I should keep this one, and that one, and ...

But I wonder if any of those missing Leslie Thomas books are in those cartons? I can't go through them to find out. I couldn't bear it. And anyway, The Man would kill me if I untaped any more of those carefully packed cartons.

I have to stop thinking about this now.


Carrie said...

I don't know how you are finding the strength to give away books. Twenty cartons does seem excessive though. I have become a ruthless purger of most things, after moving so often. Books, though, still are too dear to my heart until I truly didn't like them.

Good luck staying strong!

Lippy said...

Don't loooook!!! Nooooooo!

Keep it up and stay strong - all that room in your house can still be filled... with NEW books! ;-)

Wiccachicky said...

Oh that is so funny! My partner does this too! He is so bad about books...even ones he hasn't read or is never going to read, he'll hoard them up. I am bad about it too, but I have tried to get better as the years go by and only keep ones I think are "classics" or ones I definitely need for research.

tinyhands said...

Hopefully the next owner will find as much joy in owning them as you did.

Lisa said...

i recently unpacked all my books, and was delighted to find some i forgot i had. i briefly considered not unpacking them and just getting them out of the way, but i didnt have the heart.

Robert said...

I periodically have to purge the shelves. Books I know I'll never get around to reading go, books I have read and didn't like go, and even a lot of books I did like have to go. I rarely reread anything and the shelves are overflowing already. I'm certainly not going to stop buying new ones, so out with the old.

Have you been to

Badaunt said...

The man from the Mission for Seamen comes today, and the books will go. They will go all OVER the place. They take these books for sailors who come to Kobe port. The last time I donated books there, I was told a German ship had just arrived, manned by Filipino sailors, and the ship's library was full of German books, and they were desperate. Sailors get bored a lot, apparently, and they were grateful for my eight or ten cartons of books.

I get a kick out the the idea of my books going off to sea. Where will they end up?

(I checked out BookCrossing, but it's not so popular in Japan for English books, and I just had TOO MANY.)

kenju said...

Books are the hardest thing for me to get rid of. Tonight I am going to a book club meeting, and we have been asked to bring some books we don't want to exchange for the books others will bring. That sounds like a great idea to me.

Pkchukiss said...

The troll encourages you to hoard your books...

Who knows, you might find a book that you had intended to read, but missed...

(Playing the devil here :-))

Badaunt said...

Too late - they're all GONE! I came home today and they were all GONE!

The Man tells me there were something like 35 or 37 cartons. The Kobe Mariners' Centre man (they changed their name, apparently) came with a large van today that turned out to be only just big enough. He was really, really happy to get the books. He was also rather surprised at how many there were, although I had warned him. I'm glad I wasn't here. I wouldn't have been able to bear it, but also, it would have been embarrassing. How did I end up with so many books? Don't I have a LIFE?

(But there are still PLENTY left. I haven't done one cupboard, and there are also two boxes near my desk I did't touch, because they contain too many unread books. I'm working on shelving those tomorrow, now that I have space.)