The Great Book Purge

17 November 2005 · 10 comments

“Who are you and what have you done with my husband?” — Kris

I’ve been quiet around here lately, but that’s a good thing. I’m tidying the nooks and crannies of my life. For example:

We have many bookcases with many shelves. To be precise, we have eighty-five bookshelves of about thirty inches each. That’s approximately 2550 inches of books, or about 213 feet. That’s a hell of a lot of books.

The recent change in my mental outlook has allowed me to realize that I don’t need to possess as many books as I once did. It used to be that I felt the urge to own any book that looked remotely interesting. No longer. Nowadays I’m more interested in purchasing high-quality copies of books that I already love or want to treasure. Girl With a Golden Earring? A low-quality book group selection that I certainly don’t need to keep. Moby Dick with woodcut illustrations? A keeper! Most books I can find at the public library.

Spurred by Live Simple, I’ve scoured our bookshelves in an attempt to free space. To do this, I deliberately shut off my sentimental faculties. “But that was a gift from Joel! But that was a book that I read when I first met Kris! But that was my favorite book when I was twelve!” So what? If it’s not a book that I want to re-read or to keep as reference then I set it aside to purge. Kris vetoed some of my choices, and I kept books that I knew would be difficult to replace (The Dune Encyclopedia is highly collectible and out of print), but to the extent that I could, I was ruthless in my culling. As a result I’ve purged hundreds of books. (This sounds impressive, but really it only freed about twelve shelves of space. I still have seventy-three shelves filled with books.)

The Great Book Purge is but one example of the recent changes in my life. There are others, and they’re all good. I am happy with this place, this new me that I’ve found.

Today was a big day at Rosings Park, a day we’ve awaited with much anticipation. It was the day of the New Range. Exactly at noon, we took receipt of a brand new Maytag Gemini Precision Touch 750 gas double-oven range. Good-bye, old range, with your unpredictable heating and igniters that didn’t work; hello, new range, with your continuous grates and two separate ovens!

After the range was installed, and I had tested it with a can of bean-with-bacon soup, I headed out to purchase a light fixture for the study. As you may recall, I’ve been coveting a specific art deco slipper-shade lamp from Rejuvenation.

I wasn’t able to fulfill my dream today, however; the lamp is a special-order. Dejected, I drove home and purged the encyclopedias.

1 Jeff November 18, 2005 at 07:02

“I’ve been coveting a specific art deco slipper-shade lamp from Rejuvenation. I wasn’t able to fulfill my dream today, however; the lamp is a special-order. Dejected, I drove home…”

Why is it that we Roths have this need for instant gratification? I feel your pain…

2 Amy Jo November 18, 2005 at 07:15

Congrats on the new stove (and forthcoming light fixture)! I’m glad to hear that you were able to purchase it before holiday baking ensued. I’ve been pleasantly surprised at how often I use both ovens on our Jenn Air, and how quickly I can bake in quantity. Last night I roasted sweet potatoes in the top oven and broiled flank steak in the bottom. The sweet potatoes were finished cooking before the steak, but I used the “keep warm” setting (for the first time) and it worked perfectly. I look forward to many fine meals at Rosings Park (hint, hint).

3 Betsy November 18, 2005 at 14:44

Hmmm…I still have Getting Things Done on order at the library, and now you’ve just turned me onto another website to accomplish the same aims.

I would call you my organizational guru, but those stacks of books suggest otherwise…instead, you’re a fellow wanna-be simplifier fifteen steps ahead of me, how’s that?

AND – next time you’re up near Rejuvenation, send me a shout-out, will you? I work very near there and can always sneak out for a quick cup of coffee…

4 john November 18, 2005 at 15:00

What are you going to do with all those books?

More specifically, that Tick book?

5 J.D. November 18, 2005 at 15:15

Betsy, I’ll have to remember that. We just went back this afternoon to get a different light fixture. And, John, I’ll e-mail you for your address. The Tick books are yours!

This brings up an interesting idea: I’d be happy to post a list of some of the books I’m purging if any of you think you might be interested in parts of my library. Sound fun?

6 Amy Jo November 19, 2005 at 08:15

Which light fixture did you get?

7 tammy November 20, 2005 at 08:48

Yeh post that list. I’m dyin’ to see it.

8 Stacy November 21, 2005 at 01:42

I am just TREMBLING at your book purge! I could never do that! I love my books TOO MUCH! :sigh:

What do you plan to do with these books? Sell them? Donate to the library?

9 mac November 21, 2005 at 09:19

Stacy, I think I heard J.D. say he was going to burn them. You better rush over for the 4:00 intervention.

10 john November 22, 2005 at 09:34

Wow, thanks J.D.
Christmas present for me!

I had a big book purge a while back. It’s funny though, I couldn’t get myself to get rid of my books in the “it was my favorite book when I was twelve!” category.

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