Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Another One Bites the Dust

I don't usually make New Year's resolutions. Stuff happens. Why set myself up for failure?

Despite this, during the latter part of 2010 I resolved to go through all my bookshelves before the end of the year and weed out the books that I will never read again.  Well, my bad, I didn't make the deadline.  At the time I set the goal I didn't know that we would be spending two weeks traveling to and from Omaha, or that my teaching load this winter would be much heavier than usual.  In the past I would have beaten myself up about this.  Now, however, I'm just going to push back the due date.

I believe in deadlines, but I believe even more in setting priorities.  Donating unused books to a charity will be a Good Thing, but no homeless orphan will freeze in the Phoenix streets because I didn't do it last month, and if our bookshelves are full to bursting, they have very little visible wood that needs dusting.  Instead of pawing through my stacks of books I helped Barry's older daughter set up her new computer, played with his grandchildren, entertained our friends, and gave timely feedback to my students on their homework - even Better Things.

Sooner or later I am going to have to thin the ranks, though, because I'm not buying any more reading material until I have room for it on our existing shelves, and my favorite authors aren't going to stop publishing just because I'm not in the market for their work.  I'm just not sure whether that should be considered a resolution for this year or for this decade.

"I would be most content if my children grew up to be the kind of people who think decorating consists mostly of building enough bookshelves."  ~Anna Quindlen, "Enough Bookshelves," New York Times, August 7, 1991


  1. I can understand why you're feeling ambivalent about this. I've always found it difficult parting with books - it's like saying goodbye to old friends!
    It does seem less painful, however, when you realize that by passing them along, you're giving others the gift of knowledge, adventure, vicarious travel, or even simple escapism ( we all need a bit of escapism now and then! ).
    Definitely a Good Thing!

  2. Yes, when I'm getting rid of books I always try to give them to some person or organization who will appreciate them. I've never understood people who can throw books away; it would be like abandoning a beloved pet!