Must get rid of books

marie26June 11, 2010

I'm moving to a 900 sq. ft apartment from a house. I have bookshelves that take up about 1 1/2 walls worth of space and they are filled with books.

These books have been collected through many years and I will try to sell certain collections or those that I know have value. It's the others that I'm having trouble with. It's hard to sell them where I live so the only choice is to give them to a place such as Good Will. But I am having trouble letting go of them although I have no choice.

How do you live with the emotions of letting go of something you've collected for many years that hold emotional value?

Also, because I am trying to save the boxes I have for the move, will heavy duty garbage bags be strong enough to hold books should I give them to Good Will?

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I think you are having trouble letting go because you don't know where they are going. You don't know if they will molder away or another reader will find them and that's a hard thing to think of happening for something you treasure. It's giving them to good will that is troubling you.

Instead of good will why not your local library. I often give books to the library and they are grateful for the donation. Sometimes they go on the library shelves and sometimes they are sold to make money for the library to buy other books. Either way you will know they are going to a place where they will be appreciated.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2010 at 2:51AM
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No I don't think garbage bags will work. Even paperbacks are heavy when you get enough of them and besides the bags would be unwieldy to move. Visit your local liquor store. They have good heavy boxes that are great for packing

    Bookmark   June 11, 2010 at 2:57AM
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Depending on the type of book, the Library, as oilpainter suggested, or if you are near a Veteran's Agency (local or county level) they will often take books and distribute them to their hospitals or other facilities.

The link below lists many outlets for donating books. I would suggest separating them by subject and go from there, little by little.

I second the liquor boxes. Sturdy and easier to handle.

Here is a link that might be useful: Where to donate books

    Bookmark   June 11, 2010 at 5:10AM
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My books are like family members to me. Not just "sentimental value", but they teach, encourage, and enrich me as a person. I have too many, too. And I move a lot. And I like "minimalism", to boot. So, with each move I challenge myself to get rid of just a few more. Two moves ago (in 2004) I streamlined the books down to as few as possible; only keeping the ones that I could look at and know "why" I needed to keep it - b/c of the specific information (most of my books are not fiction), or knowing it is out of print, yet an important book, etc. I still have a lot of books, but they are essential to "me". I don't keep a lot of "things" of any sort, so this is going to be the one area that after I'm gone, the people will have to clean up after me.

Also - I have learned that from now on not keep books as I read them, unless they are truly, truly "worth it".

Running out the door... hope this sounds like it makes sense (and doesn't make anyone mad)....
Miss Mary

    Bookmark   June 11, 2010 at 2:14PM
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For those books that you just can't get rid of why not build a single bracketed shelf near the top of your rooms in your new home to store them up and out of the way? We did this for our daughters beloved stuffed toys in our last home when she not longer played with them, but wasn't ready to be rid of them.
If you want heavy duty trash bags, buy them at Home Depot that are meant for construction materials. We use them in our garage and they are extremely heavy duty.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2010 at 3:00PM
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Do you have to give up all your books? I live in an 850 square foot apartment. There are bookcases in every room but the bathroom and hallway. I did give away some books before I moved here, but it was more because I just didn't want to move that many books (I have a lot of books).

You may not be able to take all your books, but I don't quite understand why you must give them all up. Surely there's a way to fit your favorite books into a bookcase somewhere?

    Bookmark   June 11, 2010 at 3:56PM
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Maybe the apartment you have selected is too small for your needs, if you are a book person?

But likely you have other reasons for choosing it, and actually, I'm in the same boat as there is not room for my books and my family in our house. So I have a storage locker, and books are a large part of what is in it.

Nothing like having to pay to store them to zero you in on the question of whether you really want to keep them or not.

If you do give them away, I absolutely second the idea of the library. Even if they don't shelve them, many libraries hold occasional book sales to raise revenue.


    Bookmark   June 11, 2010 at 5:41PM
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One of the coolest ways to store books that I have ever seen was a shelf placed above windows and dressed up with a little "picket fence" that was purchased at a craft store to keep them from falling off. I thought it was a wonderful use of space that is usually forgotten, it was inexpensive to build and it really looked pretty good because of the way she adorned her picket fence (some had scrapbook stickers, others had fake ivy depending upon the decor). You could try to utilize wasted space by adding a few shelves here and there and just keep them. Being a book person myself, I completely understand the emotional attachment to your books. I have (literally) hundreds of books in my home, and that is scaled down from the thousands I used to own when i had my huge bookshelves. I am at full capacity as far as books go though, and have taken to trading the ones I don't feel the need to keep at a used bookstore. Our local goodwill is the place that I go to purchase books so I don't mind donating some occasionally.

    Bookmark   June 11, 2010 at 10:48PM
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I'm not sure why you have to give up your books or anything else that has emotional meaning for you (at least until you want to). I live in a small house (with only about twice your square footage) with my books, all 10,000+ of them. It's true that what I have to give up is other things (like free wall space to hang pictures, for instance), but obviously that isn't as important to me as my books and the shelve space they require.

As a decorative element, well-filled book shelves are very attractive and pull any room toether very nicely. IMO, they only start to look cluttered when the shelves are used to stow non-book stuff or have more than a very select few accessories. To me that's the definition of clutter: tchotchkes on shelves!

In your new apartment, you might consider having custom shelves made (or build them yourself). That way you can tailor the height of the shelves to the books, effectively fidning more room for the books. You can also make them a few inches deeper than the standard 12" and stow the books two deep (works very well with series paperbacks).

And no, I agree, plastic bags probably won't hold the books, so, liquor boxes are better. Take it from someone who has moved 10,00 books a few times, choose only the smallest boxes as more than a 12" cube of hardbacks is too heavy for easy carrying. Liquor boxes are tough, and some come in quite small but tall shapes so even large picture books will fit in nicely. Pack the books standing up, in preference to flat, in the boxes. Never pack the book with its fore-edges down, as it will damage the binding as the page block sags down unsupported. Fill the voids in the boxes with smaller, less treasured, paperbacks (or the cardboard dividers from the liquor boxes -very useful things!) and pack them full as opposed to somewhat loose unless your move is a very short distance and you won't be stacking the boxes. Never let the boxes of books be stored directly on a concrete floor; if they must be in a storage space with a concrete floor, set the boxes up on shipping pallets. Of course never store the boxes in an attic or a cellar, either. And label every box with what type of books are in it.

If you decide you still want to get rid of some of your books, you can try either the Bookcrossing website, or and offer to give them away to other interested readers. If you go to Librarything look for the Member giveaway book section (should be found in association with the early review book giveaway, IIRC). Librarything does have a modest fee to use the services if you catalog more than a few books, but I think you can catalogue just a few (to keep under the free-service limit), but still list as many as you want to give away.


    Bookmark   June 13, 2010 at 2:01AM
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I agree with finding different places to store them. If something means that much to me (which books are mine as well), I'd rather give up a ton of other things than my books. How about a platform bed that has shelving underneath. How about making a bench seat storing books underneath where it looks like a seat pad with a shelf under it. Put a bookcase in different rooms. Use really tall bookshelves, floor to ceiling or really skinny tall bookshelves. I have a wall of the same type. Buy shelving to fit different areas.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2010 at 9:08PM
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I have a ton of books. I finally pared down the collection by selling some to (mainly paperback versions of those classics we all were supposed to read in school), donated ones I wasn't going to read again (mysteries--what's the point?), and sold some to a 2nd hand book store here in LA.

And I finally realized that I wasn't going to use some for reference--old big art books (bad color printing--why bother?), out of date antiques guides, etc.

I read a lot, use my library card, and am thinking about a Kindle. There's just no point in saving every single book in the house.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2010 at 12:08PM
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"There's just no point in saving every single book in the house."

That's how I feel too!

I think it is so very sad to see books lined up, shelf upon shelf, case upon case, with no one opening them.
Books are meant to be read, not stockpiled.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2010 at 5:09PM
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Thank you for your input. I should give you some background. My husband recently died and as a result, I need to move to a much smaller place. The books I am getting rid of are the books hubby read that I or our children have either read or will not read. I have decided that it is pointless to hold onto the books for emotional reasons.

Since I will be entering a new phase in my life, I am really determined to live an uncluttered lifestyle. I have always loved having bookshelf upon bookshelf of books in the homes I've lived in and own very expensive bookcases to house them in. But the books represent a past life to me (I don't want to go into details on an organizing forum). I've been throwing out loads of stuff that are just not necessary to keep anymore. One thing I've noticed is that if someone is next to me, I can throw stuff out easily even without their input. But if I'm alone, I find myself questioning my decision to let go. I find that really weird.

A charity has been called and they will pick up the books. The rest will find a place in my new home (if there's room) or be put in the storage locker.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2010 at 7:54PM
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Marie, I'm so very sorry about the loss of your husband. Best of luck in your new home.

    Bookmark   June 14, 2010 at 11:35PM
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I'm so sorry for your loss. Don't feel it is weird about how having someone there helps you do the job. I believe that is well-described in all kinds of organizing and de-cluttering circles. Take advantage of it by thinking about and bringing in whomever you think could make a good de-cluttering companion--a friend, a high school student from a family you know, someone from church, someone who volunteers for one of the charities (library booster club and so on). You've already identified that the person doesn't necessarily need to participate in a super-active way, so you don't need a professional, but still some sort of peaceful, supportive presence.

    Bookmark   June 15, 2010 at 10:48AM
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I am so very sorry to hear of your loss. Of course you must do exactly as you wish regarding sorting through your things. Keep only what gives you pleasure, strength and comfort. However at least in my experience, mourning is not a static state, but instead an evolutionary one. So when in doubt, I'd suggest opting for storing (if at all possible) rather than outright discarding any thing that may become more important to either you or your children later on.

I understand and also feel it is often easier to have company when doing a big sort through, especially after a death in the family. It keeps one from getting too distracted and it certainly lightens the spirit which in turn makes the job at hand a great deal easier. To have a friend or family member willing to help, even if only by being present and helping with the labeling, or packing of things to be given away, is a wonderful blessing. When people ask the inevitable question "What can I do to help you", take them up on the offer and ask for this specific thing, even if for only a couple of hours company and solidarity while you do it. And of course, keep your own stints at this short and productive as your decision-making capacity is likely to be under pressure if you over-do it.

To those who see no purpose in saving books read long ago and see them as sad, left-over stuff:

I see your point, but would respond that for some (many?) booklovers the real pleasure of owning books is the uninterupted possibility of re-reading them several (or many) times over. I know some people never do that, so a good library (for borrowing or donating after reading) is the perfect solution. But for those of us with lifelong re-reading habits, there's no substitute for actually having the books on hand, to be reached for with pleasure and the confidence that they will work their magic, provide the answer or just remind one of long-ago delight. And though I have hundreds of feet of shelved books (egads, maybe as many as 1,000 feet given that 11 books per foot is about average shelving density for mixed hard and soft covers!) I can't quite see that as sad.

I read books several hours every day and rarely have fewer than a half a dozen books going at once, not counting the many other times per day I think of something I want to look up in a book to check a reference, finish a half-remembered quote or just share my mood in an old (printed) friend's company.

And in answer to the almost universal question when visitors see the books (and may be was in your mind when you read my posts about them): No, I have not read them all. But I share my house with an equally book-loving DH who owns about a 40% of them and our interests are somewhat different.


    Bookmark   June 16, 2010 at 2:45AM
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Dear Marie,

I've followed you (figuratively speaking) from Montana to the city where you now live, through the angst of sorting, packing, going to smaller homes, and trying to deal with it all. I'm so sorry to learn of your husband's passing.

I have no words of wisdom regarding your books, because I re-read some of mine over and over. If it is far enough in between, or I'm in a different place in my life, it is like a new book in many ways. Some of these 'old friends' are passed on, and when I'm ready to re-read Michener's "Chesapeake" for example, I can always find it used and didn't have to store it.

Know that you are in my prayers.


    Bookmark   June 16, 2010 at 12:35PM
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Good luck with your move; you seem determined to look forward and live in a more streamlined environment. Your memories will follow you and stay.

You'll probably feel lighter and liberated with your purging of books, keep us posted on your progress !

    Bookmark   June 30, 2010 at 6:40AM
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I finally divided up the books with those I'm keeping and gave the rest away to charity. There were about 14 boxes of books that were given away. The books were personally weighing me down as well as making it impossible to store in a new place. It feels so much better since I got them out of the house. The hardest part was making the decision and keeping to it.

Hubby also has a huge DVD and CD collection. My kids have taken those that they wanted that I didn't want to keep. But there's still quite a bit left. I'll pack up those I want to keep and I guess, try to sell the rest even though I know I'll be lucky if I make a couple of dollars for each one.

I suppose I should tackle this next. And then I'll pack up the books I'm taking with me to the next place.

Unfortunately, because of the condo strata, I'll have to wait until the third week in July to see if I get the apartment I want. But I've got to be out of this rental by July 31. I'll keep looking for another place in between now and then but I still have my hopes up for that one place, even though it's really small and I will have to keep getting rid of my stuff. Besides, the other condos I've seen in my price range are all about the same square footage but they're much older and some are quite nasty. I saw one place where the owner obviously didn't know how to make the place look if she wanted to sell it. It gave me a lesson on living with less because looking at clutter in a small apartment was a real turn off.

    Bookmark   June 30, 2010 at 11:28PM
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