Monday, May 12, 2008

The bookkeeper

The title of this post refers to me, but it has nothing at all to do with numbers. Rather, it refers to my tendency to keep books around just because they're, well, books. They don't have to be particularly good books, but if there are pages bound between two covers, I have the dickens of a time getting rid of them.

I just counted fourteen sets of bookshelves in my den. They're all packed with books, and there are tall stacks of books sitting on top of the shelves and on top of my desk. These are all books that I've already read, some of them more than once and some of them that I don't remember at all.

Of course, I want to keep all the really good books to read again someday. And if I remember a book because of how much I didn't like it, I won't have a problem giving it away. My biggest concern is the books I've forgotten. I suppose I could reread them. They'd be new to me, at least in the beginning, but if they were forgettable the first time around, do I want to invest the time in them again? And how many pages of those forgettable books will I need to reread before I can make up my mind what to do with them?

I've taken the first step, which was getting some sturdy boxes to hold the books I plan to give away. I thought I'd sort the books into the boxes by genre, but once they're boxed up, I'm not sure what to do with them. Should I put the boxes on the front lawn with a sign that reads "free to a good home"? Does Goodwill take books? Any ideas, anybody?


  1. Is there a VA Hospital - or other hospital near you? They might like books.

  2. Velvet, Our local library has a store in the front. All donations go through the library. If it's a popular book and in demand, it goes into their system. If not, it goes to the store. They sell them fairly cheap and all proceeds go to raise money for the library.

    I agree with Javagirlbt. My mom goes to the VA hospital often and I'm sure they would appreciate. So does the Ronald McDonald House (New Orleans would be closest to you). They get lots of donations for kids books but they try to keep books on hand for parents that spend long hours waiting for their kids medical procedures. Nursing homes also frequently take them...

    I have the same issue... but I'm getting better.

  3. I have donated some to the library. They will go through and pick out what they want to keep and the rest are sold...all proceeds going to the library. I also have about 25 listed on to sell. I buy a lot of my books from that site...and have gotten some beautiful copies (first editions) for only a few dollars. You can also list them for sale on I have such a love of books, its almost like selling a close relative when I finally decide to let one go. I don't think I have as many as you, but its close. Out of all the books I own I only have one that holds the distinction of being read 3 times by me. Forever Amber by Kathleen Winsor. I just love that book! Its been enough years...its almost time for another read. But...right now I have a stack of 29 books waiting for me to read. So many little time. Sigh ~

  4. One good thing about memory loss as one ages is I can't remember how books turn out, so it's almost like reading them for the first time. ;-)

    The other day I was thinking about all the books I have upstairs. I was wondering if it was eccentric to have so many books, then I remembered reading an article in the paper a week or so ago about a grown man who claims to have "around" 900 Transformer robot toys-on shelves in his house, no less-(very likely he's not married), and I decided that having a lot of books is far less eccentric than having a lot of toys.

    My great-aunt's nursing home has a library. There's also church festivals which take things like books for their rummage sales.

  5. I have trouble letting go of books, too. However, I just sent 8 sacks-full to the Hospital Auxilliary. It feels almost like giving up a child, but, I'm telling myself that I haven't given or thrown them away, I've just relocated them.

  6. Velvet - I think the library or any hospital would be good recipients of your books. Maybe contact your chamber of commerce and ask their advice? When we moved Mom and Dad's books from their house I took an entire day with the books, keeping way too many - I had such a time parting with a book their hands had gone through. We opted for Goodwill primarily because they offered to pick the books up and we were otherwise overwhelmed with the rest of the contents. Still, many many boxes in my storage unit are filled with the books I had to keep. It will require a larger house before I can move them in!

  7. I'm with everyone else...donate them somewhere they will be appreciated! Carmon

  8. Donate them to your local library...take them down and drop them off. Now just to get my 2 cents in where you will not appreciate it… do not buy any more books. Go to your local library and borrow them. If they do not have them they will get the ones you are wanting. I think the library is the greatest thing ever thought of. It allows anyone no matter how poor to be able to read any book they choose. My husband buys hundreds of romance novels and I do mean hundreds. He keeps these books and will never read them again. He says the library does not have any good books..... He says Wal-Mart has a better selection…He is a stupid man!

  9. Velvet--

    Here is what not to do. Do not gather all the books you are prepared to part with into two huge crates and drive them to a discount book seller that has a big sign in their windows proclaiming "WE BUY USED BOOKS". We are getting ready to move into a smaller home with less room for our multitudes of books and had to part with some of the books. I spent a few days going through each volume, agonizing, painfully selecting the ones that were to be sold. At least, I thought, we would make some change to help us as we prepare to move.

    Two huge crates of books: Four dollars. It wasn't painful enough that we had to lighten our bookcases-- but the precious pages were only collectively valued at four-hundred cents. I felt like I had been scammed into giving away such a valuable treasure.

    I wish I had just donated them.

  10. Velvet, I give them to my daughter who sells them in her hair salon and some of her customers come in for books rather than hair cuts! I get $2.00 for a soft cover and $4.00 each for a hard coverr book. This gives me some chump change to buy more books! I keep the ones I truly want to read again and my collections of certain authors but otherwise get rid of them as soon as I read them. If you go to a used book store only take an armload at a time. You will get more money if you take in less books (I don't know why). If you really want to donate them, give them to the library or maybe a retirement home, they always appreciate recent books.

  11. Thank you all for your good suggestions. I'm not sure what I'll do yet, but it's nice to have some options. Now all I have to do is load those boxes.

    4th Sister's suggestion that I go to the library is probably the best idea for avoiding the book-overload problem in the future. I, however, not being the most practical person, have begun to read about's Kindle. Do you know anyone who has one?


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