When I was in high school I bought a copy of Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte. I had a small, particle board book case in my bedroom and I lovingly placed the book on it.
That was the beginning of my book obsession….er….collection.
Those were the days of $3 Bantam Classics. And the days of roaming the shelves at Barnes and Noble, trying to decide which book my $3 would buy. I mean, when I had to babysit a whole hour for that three bucks, I wanted to get something that counted.
My collection expanded and I was excited when I filled the shelf with treasures. Books, I might add, that I did read. At least once.
Zoom ahead a few years (or 20…depends on your definition of “few”). Yesterday I was looking at my book shelves (yes, there are multiple now), trying to find space for my 2015 Empty Shelf.
“I have too many books,” I whispered.
I immediately slapped my mouth, gasping at the obscenity I’d just muttered. Heresy! How can one have too many books?
I do. It’s true.
Many of the books I own are ones I won’t read again. They’re books I won’t recommend to my kids when they get old enough. A few of them are books that I most likely won’t read. Ever.
Last year, I determined to be the kind of reader who is choosy. I realized that the quality of what I read directly impacts the quality of what I write. For the sake of my craft, I need to stick to books that will make me stronger, better. I’ve also been acutely aware of the limits of time. I need to invest my reading hours in books that matter.
To be honest, there are many books on my shelves that are just not going to make the cut.
So, they need to go.
Do you realize how hard that is for me?
Last year I read a book called Satisfied by Jeff Manion (who just so happens to be my pastor). In the book, he writes about “lightening the load”. Reflecting on an exercise in getting rid of stuff he didn’t need/want/like, Jeff said, “Ironically, I feel richer for owning less.”
I have too many books. And too many of them are weighing me down. They aren’t doing me any good. So. To the boxes they go. Into the van. To the library. I’ll shut my eyes and pat the box one time before grabbing my tax form and walking away.
But I’ll feel lighter. And richer.
And I might just need a hug…and some chocolate.
Okay. Off to the book purge.