Today, Danica and I finally put together the first bookcase we’ve purchased since moving to New Hampshire. In Oregon, we had a library with a lot of bookcases, all filled to the brink. Really, too many, and we didn’t do a great job of paring down before moving. Consequently, we have tons of boxes full of books in the cellar (they don’t call ’em basements out here). The house is a bit smaller, with no library, so we’re going to be… more selective with what goes up on shelves. And we’ll probably have to do some donating eventually, too, but that’s a job for a much later date.
The question is this: what qualifies a keeper? And secondly, what makes you want to put it on a shelf and not in a box? Three things, for me. First, is it something I’m going to read, either for the first time or again? Second, does it have some nostalgic value to you? And third, does it provide some reference utility? If it doesn’t match one of those three, then it’s certainly not going on a shelf, and yeah, should probably be ejected from my orbit of “stuff”.
Marie Kondo (“The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up”) said books are the hardest one, and I completely agree. Books have more physic heft than most objects, each one usually representing some part of your life, some mode of thinking, some learning, or even epiphanies you might have had. Letting go of those physical manifestations of the past is a bit like a historical lobotomy.
But… stuff is just stuff. You’re almost always better letting go.