Sunday, January 10, 2010

How Does a Book Earn a Place on Your Bookshelf?

It's no secret, I love books. I love to be surrounded by books and even though I work in a library and am with books all day long, I love visiting bookstores and building my personal library at home. But with a small one bedroom apartment, the start of my blog and book reviewing, and attending ALA, my bookshelves have become very crowded! My husband is always encouraging me to weed my book collection and get rid of books, but I have such a hard time doing it!

But I love to buy books and it's an addiction I can't seem to stop! The shelves keep growing and getting fuller. My bookshelves were becoming so full I was feeling incredibly overwhelmed and I knew I had to do something about it. I made myself do some serious weeding on Saturday after yet another trip to Borders that brought back four new books. So I used the following as my criteria for keeping a book:

-Is it something I read and enjoyed? How much did I love it? Will I re-read it?
(I had to decide if it was a forever favorite and would I want to read it again if I had to chance? This was hard because I always think I'll re-read books, but never have the time.)

-Is it one I want to share it with friends/family?
(I love sharing books with my friends and family, so if it was one I would eagerly pass on, I kept it.)

-What are my chances (really) of reading this in the next year?
(I had books that I had bought five-six years ago and still hadn't read! So they got put in the giveaway pile.)

-If I was asked to give a booktalk to tweens/teens using only the books on my shelf, do I have books that I would want to share?
(Yes, I can always check out books from the library, but sometimes the books I want to booktalk aren't available and I like to have a stash at home I can pull from on short notice.)

I made two piles-books to take to work to share with my teens and books to sell/giveaway. I ended up with 46 books (and 4 of my husbands) weeded out of our collection. I'm feeling much more positive about my bookshelves right now and now I have room to buy the ones I fall in love with this year and want to own. Someday I'll have that Beauty and the Beast library, but until then, books have to earn their place on my bookshelf.

So how does a book earn it's place on your bookshelf? Do you keep everything you read or do you weed out your book collection?

30 comments:

  1. Not sure yet -- but I imagine I'll have to establish some criteria. I'm getting ready for a major weed of my personal library myself.

    It's going to be painful, I can feel it already.

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  2. I can't make myself let go of the books I own. It's an addiction. I remember when mom gave off some of my books I no longer read, I cried for days :)But with the number of books piling in my room as well as in the spare bedroom it's time I did some sorting too..

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  3. Ah, the Beauty and the Beast library! Now that WOULD be nice. I keep 95% of the books I buy. Like you, I know there are some books that I'll probably never get round to reading, and they're the first ones to go. Add to that the 'popcorn' books, enjoyable but not very filling. It still pains me to get rid of ANY books though. More shelves please!

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  4. wow! SOunds like a lot of thought went into it. I really think that that would have been WAY too hard for me. If I like a book, I HAVE to keep it, right?

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  5. I keep everything, unless I hated it. I have dreams of someday having a huge house where I can set aside a room to be my own personal library.

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  6. I think I'll be doing some weeding soon, too (painful as that may be). Although libraries usually benefit as I donate the books.

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  7. I have the same issue. I have three bookcases and I try not to overflow, so I have to weed occasionally. I have two things I do to keep it under control. 1. Since I work in a Library, I read all books there first and then only go to the bookstore to buy ones that I really loved. No impulse buying! 2. I weed anything that I would not reread if I had to right that minute. That way I keep myself from hanging onto books I didn't really like in the first place. Good luck with your weeding!!

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  8. I also find it so hard to give up books. If I really dislike a book it goes to the BookMooch pile. Other than that though, I find I have to go through fairly regularly to try to weed out the less liked books to make room for new ones.

    I tend to keep more non-fiction, series, and favorites. I do so hate to give any up though!

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  9. I'm glad I'm not the only one who finds weeding out books hard! It's easy for me to do at the library-because most times it's old and looks bad. But at home, I have a personal connection to that book!
    I do need to stop impulse buying books and read them at the library first!

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  10. I don't have hard and fast criteria - it is more of a "gut" thing for me. In general, I have bought books that were part of a series because I wanted to keep the series going. Lately I have been more reluctant to buy, especially if the next book was hardcover. There are certain authors I buy automatically. As far as books I keep once I have bought them, series books are usually kept unless I am giving up on the series as a whole. I also keep books that move me in a special way where I know I will read them again. Good question!

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  11. I've been collecting books probably for several decades longer than you, and so all I'll say is that the problem doesn't go away, it grows! My hubbie thinks I should get rid of most of my collection, but it's sooooooo hard to decide which to keep, and which to donate.

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  12. I recently weeded out about 25 books out of my kids' bookshelves (to make room for more!) I save so many because I know the younger ones will enjoy the older books eventually. I have two boys and one girl, so mostly I took out the princessy books my daughter grew out of and the baby board books out of my youngests. It's hard to let go!

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  13. Jaymie-My husband is a hardcover snob and likes to collect his favorites in hardcover (when possible). He only buys he absolute favorite books too, where I want to buy everything!

    Catherine-It is terribly hard. I feel bad getting rid of books and I never know what to do with them or who to donate them to. Since I have a lot of MG/YA I'm going to give a bunch to a children's shelter in my parent's hometown.

    Kelly-I have this horrible habit of keeping books for "someday when I have children." I don't have kids yet and when I do, I know I'll want to buy so much more!

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  14. I just did a major weed of my books, I got rid of four giant cardboard boxes, all donated to the library where I work (except for the ones my friends stole). I pulled out books I knew I was pretty sure I was never going to read again, books that fell into the "what was I thinking when I bought this" category. When the time finally came to drop off the books, I was a little shaky, and did pull one paperback out and take it back home. Now that I am moving I will most likely have to do it again, sigh.

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  15. I used to be a major book hoarder... until my husband and I moved into a junior one-bedroom apartment. When I was really forced to weed because of space, I found that I prefer the idea of a library that is more reflective of me as a reader and less what I was able to beg/borrow/steal/get as a freebie. So I pared down a lot of the random nonfiction and contemporary fiction that had fallen into my lap, but kept books in genres that I love: poetry, children's & young adult books, fantasy & science fiction, nonfiction about books, writing, and sociology, and graphic novels. Becoming a heavy library user in a good public system helped with this, as did becoming a middle school librarian... it's easier to pass up a book when you know it's sitting on nearby shelves that feel like an extension of your own.

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  16. I have weeded books in the past but currently have books stacked on the floor because there is not sufficient shelf space. I can't seem to get my husband interested in building new shelves.

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  17. I weed it out. If I can see myself wanting to read it again, then I'll keep it. Otherwise it gets donated or used as a giveaway.

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  18. My major criteria is whether or not I'm likely to reread the book. I have had some books that I've given away, only to find myself purchasing them again when I wanted to reread them.

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  19. I'm cheating at the moment. I live in a too small apartment that couldn't even begin to hold the books I have at my parents' house. Once my boyfriend finishes law school and we move into a bigger apartment/one where rent money pays for apartment space instead of the name of the town I'm going to have to apply some sort of criteria for books to earn their places. Kudos to you on actually doing it and getting rid of such a large number!!

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  20. I used to have a book-buying policy that I only bought books that I had read before and absolutely loved (put into effect when I was a poor college student), but in recent years I've been a lot more likely to pick up and try out several books at one go as long as they were cheap paperbacks. But the end result is that my shelves were overflowing with paperbacks, some of which I loved and want to keep, and some I wouldn't mind getting rid of. I ended up signing up at paperbackswap.com, where you can trade paperbacks you don't want anymore with people who have titles you're interested, for the cost of postage. It doesn't result in any fewer books, since I get a book for every one I send out, but at least it refreshes my shelves and gets rid of some of the stuff I really don't want (hopefully for something better).

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  21. Weeding out books? People actually do that? man, I know I should go through my books. On many of my shelves I've started to stack books horizontally on top of the vertical ones. bad bad me. I buy books on the pretense that I will use them in my future classroom (2.5 years and counting!). A good portion of my books are goodwill finds. I don't buy a lot of new books, only if I really loved it. Most of my YA and "grown-up" reads I get from the library. My hope is that once I do have a classroom, several shelves and boxes will be empty.

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  22. I love the way you have taken a look at your library and the purpose for the books you chose. For me I have two criteria, is it something I really want to read, (Can't live without) and second is it something I really want to recommend to my students. You have given me a lot to think about

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  23. I had to go through the same things...I went through the books I hadn't read in years and gave them away....mostly nonfiction but it ended up being about 60% of my books, and I'm slowly getting my libary back.

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  24. I keep very few books-most of mine are donated to my public library, since I work there I know how horribly out dated our young adult section is-Bobbsey Twins anyone?

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  25. Books have to earn a spot on my shelf, definitely. My parents put their house on the market, so every time I've gone over there over the past couple of months, they make me take a box of my books with me. It's fun rediscovering some of my old favorites, but if it's not a particular favorite or one I want to lend to my friends, off it goes to the Friends of the Library! I periodically go through my shelves of books I've reviewed and donate things to our library and/or our teen group. I love books, yes, but I am a big proponent of weeding!

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  26. I hold onto my favorites forever. The rest I hold onto for a few months to a year. Once a year, I make a big donation to the public library.

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  27. This is so hard for me because I have a really hard time letting books go. They're like my babies. So I think I have a more rigorous BUYING process than shelving process. I will almost never buy a book I haven't read before. That has just led to some tragic circumstances. I have a couple of books I haven't read and I've had them for 2-3 years. I feel so bad for them. It's like I don't love them.

    But even then, I only have so many (current) bookshelves. So rereadability is a definite factor. If it captured me on every level then it definitely has a place of honor on my shelves. :)

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  28. There are some books I just want to hold, kind of hug (yes I am a nerd). You know, when you've finished reading something and you sigh, and you hug it, and you daydream about the best parts for a while before you put it down? Those are the books I have to own. I'm getting a lot better about not buying EVERYTHING I vaguely want. Book that I cannot believe I still haven't bought (just read via ARC): Graceling. It is a hug-worthy book, absolutely.

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  29. Shelf Elf-I so know what you mean about hugging books! Those are the books I want to keep for sure.

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  30. I used to buy about 50% of the books I read when I was single. Once I got married, I stopped buying books. My husband is not a reader so he doesn't see a reason to have a large shelf of fiction when you can use the library. After 20 years of marriage I have wholeheartedly adopted his attitude. The only books I buy are reference material like knitting books and cookbooks.

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