Old Books – Give Them Away or Shelve the Idea?

Andrea Freedman

For those of you who read my May 13, 2013 post The Library My New Book Store, as I have previously mentioned, although I still am just as avid a reader as I always have been, I have not actually purchased a new book for quite some time.

Recently, while on a mad rampage to de-clutter our home, I was faced with a dilemma when it came time to decide whether or not to sell some of the many, many existing books I had collected over the years. I could not imagine which books I would be able to bring myself to get rid of first, if any.

Nevertheless, in my continuing quest to survive as a proverbial starving writer, and in a temporary lapse in judgement, I thought I would kill two birds with one stone by getting rid of my enormous pile of dust-collecting books, as well as scraping together a few extra dollars by selling them to the used book store across the street.

After decades of reading and collecting books, they could no longer be contained on our large book shelf and had begun to overflow onto tables and dressers. Things were getting out of control and I did not know where to begin. As I walked over to the bookshelf, large bag in hand which I intended to fill with used books, I realized this was going to be a much more difficult task than I had originally thought it would be.

I had always been someone who hesitated to even lend books, never mind giving them away or selling them. If someone ever told me “Oh, sorry, I lent your book to a friend of mine,” I would secretly seethe inside.

Filled with doubt, off I went to the local used book store weighed down by my bag of books; after all, I tried to reason with myself, I had no intention of re-reading any of them, no matter how much I may have enjoyed reading them the first time.

However, when I really thought about it, selling my entire collection of books, which I had amassed over so many years, may yield me just enough money to purchase three or four new books at best. I might be able to stave off a bill-collector for one more month, but then what? After I inevitably decide to use that money to “treat myself”, will what I gave up really be worth it?

I would probably end up eventually starting a new book collection all over again, most likely regretting the one I had already given up. What’s next, selling all my old CDs and getting rid of the music in our home? I wondered what I would do the next time I felt like closing the blinds and dancing.

Giving anything away, I find, sometimes requires a deep breath and a practical, unsentimental attitude. But if we get rid of everything that means something to us, what then will there be left to set us or the character of our homes apart from others’?

With today’s e-readers and online publications, actual printed books are a dying breed. I asked myself how I could in all good consciousness contribute to the new cold, culture of constant down-sizing and the no-nonsense way of reading and hope to have my own novel published one day, displayed on the shelves of bookstores and in readers’ homes.

I hesitated before going up to the counter. I wondered what else I could get rid of instead of my books. I guess I needed to go through the motions of gathering up my books and bringing them to the store; once the reality of what I was about to do set in, I turned around and walked out of the shop with my full bag of books in tow. I decided, at least for the time being, to hold onto them.

I am sure if I look hard enough I will find something else I no longer need that I can sell or give away. It may turn out to be an item of greater monetary value but its worth will not equal nearly as much as those books.

Books add warmth to a room and can actually enhance a home’s décor rather than deter from it. They can be conversation starters and they can say as much about a person as a sterile, unlived-in looking house can.

No matter how much I want to de-clutter, there are some possessions I realize I just can’t part with. The price of certain items extends far beyond only their fiscal value, and that some things, even if they do take up space and even if they could be exchanged for a little money, are still worth keeping, even if they have to be dusted off occasionally.♦

Copyright © by Andrea Freedman 2013

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About andfreed

I am a Toronto based writer of articles, columns, essays and novels.

Posted on June 13, 2013, in Weekly Thoughts and Observations and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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