I really haven’t solved the question of how to let books go.
Some of you may remember the picture I posted a while ago of my bookcase, overflowing with books. And you may remember that I ended up simply buying another bookcase instead of letting any of the original books go.
Well… some months on… my husband and I are in a wild de-cluttering frenzy at the moment, in part because we’d like to move house by the end of this year and our rationale has become ‘if we were to move house tomorrow, would we take this with us?’
The main bookcase has long been in need of de-cluttering but we’ve managed to do wild cleaning out of the kitchen pantry, cupboards, the shed and various drawers, each day passing stressful eyes over the bookcase, which has sat there silently, reminding us to do something about it. (We couldn’t even open the doors safely for the books that came hurtling out towards us.)
Yesterday, we finally did something. And we talked a lot about the process and just why is was so damn hard to let a book–any book–go from our life. We love books. We value books. We treasure books. We see books as artworks, repositories of wisdom and knowledge. But it’s more than that. Every book we’ve read becomes a part of us. And we become a part of that book. We give a piece of ourself to the book and the book becomes a piece of us. Letting go of a book is like letting go of a friend, a memory, a sensory experience.
What do you do with the books that you re-read every few years or so? Or the books that you adored but will probably never read again but still can’t stand to let go? Or the novels that you probably won’t read again but you feel you should keep ‘just in case’ you need them as references when writing your own stories? Or the books from childhood that shaped your imagination and spirit but that are literally falling apart and mouldy?
The de-cluttering resulted in three massive horse-feed bags filled with novels and non-fiction to be donated and a whole lot of space left in our precious bookcase for more gifts to come into our life. But it didn’t happen without vigorous debate, considerable angst and even some tears. It was a deeply emotional experience. Letting go of a book is not just letting go of a ‘thing’; it’s letting go of a living energy.
I still don’t know how to do it. We just did it as best we could: messily, angrily, sadly, and hopefully.
The only bright side in saying goodbye to these friends is that new ones will soon be here.