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Sunday Salon: Purge-tacular

April 5, 2009

The Sunday Salon.comI finally did it. I’ve been talking about it for months – ever since my TBR pile crested 200, in fact – but I finally did it. Yesterday morning I took a big ol’ box of unread (and some read) books to the public library, to be donated to the booksale. (Which is where at least half of them came from in the first place – so I basically paid a dollar apiece to rent them for three years.)

I’m moving this summer, and the idea of packing up my belongings – plus general spring-cleaniness – is making me want to get rid of some of the *stuff* that accumulates in life… and I decided to start with books. I took a good, hard look at my TBR pile, and anything that had been on it unread for over three years, anything that I wasn’t sure how it had gotten onto the pile in the first place, anything that was only there because I felt like I *should* read it, and anything that I didn’t particularly care for other books in the same series/by the same author, all of those were in jeopardy. If it failed the “Do I actually *want* to read this some time in the future?” test, out it went.

I wound up knocking 28 books off my TBR pile – plus another 5 that I wanted to donate but couldn’t find, making me suspect that they got purged some time ago, but I forgot to update my LT catalog accordingly. Basically, yesterday morning I just negated the entire month of February. I’m still not under 200, but it was a sizeable step in the right direction.

I’ve also alleviated some of the book-acquisition guilt from Friday. Bookcloseouts is a terrible, evil site, and I shouldn’t be allowed anywhere near their $1.99 fiction sale, particularly on nights when I’ve had more than one cocktail. :-D

22 Comments leave one →
  1. April 5, 2009 9:51 am

    Wow! I am proud of you! First of all, the fact that you have a structured TBR list to begin with. If you think about it, you are making a good donation to your library, too. I need to take your lead and do the same. You can enjoy your
    Sunday in peace. :)

  2. April 5, 2009 10:03 am

    Wow, good for you. I really think I ought to do this, but the idea of giving books away kinda makes me shudder – what if I NEED that book for some reason in the future? =)

  3. April 5, 2009 10:47 am

    Good for you! A purge is coming up at my house soon too…

  4. liz (aka Conan) permalink
    April 5, 2009 10:48 am

    I used to ‘need’ books, I would stand in front of my shelves and ask myself “where do I want to go tonight”! I have since learned that working in several libaries and having serveral librarians within your evil power, also knowing the log in to our public libraries interlibrary loan site so you can place requests for youself … well it’s almost as good and a whole lot cheaper and easier to store! So good on you for off loading and I envy your TBR pile and have not yet counted mine, as … well … many are on the shelf just waiting for me!

  5. April 5, 2009 10:50 am

    I love how you referred to your purge of books and their return to the library as “renting” them. How true! :)

    Happy Sunday. And good for you on your clean up. I’m still procrastinating.

  6. silverseason permalink
    April 5, 2009 11:14 am

    You are not purging, you are recycling. It is a virtuous act. Besides, if you do to as many used-book sales as I do, many of these books will turn up again.

  7. April 5, 2009 12:26 pm

    My solution to my inclination to horde has been to limit myself to two bookshelves: one for TBR and one for Ready to Pass Along. When TBR gets too full, I am forced to move some TBR to RPA. When RPA is full, I can easily and actively pass along those so designated.

  8. April 5, 2009 3:02 pm

    I am impressed you could give up some books, you are definitely braver than me.

  9. April 5, 2009 4:29 pm

    I need to give up some books! I admire your courage, and hope I can do a similar purge soon!

  10. April 5, 2009 4:37 pm

    I did the same thing at the end of last year, and I’ll do the same at the end of this year. I think the 3-year rule is a good one.

    Now I’m off to check out bookcloseouts. I never heard of that site before.

  11. April 5, 2009 4:58 pm

    Go you! You are far braver than I am. I’m currently in the middle of moving, and the whole painful process makes me hate my books a little bit. But not enough to do a purge…not yet :P

  12. April 5, 2009 7:01 pm

    Wow, twenty-eight books! I’ve knocked off maybe five or six here and there, but I’ve never been able to do a large-scale purge of la TBR. I’m too worried that I’ll desperately want to read that one particular book someday, and I won’t be able to get my hands on it anymore.

  13. April 5, 2009 7:11 pm

    I seem unable to purge my books. I do, however, have quite the stack in a closet that are ready to leave the house eventually, when I get up the courage. ;-)

  14. April 5, 2009 7:40 pm

    I’m so impressed! I keep bringing more and more into my house.

  15. April 5, 2009 8:23 pm

    Good for you, Fyrefly! My problem is I’ll take my purges to a great local bookstore and bring back books in trade!

  16. April 5, 2009 9:39 pm

    Literate Housewife – The structured and countable TBR pile is courtesy of my LibraryThing tags. :)

    Elizabeth – I had to repeat over and over again that these were not the last copy of the book in existence, in case I decided tomorrow that I NEEDED it.

    Lenore – Good luck with that!

    liz – I’m a hoarder. Knowing I can get the book from the library just isn’t quite the same as having it immediately to hand on the shelves.

    christina – Oh, I’m certainly procrastinating the *rest* of my cleaning. :)

    silverseason – All the more reason to keep a record of them, or else I’ll probably go “oooh, that looks good, I should buy it and maybe I’ll read it!”

    debnance – Ack! The thought of having books that I’ve already read be “ready to pass along” is horrifying my inner pack-rat. They’re my books! Mine! My Preciouses!

    vivienne – Not that brave, I had to have a friend talk me into actually putting the boxes into the car and driving to the library. :)

    Amy – Good luck with that! Maybe start small… two or three books?

    CB James – I did keep some unread books that are older than 3 years… Stephen Jay Gould essay collections, mostly. As for Bookcloseouts… don’t say I didn’t warn you….

    Nymeth – I’ve got a bunch more books that I’m going to stash at my parent’s house before I move… they’re my off-site storage until the day when I actually have a house that has room for more than two bookcases.

    Memory – Hardest to go was an edition of a book that’s out of print (the author’s “preferred” edition), and took me forever to… but I really didn’t care for the first book in the series, so despite the fact that the second one was hard to find, I figured it find was time to let it go. Maybe someone else who will enjoy it more has been struggling to find it, too.

    Kristen – I think mine was less courage and more guilt over recent acquisitions. But identifying the books to go is a big step!

    bermudaonion – Oh, I do too. This month is going to be the first time in YEARS that the net change to the TBR pile is negative.

    Gavin – Heh, I don’t believe I ever said I left the library booksale empty-handed after dropping my books off. ;)

  17. April 6, 2009 6:41 am

    ooh, the pain, I can feel it from here! My library has a note up at present – “we are currently not accepting donations”

  18. April 6, 2009 9:07 am

    Kerrie – Really? I guess I could see that if they didn’t have an associated booksale, and were tired of people dumping old books that were too ratty to go into circulation.

  19. April 7, 2009 12:50 am


    I remember that feeling when I got the courage up to purge another batch. Feels so good…

    I’ve since converted to using just the library and keeping a spreadsheet of what I want to read. When I’m tempted to buy a book, I add it to my spreadsheet instead. It will be at the library for me when I’m ready. :-)

  20. Photoman permalink
    April 8, 2009 11:14 pm

    Purging is good for the cleansing the body and soul and also good for the back when moving.

  21. April 10, 2009 11:29 pm

    Kelly – I really should use the library more, but there’s just something indescribable about having so many happy friendly books immediately to hand.

    Photoman – I sense an ulterior motive here.

  22. May 1, 2009 4:34 pm

    I’m really late to this but yay you! I purged viciously when I painted the house. Life’s too short to keep books that you know you’re not going to want to read around. Make room for more. :)

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