Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Culling the book collection - with Natalie Anderson

In two weeks we're moving house for the third time in less than three years. It's not so bad this time, we have professional packers coming in to box everything up and truck it for us. So all I have to do before they walk in the door is declutter.

Some stuff is easy to get rid of - the toys the kids have outgrown, the clothes I've outgrown (LOL), the things that are broken and chipped, the old school uniforms...

But some things are SO much harder!

I'm sure this won't surprise you, but we're a book family. We have a TON of books. We all have at least one big bookcase each in our bedrooms (there are six of us) plus extras in the lounge and dining room. Added to that I have books in crates out in the garage. The copies of my own books are kept in boxes under my bed and in crates in my wardrobe and cupboards above. There are books everywhere.

Even worse, half our library is in storage! That first move we put bookcases and a ton of books into a lock-up. So we have those to come back to as well. Even though I haven't even seen those books for two and a half years, I know I can't bear to part with any of them. We tried that before putting them away in the first place! And we're going back to our home-town so those books will be coming out....

I've tried to thin the children's books now my youngest (the twins) are coming up five and ready for school... but of course, all those lovely little picture books with a single line on each page are perfect for emergent readers... so I didn't donate many at all.

So, clearly I need some help. How do you decide which books you simply HAVE to keep? How do you manage a spiraling collection?

In order to help me cull my collection even just a little, I'd love to give away a copy of my R*BY finalist book, HOT BOSS, BOARDROOM MISTRESS to someone who can give me their best 'moving house' advice!

With very best wishes,


Kandy Shepherd said...

Natalie, I am a hopeless book hoarder myself so can't offer much advice! I think e-readers will help people like ourselves, digital hoarding is so much more space efficient.
Good luck with your move.

Nas Dean said...

Hi Natalie,

I pass my books onto the public library and the school libraries in my area. But still I have a keeper shelf and it's full!

But trying to share my love of reading with other people gives me huge satisfaction.

EllenToo said...

That is a problem neither my parents~who move with us kids all over the place~nor myself ever figured out and every book we had moved with us. The only books we ever managed to part with were the books given to my brothers kids or those inadvertantly left behind when we moved.

debbie said...

I had a problem when we moved from South Africa to New Zealand and we could only take a few keepsakes. We kept books that were given to us as gifts, books that were autographed and books that held a particular special memory...we ended up with heaps of books but managed to give away quite a bit more...mostly to close friends and family. Why don't you just start your own library!

Melanie Milburne said...

Natalie, my house is sagging under the weight of books. I dread ever having to move! Books are like old friends that have followed you through various stages of your life. You can't just throw them away!

ev said...

When I do find the courage to cull- books that I read and were ok, but not going to read again mostly, I end up donating to one of two places- our local VA and Fisher house and then Red Robin Restaurants who send books to the troops.

All of these places have a large female population- the VA with families and now women Vets (have any of you ever really looked at what is there to read? Not much romance, lots of history and war stories), Fisher house is the same- families staying close by to their loved ones in the VA, much like Ronald McD houses. And overseas, they just all need something new to read, even if it's not a new book.

Knowing where these books are going makes it so much easier for me to part with. Even much loved books knowing that someone else will find it and hopefully fall in love with them too.

julian said...

Well, same situation here. My bed room is full of container, bookshelves, cartoons. I'm a type who can't rid books. My mom keeps on complaining:" Look! Your room is simillar to storage room" Lol. But, I try to maintain to arrange those in my medium-sized room. Unfortunately, I don't have library so I have to manage it in either my bed room or my parents' room cause theirs are much bigger than mine.
Hopefully, it can help

Pat Cochran said...

If you get a good suggestion, please
share! I'm currently converting what
was once the girls' bedroom, and then
a playroom for the grandchildren, into
my own personal library and memorabilia
display room. That reminds me, I need
to order two more bookcases to go with
the current three! Good Luck!

Kaelee said...

Sorry I can't offer any hints. I do need to start getting rid of some myself.I'll always have a book filled house. My basement contains boxes of older HP and HR that came from my mom's place After she died part of her collection moved to my place the other part is still at her old place where my younger brother now lives. I'm sure he would love to send the rest home with me but I'll have to find some room for them.

I'm just thinking that some charity will have a lot of books donated to them in the future when i leave my home for whatever reason.

Jo's Daughter said...

Oh I'm terrible at getting rid of books. I'll tell you why:

One dark day in the past I cleared out my bookcase and donated a bunch of them to charity. By accident three books from Lauren Royal got donated. Which I REALLY wanted to keep and read again.

I've tried to get them back at that perticular sale, but they were not there. I've been looking ever since at jumble sales, charity markets, second hand shops whatever... But they seemed to have dissappeared from the earth. Or all the lucky ladies that still have copies don't wish to part with them.

So ever since I've become a hoarder, afraid to get rid of stories I don't want to part with. I think the best tip is: invest in large bookcases & use them as decoration for the house. This way you get to keep your treasures close by.

scarlet wilson said...

Your post sent a shiver down my spine - and not in a good way!
I'm a hoarder too, I've actually reached the stage of hiding new books that I buy in case my other half sees them!
He gave me a rule last year that for every book I buy I have to put one out. I single handedly keep the local charity shop in business! However, I am well aware that when I'm old and grey and needing visits from the district nurse she won't be able to get in my house for all the piles of books!

marybelle said...

Make lists. Label boxes very well. Don't say NO to any offers of help. Keep a box of essentials with you as in my experience the moving van always gets lost & you will need a cup of tea upon arrival at the new home.

Natalie Anderson said...

Hi Kandy - yes, I agree with you on e-readers - in theory. I must admit because I *work* on a computer, I like to relax and read away from one - so I prefer paper over ebooks at this stage!
Thanks for the luck - I'm so glad we have professional packers!

Natalie Anderson said...

Nas -you're so right to give them away... my problem is half the books I'm hanging onto in the hopes my kids will want to read them one day... I should just get over that and think of the library!

Natalie Anderson said...

Ellen - I think we might be like your family - hubby and I TRY but we end up only getting rid of about one or two from a whole shift!

Natalie Anderson said...

Debbie - I totally LOVE the idea of a library - I even have a masters in library studies! ;) No wonder I have a problem.... but its the space issue of course!

Natalie Anderson said...

Melanie - I so agree, I can't throw them out - I can donate a very few, but it seems sacrilegious to think of binning any! And yes, you can see the cover of a book and a memory is instantly brought to mind - old friends indeed :)

Natalie Anderson said...

Ev - they sound fantastic places to donate books - that's awesome :)

Natalie Anderson said...

Julian - its so funny in't it - we don't mind having crates of book in the wardrobe even when it means there isn't much room for clothes - priorities! ;)

Natalie Anderson said...

Oh Pat - how lovely to be converting a room into a library!!!!! I've always had a fantasy about having a library - I want one with a mezzanine balcony level going around the edge and a curling wrought iron staricase in the corner to get to it... ok, that's straight out of a movie... I think it might have been My Fair Lady... hmmm, I think I need to win the lottery! ;)

Natalie Anderson said...

Kaelee - I'm the same, I have my Grandmothers collection of ANCIENT M&B - but I will NEVER get rid of them - they're absolute classics!!! Gorgeous covers :)

Natalie Anderson said...

Jo'd Daughter - oh, shivers down my spine - SO heartbreaking to lose much loved books like that. My worst book loss is a signed copy of JK Rowling's Harry Potter & The Prisoner of Azakban... I was fortunate enough to meet her at the Edinburgh book festival years ago (I stood in a queue for ages) - I still have the first two signed, but I'm still gutted about losing that one... So yes, I hoard. And I refuse to lend truly precious ones - not out of the house!

Natalie Anderson said...

So Jo's Daughter for typo-ing you! :)

Scarlet - that's funny about your other half - I have a different problem in that my other half is as bad as I am... we're just hopeless together, books littered everywhere!

Natalie Anderson said...

Ugh that would be SORRY Jo's Daughter! It's getting late here :)

Marybelle - you're so right - we have to have that box of essentials in the car with us rather than in the truck.
At this rate I'm thinking I'm going to need IV chocolate on arrival at the new place! ;)

Brigitte said...

Don't ask me. I'm like the rest of you - a hoarder!! E-books are quite the answer, but I still read paper books, especially of my favourite authors. Can't get myself to buy e-books, there.

Actually I'm in dire need of a room that I can transform into a library.

As for children's books, I kept the really special ones, the ones I read a lot to them when they were little. I've asked my children to sort out all the rest and let them decide which to keep and which to give away. I was surprised at their choices.

Those I don't keep go to a charity where people not as fortunate as me are able to buy books for a small amount.

Laney4 said...

I guess I should get in line. I still have tons of books around here that I've read (and not read yet).

I ask my girlfriends to come over to my "library" of books I've read, and they take whatever books they want. They in turn pass them on to their parents, who distribute them at their retirement residences, so even more people can enjoy the books!

I have a list of which authors over a dozen of my friends enjoy, and I give them those books automatically. One time I won a book from one of those authors, so I asked that it be signed in her name instead of mine. OMG, did my friend ever enjoy that one!

I absolutely love sharing my books with friends and family, and I know they appreciate it too. We all have things that are "our things", and giving books is one of mine. One of theirs (and mine also) is to share freebies we get, such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, floss, shampoo, deodorant, perfume, calendars, and even chocolate (sometimes ).

Getting back to the books, I photocopy the cover and back blurb of each book I finish. I write down when I read it, and what I liked (or didn't like) about said book. In that way, I can blog about the good things - because when I read over 250 books a year, I tend to forget without the visual cue (and often the books are gone from here so I can't go back to look). As for those books I didn't especially like, I still will read another book from that author, in case it was a fluke for me. In fact, I have read 10 books from one of my favorite authors, and I didn't "love" 2 of them like I "loved" the other 8. Go figure!

Laney4 said...

Oh! I forgot to tell you to take my name out of your draw please, as I already have this book in my TBR pile! Have a great day!

Lolarific said...

I book hoard too. There's just something about having the physical book that reminds you of the story inside when you glance over it.

I haven't come to the point to need to thin my collection down yet, but I know the day will come. For now I seem to have become a small personal library for my friends. I recommend and loan out books left and right. When I have to thin down I'll pick out some of my least favorites and let my friends all take some, that way if I wish to re-read one all I have to do is ask to borrow it.

If I ever win the lottery my first investment would be a bigger house that would include a library room!

desere_steenberg said...

Hi Natalie,

I agree with Melanie my books are my friends and I cant bare to part with them moving them is easy for me if from say one house to a new one ,I place them in special boxes,label and they are the last things I move over to the new place and I take them by car and not on the moving van and also I unpack them myself using a checklist that I mark down each one I take out to make sure I did miss one (just in case)!

Great post and congrats again and thanks for a great giveaway !

TashNz said...

Hi Natalie
Your post made me chuckle because that was my problem when I moved two months ago... too many books! I'm proud of my book collection so it was hard to let some go but !!!oh man!!! I had more of those to pack than the kids toys lol. I sorted my books into series's, and authors and culled the ones that I had on my "to be read" shelf that have done nothing but gather dust. If you're looking for easy storage ideas, the banana boxes from PakNSave or New World are brilliant!!! :)

TashNz said...

Hi Natalie
Your post made me chuckle because that was my problem when I moved two months ago... too many books! I'm proud of my book collection so it was hard to let some go but !!!oh man!!! I had more of those to pack than the kids toys lol. I sorted my books into series's, and authors and culled the ones that I had on my "to be read" shelf that have done nothing but gather dust. If you're looking for easy storage ideas, the banana boxes from PakNSave or New World are brilliant!!! :)

Michele L. said...

Ok, I admit, "I am a book hoarder!". There I said it. BUT, I do like to clean house. Every now and then, when things get to cluttered, I tell myself, "Do I really need this?" "Do I like it that much, that I want to keep it?" That is my motto to myself on how to get rid of stuff.

I am pretty good about it and do it twice a year. I have my favorite books in one bookshelf. Which probably is in the range of 40 to 50 books that I definitely want to keep.

Then there is my TBR pile which is in the range of 300 to 400 books. I periodically go through them also. In fact, just this last Monday, I went through a section of my TBR books and got rid of about 10 books, which I decided I really wouldn't read all the way through. Some books I consider "snore" books. I like action, romance, humor, and mysteries. If it doesn't hold my interest for a couple of pages, I chuck it.

I hope my method helps! :-) Good luck!

Michele L. said...

Oh, just to clarify my comment that I "chuck" books, I take the books I don't keep to my library in town. We have a wonderful library that has a book sale twice a year. I have found so many rare, mint condition books, by my favorite authors there! My hubby and I look forward to it all the time! We say it is the thrill of the hunt that lures us to the book sale. Plus finding that special book that you have been wanting for a long time!