What to do about old books?


By Raymond M. Coulombe

Recently I was reading an article about getting rid of the clutter in one’s life. It caught my attention as I’m in the process of getting rid of a lot of stuff. The elephant in the room is what to do with all the books. The article stated that odds are most people’s books aren’t worth much money, with a few possible exceptions. They advised to sort through them, sell the valuable ones and get rid of the rest.

Like that’s going to happen.

Sometimes I think the only reason I own a house is to have a place to keep all my books. There’s an awful lot of other stuff that’s going to go before my books. Sure, I’ve no illusion that my collection of old S/F and Fantasy paperbacks have any commercial value. That does not matter. They are old friends. Sometimes I take them down off the shelves and read them all over again. The books have value to me.

Someday my kids might have to put a dumpster in the yard and fill it with the bulk of my library. That’s fine, as I’ll be dead and gone when that happens. Okay, maybe I’ll come back from the dead and haunt them just a little. I’m pretty sure that my old favorites will be around as long as I am.

That’s not to say all books can’t go. One cold winter I burned a couple cases of Romance novels. I don’t even remember how I acquired them. I don’t read Romance and there is precisely zero resale value. They burned merrily. Old books about investing and finance? Out they go! Spanish work books that no longer have the audio tapes that came with them? Gone.

Magazines? What about magazines? Working on it, but even that isn’t easy as I’d hoped. Every single time when I fill up a box for recycling, my wife picks a half dozen or so out of the pile. Still, it’s progress, of a sort.

I think I’ve reached the point where books are leaving almost as fast as they are coming in. Almost. While I don’t think I’ll ever voluntarily stop collecting books, I can probably cut down. Dang, that sounds like something an alcoholic would say.

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