The other day I happened upon a New York Times op-ed in which writer Laura Miller talks about culling books. When I read it, I simultaneously thought: “How wonderful!” and “How horrible!”
Now you have to understand, I am a compulsive cleaner. I constantly pick up after Andy, who is too concerned with efficiency to bother with things like aiming at the laundry basket or scraping food off plates before putting them in the dishwasher. But me? I fantasize about throwing things away. I revel in dropping off bags at Goodwill, or cleaning out a box by dumping its contents in a trash can and then folding IT up and dropping it in the recycle bin. I burn with desire to get rid of about 75% of the things in my parents’ home — half of which is junk I accumulated growing up, the other half is stuff my dad can’t bear to let go of even though he hasn’t even SEEN it in two years or more. You know, “just in case” he needs it someday.
(He was born towards the end of the Great Depression, so maybe he has some excuse…)
Anyway, being “streamlined” and tidy is a compulsion for me. But it does NOT apply to books.
I love books. The feel, the smell, the pages that turn, and have words on them, and form stories! How could I throw them away? We even have doubles of a few titles on our bookshelf, since we took a couple of the same courses (with the awesome Scott Sandage).
So, since I am too weak-willed and nostalgic when it comes to literature, I must resign myself to the fact that I will probably always have some form of “junk” in my house. I can weed out old clothes that don’t fit, recycle papers I don’t need, even delete music files that I never listen to, but books… books are just too hard to part with.
What do your shelves and drawers look like? Are you a pack rat, or a purger? How do you decide what to keep and what to toss?