In weeding my (overabundant) possessions, I've had to make decisions about reading material. For most of my life, I held on to almost any book or magazine that came my way. I've always been a big re-reader, so this made sense. It wasn't until I was an adult with means that my ability to acquire books outpaced my ability to store them.
the past few years, I have been donating or trading books, and
discarding magazines. I didn't have many books that were easy to let go
of; chances are, if I disliked a book that much, I never brought it into
my house to begin with. Most of the books that are here, I deliberately
chose to bring in.
At this point, reverting to an electronic
library isn't an option for me. I own a few ebooks, but I've discovered
that I vastly prefer reading print on paper. Maybe that will change
someday, but I must deal with the reality of the moment.
getting easier to let go of things in general. And as my friend Kelly
Fineman points out, if you pass along something you don't really need,
you enable someone who really wants or needs it to find it. Still, I
hang on to a lot.
Today, I realized that perhaps I can simplify book weeding with this question: Do I ever want to read this again?
seems rather self-evident, but I haven't been quite so simple and
direct with my weeding criteria before. I would look at a book, thinking
how much I liked it, how much I learned from it, who gave it to me or
when/where I bought it, etc., and then I would try to summon a gut
feeling for "keep or give away." I would try to anticipate how regretful
I might be if I let it go. I never identified a specific rule for what
would make me keep something.
There are a few books I hold onto
for sentimental reasons (special gifts, mostly). But my new goal is for
almost every book or magazine in my house to meet this criterion: I want
to read it again.
That question has already helped me pack up a donation box today.