Later On

A blog written for those whose interests more or less match mine.

Weeding the library: hard to do

with 4 comments

I am having to recognize that it would be impossible for me to read all the books I own. So I must start making hard decisions—all the harder because I like the books I own: that’s why I bought them.

So now I’m trying to be systematic, but it’s hard when you pick up a copy (unread, alas) of The New Book of Forms: A Handbook of Poetics, by Lewis Turco (who also wrote The Book of Forms, now in its third edition) and realize that (a) you won’t read it it, and (b) the time for me to have read it was 50 years ago (difficult, since it had not then been published). It’s a book for the young, who can do things with what they learn from the reading.

So today it will go to the library, to be sold or cataloged as they see fit. This post is just a way of saying goodbye to the book, and expressing my regrets for not having read it—an apology of sorts.

Written by Leisureguy

6 January 2008 at 11:34 am

Posted in Books, Daily life

4 Responses

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  1. Mike, how many books do you have?

    Aren’t you considering passing them on to your next generation?

    I started subscribing to “Library of America” at the beginning– the 1970s –, and now have a collection approaching 200 vols. I hope that at least one of my three grand children will want the set.

    Over the years i have collected a lot of books, but now have only a “small” collection — about 500 titles, and hope that some are valuable enough that a library will want them.

    Giving them to the public library to sell is an option, but most of the good titles will be swooped up by book sellers who market through something like on the internet.


    Raymond McInnis

    6 January 2008 at 12:08 pm

  2. THOUSANDS. I imagine the next generation (all on the opposite coast) just fainted at the thought of inheriting them all.


    the wife

    6 January 2008 at 12:59 pm

  3. as an old reference librarian, i’m in the habit of “consulting” books as opposed to reading them cover to cover.

    when i look at a book i look first at the bibliography at the back of the book — this is a habit much like looking at the spines of books in someone else’s library, to check out what makes the writer/owner tick, find out where his mind is, so to speak.

    with so many books now available on the web, now, the need for a personal reference collection is reduced, but you still like to have the book in hand.


    Raymond McInnis

    6 January 2008 at 2:10 pm

  4. Before moving for the 16th time in 23 years back in ’01, I spent time trimming my vast personal library, which had grown to over 181 boxes! I tended to buy everything worthy by and of an author like Proust, for example, or Alfred North Whitehead. I owned every classic book written for a while.

    But moving again in 2005, I was able to trim it to 25 boxes since many of the texts are online and I had also collected and archived the text versions (rarely PDF and never a proprietary format) of the books on physical disc. At my age, I could no longer physically move the volume of books I had collected! Looking back at the incredibly cheap prices I paid for books back in the ’70s, it’s a damn shame what they cost today. Still, I refuse to be a packrat or fall into OCD hoarding.

    As for movies, I have used Netflix to copy over a 1000 titles to DVD over the past few years. I will not wont for something to view for quite some time.


    Zaine Ridling

    6 January 2008 at 7:01 pm

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