It’s started: my seasonal “I’m ready to de-packrat the house!” mood.
Seems like every fall I get the urge to clean closets and unload “stuff”. Usually though, this is a quickly passing mood. Maybe I would get as far as pulling one or two things out, but normally I’m able to kind of wait it out. There are actually three things in life you can count on: death, taxes, and that the urge for me to clean or organize will pass.
This time, though, I’m taking action. The target? My books. Since I moved into my house, almost all of my books have been sitting in boxes down the basement, waiting for me to purchase a suitably large bookshelf to accomodate them all. I came from a house that had a room of built-in bookshelves, and in the new house, I had nowhere to put them since I opted to get rid of the $15 bookshelves that I purchased sometime around my college years.
So after a few weeks of determined searching, I finally found the bookshelf that I was looking for: a tall, 5-shelf monster of a unit which would fit nicely next to my fireplace. I enlisted the help of a friend to get it home from the store (it didn’t even fit in the back of my truck! I had to be all redneck-ish and have it hanging out the rear window for the short drive home), and after setting it up I was ready: ready to go haul my books up from the basement, ready to go through them (for some would certainly have to be trimmed from the ranks) and then ready to proudly display the ones that successfully navigated the selection process.
I didn’t know this, but it’s obvious to me now that books share a certain trait with bunny rabbits — they multiple when left alone. I went into the basement and instead of just the 5 or 6 boxes that I thought were there, I found 14 boxes. Yes, fourteen boxes. FOURTEEN BOXES, PEOPLE!! How does that happen? Doesn’t that seem just a little bit ridiculous? It was then that I realized that I had a much more herculian task ahead of me than I had anticipated, and when I admitted what would need to be done I almost shed tears. See, instead of just trimming out some of the books that I never really liked anyway, I knew that I’d have to be merciless and get my collection down to just a few boxes. Down from FOURTEEN BOXES (yes, I’m still a little astounded by that number…). *sniff*
Once all the books had been carried upstairs and dumped into my family room, I realized exactly how many books FOURTEEN BOXES can hold. The scientific answer: a helluva lot. To the nth degree. So, with a sigh, I started sorting. Like the Sorting Hat from the Harry Potter series of books, I’d try and look into each book, pouring through my memory to tell me whether this book was a keeper or not and what pile it should land in. Maybe re-read the first couple of pages, the last few also, if the first few didn’t spark remembrance. And this was taking forever. And I had FOURTEEN BOXES to go through.
So, my sorting criteria became streamlined:
#1. Do I remember reading the book? No? Donate pile.
#2. If I remember reading it, did I enjoy it? No? Donate pile.
#3. If I remembered it, and I enjoyed it, would I enjoy reading it again? No? Donate pile.
This made it an easy sorting process — because of my very short retention for books, most didn’t get past point #1 before heading into the out-of-the-house pile. That doesn’t mean I was happy to get rid of the books, just that I couldn’t think of any good reason why I should hold on to them.
Now my family room looks like a library book sale is going on, except without the old ladies and large amounts of cash flowing in. I’ve got books upon books strewn across the floor, waiting to be either picked up and given a home by one of my friends or be packed up in a box to be taken to the library for donation. Either way, they’ll be out of my house. And then – maybe the next time in the next house when I go to the basement to drag out my boxes of books… maybe then there will only be THIRTEEN BOXES.