Z703.6 → Weeding My Book Collection


It's reading week for my program right now and as a fun little exercise, I decided to tackle the sorting of my personal book collection while I'm back home. Ahem, yes, I did actually use the word "fun" in that last sentence. This is what librarianship does to me. Anyway, I stopped into my hometown library and saw that they were collecting donated books for their annual sale. This has spurred me to look at my own bookshelves for the fist time since, well, their last book sale. My shelves have a lot of the same books that they always do, but it's prompted some interesting thoughts.

For example, I'm personally very picky about what I choose to give away. I constantly re-read my books, and I tend to justify not giving one away by convincing myself that I'll read it again soon. Contrast this with my father, who never, ever re-reads a book. Once he's read it, it goes on his shelf and then eventually to a garage sale or what have you. Will absolutely never touch it again. He'd be a great library patron if only he thought of the public library before Chapters. So, when I'm going through my shelves looking for things to donate there are a few de-selection thoughts that come to mind ...

What kind of book is it? I tend to hang on to non-fiction books regardless of if I ever re-read them or not. They'll be my coffee table books or my fancy 'display' books for people to admire someday. My art history text books are much too pretty - and were much too expensive - for me to simply say goodbye to without a second thought. If they're genre books (and, let's face it, they're likely to be romances) they require a bit more thought, such as ...

Did I actually like the book the first time around? There are some absolute favourites that I think I'll always re-read -- they're comfort books to me. Most things by Loretta Chase, Jo Goodman, Julie James and Joanna Bourne for example, will always stay on my shelf. Karen Rose's thrillers, Lisa Kleypas' contemporaries, and Sherry Thomas' historicals also don't budge.

How many times have I re-read it since purchase? This should fall into the simple 'did I like the plot or not' kind of deal, but I find there's a lot more to it than that. Take Kristan Higgins' books as an example. I've got two on my shelf right now that I thoroughly enjoyed when I bought them (and the second time I read them) - but that was a few years ago now, and I haven't picked them up since. And, quite frankly, I don't plan on reading them again any time soon. On the other hand, I've got the Harry Potter series, Lord of the Rings, and Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy on my shelves that haven't been re-read lately - but those are classics, and I'll pick them up again eventually down the line, so they don't move at all.

And finally, are there extenuating circumstances? This question gets asked the least amount, but I do end up using it as a justification every time. The best example of this is The Da Vinci Code. Man, I hate that book. A lot. But my grandmother gave me the deluxe edition for Christmas one year and it's filled with gorgeous reproductions of the artwork discussed by Brown in the novel. As a devotee of art history and as a person who loves her grandma - I simply can't give that away. So it stays on the shelf.

And so, a final count: this year I got rid of 10 books to the library sale! That doesn't sound like much, but it's at least freed up some space for future books!

So what about you, dear readers, do you re-read books or are you one-and-done? Are there particular things you think about when you're looking to get rid of books?

{Header Images from: Biodiversity Heritage Library, Flickr 1 / 2 ; all other photographs are by author}


  1. Hahaha I totally think 10 is a lot of books - I don't know if I'd manage that many! I generally just go on the "did I like it?" question, because even if I only mildly liked it, I'm likely to re-read it again! :)

    1. 10 books can seem so tiny compared to the rest of the shelf, though! lol.

      There are a few books that I've kept just using the "did I like it?" Q since they're relatively recent purchases. But if I haven't re-read it in a number of years, I start to value the space that it takes up, and it gets closer and closer to the donation pile!