Confessions of Hoarder

I downsize in slow motion. Every year I sweep the house looking for items to discard. On a shelf with ten books, I declare a 30% surplus and three are laid off. My wife raids the donation pile and puts Declutter Like a Mother back. The next year I see nine books on the same shelf because we bought Spark Joy. I declare a 33% surplus and so it goes. I also skim the books before discarding. Skimming leads to reading A Man Called Ove because no one can resist stories about old curmudgeons. Progress is slow but I have successfully eradicated most paperbacks. Culling the Word has also decimated books published in my lifetime. I retain undamaged hardbacks from the 1880’s through the early 1940’s because they look cool and I favor cosmetics over substance. I did toss a 1937 biography of Cecil Rhodes. My paternal grandfather signed his own name on the inside front cover but I do not want anyone thinking I admire Rhodes. I am a poser and have ten volumes of William Makepeace Thackery writings compiled and published in 1888. I may have read something he wrote but have retained nothing. I love the idea of Carl Sagan but I finally tossed Broca’s Brain. I do not have the requisite brainpower or attention span to actually learn any science. I was fascinated enough by Outer Space to attend a String Theory lecture. But all I remember is the Universe being like a tightly wound ball of string being threatened by Earth’s gravitation pulling too hard on a loose thread. I am going to take a Blogging break to skim Edward Gibbon’s two volume work on The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. I may return sooner than I expect.

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61 thoughts on “Confessions of Hoarder

  1. Me too. I have been skimming through books so that I don’t feel too guilty to throw them away, although I have to say I’ve had very little memory retention of any of the books I’ve skimmed so far.

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  2. I started going through my books this week. I found two that I want to reread, dozens that I don’t have the heart to toss, and threw that I can pass on to our year old great granddaughter. This could take me a while. πŸ™„

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    1. Sometimes we know we are eventually going to give away books on a future sweep but we pick the easiest targets. Then books we should have swept fall to the lowest rung for next time. We make it a tortuous process, pulling off the bandage slowly.

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  3. Culling books is hard work — too many questions to ask and answer. Does this book belong to me, or someone else? If it belongs to me, do I want to keep it? If not, should I find out if one of the kids wants it before putting it in the donation pile? Where should I take the ones that end up in the donation pile? (Ideally someplace where they will be picked up by someone who will derive some benefit from them, but that place differs from book to book, so I end up with multiple donation piles.) After a few minutes of this I’m mentally exhausted and need a break.

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    1. So true. I find books my parents gave to my children with inscribed personal messages. I pull them out of the donation pile only to find my boys have previously waived any interest in them. But I save them again just in case they change their mind.

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  4. The real deal meaningful books I can’t give up; A lot of birthday gift/airport fodder lightweight dross is easy to offload on the Salvation Army- best check the titles though- ‘Aromatherapy Stinks’ is acceptable, ‘The Wit And Wisdom Of Kim Khardashian’ is too, even if there’s slim pickings in that thin little offering, anything by Dan ‘Da Vinci Code’ Brown is NOT, due to the untold amount of unsold volumes propping the shop up, and neither are any ‘Shades Of Gray’ titles suitable for the Army’s prim window display.

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      1. It was bound to happen. I’ll dock you a point for the pun landing being grammatically incorrect but add it back plus two for the stretch! There are also many left on the table here, but in a spirit of PC, I refrain.

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  5. When you are done decluttering your bookshelf, come to Lex and help me declutter my basement. I’ve only been promising to do this for about 10 or 11 years, but I reeeally will get to it early next year. My Procratinator’s Anonymous Support Group never met this year, so we are scheduling for January 32 next year. πŸ™„

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  6. I’ve kinda set aside doing any further book decluttering because at this point we’ve pretty much whittled down everything that won’t result in a disagreement. At this point, when one person goes to suggest something can be donated or recycled the other person says “absolutely not.” The ones on hand may have made “the final cut.”

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  7. Ahh books! Can one really have too many books? LOL!
    I am a voracious reader and I have to go through my books lots of times for my bookshelves only hold so many and there is no room for more bookshelves! πŸ˜‚
    I have a variety of books but The Rise and Fall of the Roman Empire is not in my collection. I will let you enjoy it. I will look for the book report about it in your next post. πŸ˜‰

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  8. perhaps you should create a shelf with books you’d like others to be impressed by when you pass on many years from now? (actually having read them is unimportant). put some sort of sign up to call attention to it, like: ‘some of my easy faves, read at least once, and didn’t want to mess up the books by putting annotations in the margins, or some such casual note.

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    1. I will have to abstain there. Nothing ruins a book for me faster than hearing it. Catholics may think “Lector” here if they desire. Even the most mellifluous voice of a James Earl Jones, or the drawl of a Sam Elliot can bring a book to life like your imagination.

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  9. The other half is an English Professor. Ph.D. in Rhetoric. There are large bookshelves – teak, oak, and IKEA – loaded with books. None of that empty space for dramatic effect or pictures. How many Norton and Oxford Anthologies does one need? How many have they published? Women, World, Eastern, Western, Very Old, Contemporary, By Continent, By Decade, By Race, Language, Millenia… Mine reside crammed in a small room with synthesizers, computer monitors etc. I occasionally drop in at estate sales and when I leave I always say “I don’t want to be that guy who leaves jars and Tupperware full of random screws, unopened parts for long gone appliances and rusty shovels.” And yet…

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  10. Getting rid of books is like getting rid of bad habits. You know you’ve acquired them, but you’re too lazy to study them, and they stick around till you forget you even have them. Nice post, Geoff. πŸ™‚

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  11. My poser books include THE EDUCATION OF HENRY ADAMS, purchased because the erudite William F. Buckley, Jr. assumed all of his students had read it; and DON QUIXOTE, purchased because it seemed like required reading. Naturally, they remain on my bookshelf with a bookmark inserted just after the second chapter.

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    1. I tried to read ‘Don Quixote’ in my younger less busy days. I really did. I’d rather be tarred as illiterate than try wading through that first wasted chapter/year again. What an overload of Cervantes.

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    2. My wife was impressed with Buckley when we were dating, so I started listening to and reading him. We liked very little about his politics but he was an intoxicating communicator. I used to say he could beat me in any debate but he was still wrong!

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  12. I hardy read actual books anymore, nor am l reading the Kindle, l have forgotten what it is l am actually reading the most!? I am reading every day, aside from blogs, reading what it is l am writing and reading, what is it that l am reading?

    I have lost my love for fiction, poetry is come and go and as you please, mostly reality, of course l read smatterings of the News…

    But l did read once many years ago the volumes connected to Gobbon’s The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire. and when l was maybe 6 perhaps 7, The Rise and Fall of the Trigan Empire!

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Trigan_Empire

    It’s good to cutback on books, heavy things!

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