The Bookshelf Purge

As I go accumulating more and more books, I have less space available on my bookshelf, naturally. This has made me reevaluate what I allow space on my shelves, so I recently did a bit of a purge. I had kept so many books for so long that I’d never read because I kept telling myself, “Someday.” I think it’s time I stop deluding myself. There’s no way I can ever get through ALL THE BOOKS before my life is over, especially since I’m a responsible adult with a life. What did that mean for some of my old second-hand purchases? It was time to let go of the notion that I’d eventually get around to them.

The deciding factor though for purging some books off my shelves was the diversity. I admit, I’ve been guilty of not reading diversely, but I’d like to change that. Making room physically for such books is a start. I didn’t just get rid of all white and/or male authors from my shelves, because I’d essentially be getting rid of my entire collection altogether, and I’m not that evolved of a human being yet. I did, however, rid myself of copies of the remainder of Dean Koontz’s Odd Thomas series and Michael Connelly novels. At this point, in my attempts to be a more conscious reader, I’ve come to realize the problematic characterization that can occur with such writers.

It’s not just the way certain characters are written that prompted me to purge these books from my shelves, although that aspect definitely made me feel less guilty about getting rid of books I hadn’t read yet. With the above two mentioned authors, I’ve already read enough of their canon to feel satisfied with having experienced those worlds and characters. Yes, Odd Thomas is a cool series, but having already read the first three books, I think I get it. He’s a ghost-seeing fry cook that it reticent to get into the action but does so anyway because that’s what protagonists do. Yes, Connelly’s Detective Bosch is a fun, cranky officer of the law with a gritty personality and serious machismo faults, but I’ve read enough of his adventures to know he’s always gonna catch the bad guy and be a terrible romantic interest.

With a significant chunk of books gone with getting rid of those two authors alone, I’ve made room for Roxane Gay, Zoraida Cordova, and Isabelle Allende. I know I should probably get rid of some more books from my shelf, but I’m still working on letting go of my material possessions. I have, however, extended my white and/or male author purge to my Goodreads TBR list and gotten rid of the last book in Veronica Roth’s Divergent series, the remaining Percy Jackson series books, and others. It felt like a breath of fresh air to see a good number of books get off my shelves and lists, taunting me with guilt for not having read them after all these years. From now on, I’m going to read what I want and not what I feel obligated to read (sans school textbooks).

2 thoughts on “The Bookshelf Purge”

  1. For me, one argument against book purges (or maybe an argument *for* them, hmm) is rereading. Unless I see that book in front of me, unless I get a visual reminder of how good that book is, how much I’d get from reading it again and maybe how that book feels like unfinished business…I’d never be prompted to reread it. And that feels like a bad thing.

    Rereading is deeply unfashionable these days, it seems. And I get it. Nobody has the time to read the same thing twice, with the overwhelming amount of new writing hitting us in the face every day.

    But rereading is where the magic happen. It’s where things sink in properly.

    There’s a saying in internet marketing: “your customer needs 8-10 interactions with your brand before they’re ready to buy.” And maybe rereading is similar. Maybe we need multiple encounters with a book before it can truly do its work on us.

    So if there’s something in your bookcase that feels like it’s rereadable….hang onto it. 🙂

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    1. Oh absolutely! There are books for sure I don’t get rid of because even if I don’t get around to rereading them now, in the past I’ve read them so many times that I just know physically keeping them there is necessary haha. There are just some books I cannot part with 🙂

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