"Immersion in the life of the world, a willingness to be inhabited by and to speak for others, including those beyond the realm of the human, these are the practices not just of the bodhisattva but of the writer." --Jane Hirshfield

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Books to Live Without?

"Is a gentleman’s library of floor-to-ceiling bookshelves anything more than a vanity?" -- Billy Collins, former Poet Laureate of the U.S.

Well, um. This article at the NY Times blogs has a few philosophies of weeding through books, and one holdout who refuses to get rid of any (Joshua Ferris, whose latest, The Unnamed, is on my to-read shelf), but vanity? Books I've read work as mnemonics for me. Not sure I'd remember them as well if I didn't keep them. The co-owner of The Strand in New York says honestly that it's a matter of how much space you have, and if you haven't got it, to send your books to him.

So do I need to get rid of some books or can I just get a bigger house? I have culled through books in the past before moves. It's never pleasant. I seldom miss what I toss, tho I have replaced a few discards.

And I do have a fantasy of a permanent residence with lots of storage space.


Cheryl Kidder said...

Thanks for the article. I'm with Joshua Ferris: What?! Me get rid of books! Not on your life. Only when/if we move. Although I admit I box up a few every now and then to create a credit slip at our local used bookstore... so I can get MORE books!

Zen of Writing said...

I know - it's hard! I'm trying to get rid of a few that I really didn't like or won't read again. But it's pitifully few compared to the never-ending cascade of incoming.