Downsizing a Library—Ow! Ow! Ow!

posted in: personal news 8

I’ve written before that we have been downsizing our dwelling in preparation for moving to the smaller first-floor apartment in our two-family house. This is partly so we will fit in the smaller space. But it’s also because, when we shuffle off this mortal coil as someday we will, we don’t want to leave a monstrous mess (or museum, depending on your viewpoint) for our kids to have to deal with. We are keenly aware of this, because Allysen’s parents did leave us with a treasure trove of things we don’t necessarily want to keep. They traveled the world over, and brought home artwork of all kinds, and brought home books of all kinds, and collected fine and idiosyncratic furnishings from many different countries. This is stuff not lightly to be thrown out, but way too much to be absorbed into our lives, much less our kids’ lives. We’re distributing what we can to family, but that in itself is a time-consuming process. Other things we’re simply trying to rehome, so someone else can enjoy them. It’s a challenge. (But it’s been made easier with the energetic and determined assistance of our daughter Lexi.)

And then we come to our own collections. Aiiee. Books! Getting rid of books from a personal library is painful. I attacked the SF/F shelves with sword in hand, mercilessly cutting books that I was pretty sure I would never read, or read again. Box after box after box of hardcovers, and shopping bag after shopping bag of paperbacks. It never seemed to end.

They all had to come to Allysen for vetting, and that’s when the process started wobbling. “This is a favorite of mine! We can’t—” “Okay, we can put it back.” “I haven’t read this one. Have I read this? I need to read this before I can say.” “Um, yeah. Just put it over there.” “Why are you giving this one away? It’s a classic.” “We have two other copies…” “And this?” “We have it in ebook. And audiobook.” “Hm, I think we need it in paper.” And so it goes. (My ideal is to have a massive ebook library that displays holographically like a print library, so you can browse the shelves and pull the books off and look at the covers and flip through the pages, but without the dust and the space limitations.)

Anyway, we managed to load up the truck with a thousand and more books, and off they went. Some went to the prison books program, some to the town library, some to More Than Words, which employs young people to rehome all kinds of things, some to Good Will, and some choicer selections still waiting to go to the New England Science Fiction Association. Nor are we done.

But answer me this: Why do the shelves still look full?

(Edit: If some important titles seem to be missing (e.g., yours, if you are a writer), they’re probably just in another bookcase. I mostly stopped buying print books about fifteen years ago, though, so anything published since then would be in my ebook and/or audiobook library.)

Some of the reduced SF shelves. If you can read the titles, tell me which ones hit a chord with you, especially you as a young reader…

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8 Responses

  1. Richard
    | Reply

    I’ve got 20,000+ mostly in boxes for 22 years from 3 moves about the country – and I still can’t get rid of them.
    You’re braver than I sir

    • Jeffrey A. Carver
      | Reply

      Dunno about brave. I just don’t want my kids to have to deal with this in the future. Also, I like the thought that maybe someone else is getting a chance to read these books.

  2. JJ
    | Reply

    To be honest, the book on those shelves that impacted me the most was the paperback of Neptune Crossing! I was 12 years old and grabbed it at random off a wall of featured books in some book store long forgotten. Now, 25 years later, your name is the still the first one I look for when I browse the sci-fi shelves at the book store. It’s hard to overstate the influence you’ve had on my personal literary journey over the years, and hopefully will continue to have for many more years to come! Thanks for everything Jeff.

    • Jeffrey A. Carver
      | Reply

      Oh wow. I mean…I wasn’t fishing for compliments about my own books. So…just…wow. Thank you.

  3. W Brown
    | Reply

    Looking at the paperbacks I’m surprised at the number that I accurately recognized without having to zoom in. Besides your Chaos Chronicles, a few that stood out were the Dune and Ender’s Game series, Endymion, Lucifer’s Hammer, and even Science Fiction Hall of Fame hidden down in a corner.
    I’ve got 4 full book cases, many shelves 2 or even 3 deep, and I’ve still got a number of boxes in the basement waiting to return to the light of day. The only thing aggravating me about them is that I can’t seem to get my kids (still in grade school) interested in reading any.

    • Jeffrey A. Carver
      | Reply

      Well, grade school may be a little early. Not sure when I started with the Tom Swift, Jr. books as a kid. Though now that I think about it, my own kids were heavily into the Animorphs series, I think toward the end of grade school. Also writers like Bruce Coville, and a little later, Tamora Pierce. Most of those books are still on one daughter’s shelves (she’s in her 30s now). I’m keeping the Animorphs books for them, just because. My own fondest memories of the early books were the Tom Corbett stories.

  4. Harry Pray III
    | Reply

    When will Master of ship world be coming out?

    • Jeffrey A. Carver
      | Reply

      I truly wish I could tell you. See previous post(s) about writers block.

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