The Book Progression

As an admitted bibliophile, I have been looking for ways to tackle my book collection in my downsizing project. While I expected parting with so many books to be difficult, I have really found encouragement in all the other progress that has been made in our household, and how good it feels to get rid of things. Before we moved to the smaller place, we did a major book purge. An entire bin of books was taken to Wonder Books and sold for 15 dollars. We boxed up two banker boxes with the fiction books we intended to keep, and those went into our office closet for storage. But we still had 2 book shelves with more books than would fit. I knew that once I started organizing the new place, I would have to srutinize my books even further. Indeed, we ended up with another small stack that we left at Goodwill two weeks ago. I am sure there is still room to purge, but considering how much I have gotten rid of so far, I think I’m doing alright. I think I can now sit back and take a break from book purging and start exploring other aspects of book reduction.

1.The Public Library A couple of months ago, at the suggetion of another mom from my daughter’s school, I began taking my daughter to Storytime at the downtown library. Its 30 minutes of books, songs and stories. The kiddo has really enjoyed the experience and I really strive to make it happen each week. I try to get us there a few minutes early and we pick four or five books to read at bedtime for the week. At the next storytime, we return our books and check out some more. This has accomplished a couple of things. It has reminded me how much I love going to the library (I LOVED it growing up!) – I didn’t start accumulating my massive library until in college. This has also been great for Kyri. We are reading through so many new books each week now and she really loves books. Its encouraged me to read several books at bedtime, and I even find Kyri setting up her bears with pillows and blankets and then she sits with them and “reads” the books to them. Its priceless. Its also become a mommy and daughter night. We spend time at the library and then afterward we often walk to the canal that runs through downtown and get ice cream at Ben and Jerry’s on the waterfront with her friend from school. Its a fun routine. Of course, I will still purchase books for my daughter, but this gives me an opportunity to find one or two books that Kyri continually asks for even after they get returned and that she just REALLY loves. I already have one or two mind for her upcoming birthday and Christmas.

One thing that Storytime has accomplished in all of this is getting me back into using the library. Somewhere along the way I began accumulating books, some for the mere sake of owning them. But as I started purging books, I had to decide which books I wanted to keep to read again (the two boxes of fiction would fall into this category) and keep for reference (like the dwindling army of science books) and those that are read but don’t need to be kept for posterity. So in my drive to incorporate a more minimalist approach to my life, I decided I would, in most cases, start with the library. If the book I want to read is available, I’ll check it out. If I decide later that it should be part of my collection, then I’ll purchase it, otherwise, read and return is good enough for me. With a firecracker of a three year old, I find its a little tough to get any search time in for myself, so what I have started to use is the online catalog for the library on their website. I can search for the books I am interested, and if I find what I want, I request a hold be placed. If its checked in, they pull it within a day or so, and then when I take Kyri in, and we check her books out, I pick up my book at the circulation desk. If the book I want is checked out, when it gets returned they hold it for me and let me know when its waiting for me. Its great! I’ve got ten days from the time they pull a book for me and send me the email to come pick it up, so I always just do it the same day as Kyri’s storytime.

2. Kindle Now while it is tempting to have every new gadget out there, so far I have held off on an e-reader. Part of me is hesitant to get into the technology when deep down I love paper books. But I realize at some point its going to happen. Now that I have made the decision to reduce my book collection, I have really had to do some soul searching. While I really enjoy checking books out from the library, I realize in some cases I will want to or need to purchase a new book. Case in point, I have decided to participate in a book club put together by Colleen Patrick-Goudreau, a vegan cook and activist. The first month’s book is a newly published fiction book that was just released in June. It hasn’t gotten to the library yet, and I really want to read it. Accepting that at some point, I will switch over to an e-reader, I put the Kindle app on my iphone (no need to purchase the Kindle yet!) and actually bought the kindle version of the book I want to read. No book on my bookshelve, and while I don’t have all the benefits of using the Kindle, with the screen looking like real paper and a book-sized unit, its not bad or uncomfortable reading on my iphone. Its a start, I think, in adjusting to reading e-books. I’m sure I’ll eventually get a dedicated reader, but I figure small steps first, right?

3. Paper books There are going to be books I need or want to own a physical copy, but I am happy to say that I am actually scrutinizing purchases now. Is reading a library copy or ebook a satisfactory alternative? If its not available by these options, there should be a good reason why I need to have the paper copy. So far, I have only purchased one book, and it was deemed necessary (an important reference book for Dan). I know that I will get a couple children’s books for gifts for Kyri around the holidays, but I am feeling pretty good knowing that I am not bringing in so many books.

Small steps. That’s what I keep telling myself. I think the fact that I am even questioning book purchases is monumental in itself. This, and kitchenware, are probably the two areas that I struggle with consumption (the kitchen will be another post!) so its going to be a work in progress.

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