Monday, October 06, 2008

Stacking Books

Moving is hell, but it's a lot worse when you have a lot of books.

After I'm settled in my new, cheaper apartment, I will be back to a regular posting schedule. Until then, I'm going to have to figure out what to do with all these books. My mother spent some time berating me today about how difficult the move was because I seemed to have about 20 boxes of books alone, and reminding me of how nice it was to move my brother, who is less of a reader and more of a "TV'er" so his life, moving-wise, is less complicated. When you read a lot, you collect a lot of books. When you work in publishing, you collect a lot of books. If you like buying books randomly on the street because they peaked your interest and they were a dollar, you collect a lot of books. All of this is great if you own a house and never plan on moving. Not so good when you move around every 1-2 years from tiny Manhattan apartment to tiny Manhattan apartment. Today I was deciding between a bookcase and a kitchen table. There wasn't really a decision to be made - the books couldn't sit on the table - so I'll be eating in my lap until I figure something out.

My books fall into these categories:
(1) History (research for my writing)
(2) History (general interest)
(3) History (gimmick)
(4) Judaica (Mishnah, Talmud, Mishnah Brurah, Sefer Yetzirah, etc)
(5) General fiction I bought with the intention to read
(6) General fiction I was given and told to read, probably by my father
(7) Books I got at a publishing fair, like the BEA, where they hand out a lot of free books
(8) Books I got during my publishing seminar
(9) Books I got at work because extra copies were lying around, filling up the office
(10) Books I bought because I thought I could sell them but I couldn't
(11) Books about writing/publishing
(12) Books about writing/publishing (gimmick)

In other words, I really need to learn to say no to, "Would you like a free book?"


Elissa M said...

My husband and I have over 3,000 books. He recently retired from the military and we just began unpacking from what I hope is our very last move. First, of course, we have to rebuild the bookcases. You would not believe what movers can do to a solid oak bookcase.

Books and moving. Yeah, I hear you.

Don said...

Only 30? You're not even close to the pain. I just checked my packing list from my wife's and my last move: 52 boxes of books (out of a total of 214 boxes). Which means that by volume, approximately 25% of my possessions are books. And this was after a round of book purges.

Extrapolating from my library to Elissa and Mr Elissa's, they had some 150 boxes of books.

Kimbra Kasch said...

And they say people don't read any more. Elissa and Don are making up for quite a few people.

kat said...

I moved 26 boxes of books from Canada when my husband and I moved in together. The good thing about packing 26 boxes of books? When you hand your itemized list to the border guard, they don't even *think* of searching your stuff. They just look at the pile and go, "Okay, you're clear."

One place I did find helpful in this time was BookMooch. It's basically a book exchange program. Good, relatively painless way to get rid of some of the stuff you don't want, even if what you get in return is, well, more books. :)

A'tuin said...

I have been a book diet for awhile. As I read the surplus I have, I put them up on to trade for others. There are similar sites. Maybe this is something you might want to do.

Melanie Hooyenga said...

I lived in two different studios for a total of four years without a table. I just used a trunk as a coffee table and used that. The books are worth it - I did have several bookcases. :)

The Rejection Queen said...

I have the same problem, except when I am done with a book I did not enjoy or don't feel it's worth keeping, I donate it to the library. Word of advice...only keep the books you just can't live without

Unknown said...

Hey, hey - what's with all this "I've got a problem" stuff?? We all simply have active, curious minds that need feeding. What's wrong with having the pantry stocked? And there's nothing wrong with keeping them around to read again - some day. Besides, they get that delicious, almost cocoa-butter sweet smell after they hit about fifteen years... Hmm. I think I may be seeing your point now.

Anonymous said...

::nods sympathetically::

I didn't count the boxes of books last time we moved (last time for a long time, I hope!), but by the time the movers came the book boxes filled what had once been the dining room of our apartment. And the movers were a little freaked out, because the dispatcher had not passed on my warning: "It's a one-bedroom flat, but it's a one-bedroom flat we;ve been living in for nine years, with a LOT of books in it."

I have no real idea how many books we own; I used to count them now and then, when I had insomnia, but insomnia is not a problem I have these days, so it's been years since I took inventory. But I read English Lit and French Lit at university, and I'm a writer and editor, and I commute by bus (which means I do a lot of reading in transit), and I work for a publisher. And my husband and daughter read, too. So the number has got to be pretty high by now.

Oh, and did I mention my husband collects comic books? Yeah, that's a whole other set of boxes.

When we moved into our new (2-bedroom) flat almost two years ago, we filled one whole wall with shelves, which we naively thought would take care of the book-storage problem. Ha! Those shelves are all full, some of them two deep with MMPB's; there are smaller bookcases in the bedroom, at the other end of the living-room by the computer, and in my daughter's room; and we're now edging toward that point again, that point where you look around and go, "Rats. Time to go buy bookshelves again" ...

1979 semi-finalist said...

Now I feel like going home and counting all my books. Which could just be a clever way to avoid doing the things I'm supposed to be doing.

I have the added bonus of a large comic book and graphic novel collection, which means in that before I even get to the boxes of "real" books I start with about 12 full comic book boxes.

My parents have complained about this every time they have helped me move in my life thus far.

Oh - and congrats on your move Rejecter. I hope your new cheaper place brings you much happiness.

Anonymous said...

Hopefully you'll take these corrections in the spirit in which they were served up.

Did your mom birade you or berate you?

Misuse of "literally," which means in actual fact. It's a given that you wouldn't be figuratively debating between bookshelf and table.

--someone who does a similar job to you.

The Rejecter said...

Anon 12:13,

I am so terrible at editing my own work. Other people's, I'm fine. My own, it's like I have a blind spot or something.

Mandy said...

Wow, sounds like you have a lot of work on your shelf. LOL

The Rejection Queen said...

I have a problem editing my own work too. I can read it a thousand times and still have a ton of types that I didn't see.

Anonymous said...

Try for exchanging books, too. They swap hardcover, paperback, and audio.

Olivia said...

I recently moved from a four bed detached house with separate study to a shoebox. I threw out three quarters of my clothes and most of the furniture but the thing that hurt most were the books. I have a rule now; if I buy a book another book has to go. So far it's working....

Anonymous said...

Hopefully you'll take these corrections in the spirit in which they were served up.

Did your mom birade you or berate you?

Then, of course, there's that use of "peaked" instead of "piqued". I still love you, though.


Clare said...

I recently moved in with my boyfriend, who is booky, too. I had to get rid of four meters of books before he would have me.

They went mostly on Freecycle, which was a very satisfying experience. I gave away a bunch of children's classics (they're all available on Project Gutenberg) to a lady who later in the day emailed me to say: 'You should have seen the look on my little girl's face when she came home from school. She's getting through a book a day, so they're very much needed.'

And I using for others, which was fun (I left them in the park, and hid behind trees to see who picked them up), but less satisfying because hardly anyone logs their finds.

Elissa M said...


Wait, your boyfriend is "booky" but you "had to get rid of four meters of books before he would have" you? I hope you really meant there wasn't room for you both and all the books- and that he got rid of an equal amount of his own tomes.

none said...

No to a free book? Blasphemy!

Eileen said...

Pack em up and raffle them off on here. Or make a kitchen table from books. I'm sure it can be done

Anonymous said...

My wife and I are now moving after 11 years in the same house. This has meant that the bookshelves (which were filled three deep with books on most of the shelves) were considered unsightly by the real estate agent and had to be packed away to sell our current house. Now that we have sold the house, our 2,000 books are still packed away, and I have to wait another seven months until May before I get to see the books again.

Who'd have thought you could miss your favourite books this much? At least you get to do the moving soon :-)

Katharine said...

My husband's the major book owner here, but there is nothing easier to pack than a box of books. I don't mind that at all. The china and glassware and framed pictures? Ick! Books don't break, so they don't need all that extra wrapping and labeling. Sure, the boxes are heavy, but they're stable, too.

And about that editing... Well, I think blogs are supposed to be rather quickly written, almost off the top of your head. It's okay if you haven't fixed your "hat hair" or whatever.

Anonymous said...

It's hard to say no to a free book but libraries are always open to donations.

Anonymous said...

I just moved across Canada and ended up getting rid of 80% of my books. Many were ones people gave me because I am a writer and book lover. Others were ones I read once and know I'll never read again because there will always be new books to read. Others were classics I know I can get in a library whenever I need a copy. I'm going to try to live with one big beautiful bookshelf for the rest of my life. This one shelf plan was inspired by a character (Kilroy I think his name was) in a novel I just read who weeds out books before he buys new. I can't remember the name of the book and I can't check my shelf since it's gone. Great book though.