Wednesday, February 1, 2012

It all starts with the first step.

Today I made the first hard step toward downsizing. Not just "de-cluttering", which I do at least semi-annually whenever the *stuff* starts to close in on me. That's just getting rid of useless stuff that I don't even notice when it's gone. The kind of paring down that keeps us from eventually appearing on an episode of Hoarders.

No. Today was the first step toward downsizing that will hurt, at least a little bit.

I love to read and I love books, but I don't need to own shelves and shelves of books if I never plan to re-read them. And I don't. That's just not the kind of reader that I am. With only a handful of exceptions, once I read a book, I will never pick it up again. I may skim through it to re-read a favorite passage or important anecdote from the text, but I do not read the same books over and over again.

Therefore, the first major purge of the books occurred today. I've done the cursory de-cluttering in the past, mostly getting rid of books that I didn't care for or weren't very good, or that I never finished reading in the first place. But after these purges I was still left with several shelves full of books that I loved, enjoyed reading and liked the idea of owning--even if I will never again pick up the book to read it again.

With Jason's help, last night we pulled off 2 diaper boxes full of books from the shelves to take to Half-Price Books to sell. Some great titles were in those boxes! Some books that I've held onto 10 years or more after purchasing just because I loved the book so much! But never opened the books a second time. I decided that if I really do want to read the book again, I can always borrow it from a library or buy it for my e-reader and not have the physical clutter in my life. And if I choose to re-purchase the book for my Kindle, then it truly is a work that I want in my collection forever.

So, 9:00am today I load up the little two kids and my boxes of books to take to the used bookstore. I knew that I needed to get them to the store as soon as it opened today, or else I would be tempted to go "shopping" in the boxes and choose books to put back on my shelf. Ian helped the gentleman at the store with opening doors and pushing our cart of books to the Buy Counter. I think he knew that I needed all the help that I could get to make this major step. I gave them my name, and then we waited.

Less than 10 minutes later, I was called back to the Buy Counter and given my offer:


That's all?

Since my only goal was to not bring any books back home, I accepted the offer and within minutes I was given cash in exchange for my literary treasures.

While I feel a lot lighter and more prepared for the next steps of downsizing after this small step today, it definitely stung a little. I had probably spent hundreds of dollars to purchase these books, only to be offered $27 when I was through with them. It has solidified that, for me, buying books is not an investment. They are a liability, not an asset. When I choose to purchase a book in the future, I need to keep today's events in mind and carefully weigh if I really plan to hold onto the book and re-read or reference it over and over again, or if borrowing it from a library is a better plan. With the advent of the e-reader, however, the physical clutter aspect becomes null. Even so, the financial component is still something to consider, since re-sale of e-books is currently non-existent. As a once-and-done reader, libraries were made for me.

I will have more literary purges in the future. There are boxes full in our storage shed that I need to take in for sale, once I can access them when the weather breaks for good. In the meantime, I will slowly whittle away at what remains until I am left with only the books that I truly love and wish to carry with me through life.

Oh, and one book did creep back home with me from the used bookstore. Upon seeing everything laid in front of me, I realized that I'm not quite ready to part with Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance. Quite fitting, perhaps.

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