Wednesday, November 25, 2015

What I Learned from Paring Down My Library or 5 Absurd Ways to Judge Books

As you may know, I recently reduced my personal library from 700+ books to 449, using the KonMari method from The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. Although Ms. Kondo whittled her own books down to a Hall of Fame of 30, this number feels comfortable to me. I always wanted a substantial home library, and I feel better knowing that I consciously chose each one of these books, and can continue to do so. As I went through my books, I kept tally marks of books in each genre, paperback and hardback, and also wrote down the names of those books that especially touched me, my "Hall of Fame." My Hall of Fame consists of 46 books, so if I ever need to reduce my collection further, I know what I want to keep.

I also learned a number of other absurd facts about my preferences in books, which I will share for your amusement and edification.

1. I dislike Dover Thrift editions. Every single Dover Thrift edition I owned ended up in the discard pile.

2. However, I am extremely attached to Puffins Classics editions. Every single one of my old, torn Puffins Classics editions made it through the purge, including books for which I have duplicates.

3. The largest genre I own consists of international literature paperbacks (62). I was surprised because I had not realized I was that worldly of a reader, but then I realized I was counting British and Canadian as international, and I own all of Jane Austen's (9, including duplicates) and most of L.M. Montgomery's oeuvre (10).

4. I don't care about owning plays. As a devoted theatre fan, I had purposefully built up a library of esteemed plays. Every single one of them ended up in the discard pile, except for Cyrano de Bergerac. I'm not counting Shakespeare here, since he fits into my 16th/17th century British literature genre (yes, I have enough of those to have a genre).

5. Almost every single book that ended up in my Hall of Fame is there not so much because of the content, but because that particular physical book was given to me, or recommended to me, by a loved one. That was an incredibly powerful realization.

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