I used to be a book hoarder. Well, I still am, but a significant change is that as I am collecting, I am letting go of books as well. I started it last summer when my niece expressed interest in some of my YA books.
A brief history of my book addiction: books were not generously available to me growing up. I always borrowed, had to wait until the end of a grading period to buy one as a reward, or had to wait for my dad’s and sister’s balikbayan boxes to arrive with books alongside cereals, toiletries, and shoes. When I started earning my own money, I started buying. A book or two every payday, if I was in the mood. Until it got out of hand. I got to a point where I buy books because I can. I always pass by a mall with a National Bookstore, a BookSale and a Powerbooks (then), so there’s no excuse not to buy one. Or two. Or three. Or more if they are on sale. It was (and probably will always be) my personal version of crack.
I have approximately 1,400 books stored inside our apartment (how they fit inside, I will never figure out) and have read probably only around 400 or so. This year it dawned on me that I will need to let go of some of them. The ones I have already read can go. Not all, of course. But it feels good to hand many of them over to someone who likes reading, too.
I have a rule with my wardrobe that anything I have not worn in one year, I don’t need. So off they go. In a way, it could apply to books, too. Not just to those I have read, but to those comfortably sitting in my shelves, which are there because of the hope that I will read them in time. It’s a futile motivation anyway so might as well let them be enjoyed now by others who, like I was before, could not afford to buy books as regularly as I do now.
One glaring life lesson smack dab in the middle of this biblio-love is this: as someone who has a keen nose and eye for great yet cheap buys in second-hand bookshops, I am able to do it because people let go of what they once owned. More importantly, I have friends and colleagues who see me as a walking repository of books so they literally dump them in my workstation whenever they are done with their book pile. So in turn, I also have to let go many of my own so they can be enjoyed by others. It is simply a cycle of generosity and spreading the love for the printed word. 🙂