Author Topic: Help me decide whether I should get rid of most of my personal library  (Read 6864 times)

snuggler

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Hi everyone,

I have been working on becoming more of a minimalist in the past 3 years. For the most part, it has been successful, but is a long and slow process. I came from a family with a very different mindset, where the virtues of minimalism aren't really understood, and definitely aren't practiced. But, I'm getting there.

One thing I'm struggling with now is getting rid of my books. I have one of these guys right now: http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/40047675/, and I use about half of it to store books, and also store books all across the top ledge.

I'm moving soon, and am thinking about getting rid of a large majority (3/4) of these books. I'd keep 1) the ones I really like, re-read often, and lend to others often, and 2) the ones I'm still very interested in reading in the near future (next 2 years).

Do you think it's wise for me to get rid of the rest? I'm struggling a bit with what to do, because I really like them, and probably will want to read them again someday. But, on the other hand, I don't see myself reading them again in the next 2 years, which is the normal question I ask myself before getting rid of my other possessions.

Part of the struggle is that a normal public library likely won't have a lot of these- many of them are very academic books that I acquired (at a high price) during grad school. Something also just freaks me out about getting rid of books. I think it's because my family is very pro-education and pro-books.

What do you think? Should I just suck it up and get rid of them? Have you ever gotten rid of most of your personal library, and if so, did you regret it?

Elaine

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Re: Help me decide whether I should get rid of most of my personal library
« Reply #1 on: January 21, 2014, 11:42:08 AM »
"Part of the struggle is that a normal public library likely won't have a lot of these- many of them are very academic books that I acquired (at a high price) during grad school."

Based on this statement I wouldn't get rid of them. 

kt

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Re: Help me decide whether I should get rid of most of my personal library
« Reply #2 on: January 21, 2014, 11:50:18 AM »
"Part of the struggle is that a normal public library likely won't have a lot of these- many of them are very academic books that I acquired (at a high price) during grad school."

Based on this statement I wouldn't get rid of them.
+1

+1

i know it's not minimalist but coming at it from a mustachian perspective here: if you need to factor the books into the size of your next house (i.e. they need a room of their own essentially), get rid of them. if your library is modest enough to fit most places (looks like it is), keep it.
my understanding of minimalism is paring back to what you truly need and love in your house. if that's books, so be it. at least it is a conscious decision. if you like the minimalist aesthetic, maybe box up those books you'd considering getting rid of and pop them in your attic/basement/some other hidden place. this might also make it easier to get rid of them after a few years of not-seeing.
additionally, you could see how much some of those academic books would resell for (if they aren't in a subject which ages quickly).

MissStache

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Re: Help me decide whether I should get rid of most of my personal library
« Reply #3 on: January 21, 2014, 12:03:00 PM »
I have this same struggle.  My books are beloved items, but the vast majority of them are esoteric history books that I haven't touched since college and I'm not likely to use them ever again.  I keep saying I will get rid of them, but I've moved them 7 times since college :/

For me it is purely emotional, and I do acknowledge that.  I no longer work in anything related to academia and I really miss having that in my life, so keeping them is a reminder of what my life once was.   Obviously I have no tips on how to conquer that!

For the ones that were expensive, do they still have their value?  Perhaps if you could sell them for a substantial amount that would help.  There may still be grad students out there who need those books!  Or, have you thought about donating them to your university library or one nearby?  At least then you know thew will likely be used at some point.

Khan

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Re: Help me decide whether I should get rid of most of my personal library
« Reply #4 on: January 21, 2014, 12:14:49 PM »
Take a look at each book individually? Take it off the shelf, stare at it longingly.

Do you feel anything for it? Is it a book you'll re-read? Is it a book whose knowledge will not be outdated? Did you really enjoy that course so much that you'd read the course material again(OOooh, English 101 here I come!)?

Is it worth lugging around for the rest of your life?

rubybeth

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Re: Help me decide whether I should get rid of most of my personal library
« Reply #5 on: January 21, 2014, 12:31:42 PM »
A half full expedit isn't much, honestly. Pare down where you can, but keep the rest. And this is advice from a librarian who actually kind of hates owning so many books because they get so darn dusty.

smalllife

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Re: Help me decide whether I should get rid of most of my personal library
« Reply #6 on: January 21, 2014, 12:56:10 PM »
"Part of the struggle is that a normal public library likely won't have a lot of these- many of them are very academic books that I acquired (at a high price) during grad school."

Based on this statement I wouldn't get rid of them.
+1

+1

Actually, I would use this as a vote TO move on.  Are you keeping the books as proof that you passed the classes, either to yourself or visitors who see your bookshelf?  Will the material become outdated?  Not on the internet?  Are you seeing the money you spent and feel like it would be wasted if you got rid of the books?  Have you actually looked at them since grad school?

I felt the same way about my entire collection of high school and college books.  Many were academic but probably not as expensive as the ones you are talking about.  My family is also highly focused on education and books, but I realized the books were more trophies than books.  They served many purposes - mementos, proof that I had gone to college, made me look educated, etc. etc.   Then I realized that I didn't need to impress anyone and began to think that keeping all the books from my past was preventing me from reinventing my future.  I kept a few reference books and a few favorites, vowed to try and read new books rather than re reading, and now have 15 books on paper (I do have a Kindle with all of the classics - available free online)

lsalinas

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Re: Help me decide whether I should get rid of most of my personal library
« Reply #7 on: January 21, 2014, 01:29:15 PM »
I used to have 2 bookshelves full of books plus several in the closet because I was in a one bedroom apartment and didn't have room for more than 2 bookshelves.  I had been relocated to Pennsylvania and then laid off less than two years later.  I found a new job in California  but the new job wasn't going to pay for relocation.  I had to decide how I was going to move cross country and how much it would cost.   I wasn't moving my furniture or anything big or heavy so I was able to pack up my clothes, coffeemaker, pots and pans and just UPS them to myself for a few hundred dollars.  However, moving the books would have cost a lot via UPS so I decided to sell, donate and throw out all but the very most important books.

The circumstances of my move are probably really different from your move.  I had no furniture to move because I threw it all away.  Even though I was in a swanky neighborhood and a fancy apartment building we had numerous bedbug problems and so I wasn't going to keep any of my furniture and risk bringing bedbugs to my new apartment (I also wasn't going to sell or donate the furniture and risk giving somebody else bedbugs).  That was three years ago but I don't ever miss any of the books that I got rid of and having the extra open space feels good too!   

Nords

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Re: Help me decide whether I should get rid of most of my personal library
« Reply #8 on: January 21, 2014, 02:18:14 PM »
One thing I'm struggling with now is getting rid of my books. I have one of these guys right now: http://www.ikea.com/us/en/catalog/products/40047675/, and I use about half of it to store books, and also store books all across the top ledge.
I'm moving soon, and am thinking about getting rid of a large majority (3/4) of these books. I'd keep 1) the ones I really like, re-read often, and lend to others often, and 2) the ones I'm still very interested in reading in the near future (next 2 years).
Do you think it's wise for me to get rid of the rest? I'm struggling a bit with what to do, because I really like them, and probably will want to read them again someday. But, on the other hand, I don't see myself reading them again in the next 2 years, which is the normal question I ask myself before getting rid of my other possessions.
What do you think? Should I just suck it up and get rid of them? Have you ever gotten rid of most of your personal library, and if so, did you regret it?
Awareness is the first step in your journey to minimalism.

I lugged around my graduate-degree books for about a decade.  Luckily the textbooks for computer science and weapons engineering turn into steampunk history pretty quickly, so I had no problem getting rid of them.  My spouse uses her textbooks & notes as her memory, however even the advances in oceanography and meteorology have rendered most of hers irrelevant.  Your textbooks will eventually get so far out of date that you'll be happy to say goodbye.

At one point I owned over 3000 paperbacks.  Eventually I discovered that the library carried 90% of them, and that the other 10% weren't as interesting as the new works in my favorite genres.  You could read your favorites one more time, find a new author in that field (to borrow from the library), and donate your old ones to the library. 

That tactic left me with 200 "favorite" paperbacks... until the tropical climate and the silverfish found them.  As the spare bedroom began to take on a characteristic mildewy stench, I went through them with my laptop.  I wrote down all the titles/authors in a spreadsheet and vowed to replace them with Kindle versions.  Two years later I'm still reading newer books from the library and I've had no desire to go after Kindle classics.

Today I have 46 hardcopy books left, and almost that many again on my iPad.  I should probably dump a dozen of the hardcopy books on my daughter and donate the rest.

Thegoblinchief

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Re: Help me decide whether I should get rid of most of my personal library
« Reply #9 on: January 21, 2014, 02:50:17 PM »
I laughed when I saw the size of the shelving unit. That's a LOT of books? Hah! My wife and I just pared down our library substantially and we're still at maybe 3x that (not including the hundreds of Kindle books that take up zero space).

Part of the struggle is that a normal public library likely won't have a lot of these- many of them are very academic books that I acquired (at a high price) during grad school. Something also just freaks me out about getting rid of books. I think it's because my family is very pro-education and pro-books.

If you will read or reference it within a year, keep it. If not, donate them TO the library (what we did with all of our academic stuff). There, now the library has it!

Alternatively, "store" your stuff on craigslist/ebay. I reference this portion of sacred scripture:

http://www.mrmoneymustache.com/2011/08/11/get-rich-with-craigslist/

MrsPete

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Re: Help me decide whether I should get rid of most of my personal library
« Reply #10 on: January 21, 2014, 03:21:51 PM »
How many of them have you needed in the last year?
How many are you likely to actually use in the future?
You say this information isn't likely to be available at the library -- is it likely to be on the internet? 

My suggestions:
Every time you use a book, attach a sticky note sticking up above the spine.  At the end of 2015, get rid of any book that doesn't have either sentimental value, real monetary value, or a sticky note. 
Forget about the price you paid for them.  This was a part of the cost of your education.  If you're not using them NOW, they're not necessary. 
Recognize the "cost" of keeping books:  You must house them in some sort of bookshelf, you must dust them, you might even have to reinforce the flooring of your house because of their weight.  And then they get old and fall apart. 

And, in answer to your original question, yes, I have purged many, many books -- also a very pro-education, pro-book family -- and I do not miss them.  I do appreciate the extra space in my house.  There was one book that my college daughter needed for a project -- we got it from the library. 

Khan

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Re: Help me decide whether I should get rid of most of my personal library
« Reply #11 on: January 21, 2014, 05:54:48 PM »
How many of them have you needed in the last year?
How many are you likely to actually use in the future?
You say this information isn't likely to be available at the library -- is it likely to be on the internet? 

My suggestions:
Every time you use a book, attach a sticky note sticking up above the spine.  At the end of 2015, get rid of any book that doesn't have either sentimental value, real monetary value, or a sticky note. 
Forget about the price you paid for them.  This was a part of the cost of your education.  If you're not using them NOW, they're not necessary. 
Recognize the "cost" of keeping books:  You must house them in some sort of bookshelf, you must dust them, you might even have to reinforce the flooring of your house because of their weight.  And then they get old and fall apart. 

And, in answer to your original question, yes, I have purged many, many books -- also a very pro-education, pro-book family -- and I do not miss them.  I do appreciate the extra space in my house.  There was one book that my college daughter needed for a project -- we got it from the library.

Hmm, I'm gonna do a modified version of this sticky note thing. I already know which books I definitely -won't- be getting rid of, but I can put myself on notice for the ones I will probably get rid of in the near future.

Thanks MrsPete!

KittyFooFoo

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Re: Help me decide whether I should get rid of most of my personal library
« Reply #12 on: January 21, 2014, 06:53:01 PM »
We got rid of a ton of books over the past couple years.  Most of them were fiction books that one of us had read once and enjoyed, but which we were unlikely to touch again.  No regrets.

But, I am a serious chess player, and there is no fuckin way I was about to get rid of even a single chess book.  I have maybe 30, plus a few math and poker books.  Similar to your situation, these are books the library won't carry, which can be expensive, which carry nostalgic value, and which--most importantly--I am likely to reread.

So, maybe it would be useful to break your books up into must keep/maybe/don't care groups.

Rural

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Re: Help me decide whether I should get rid of most of my personal library
« Reply #13 on: January 21, 2014, 09:44:17 PM »
I'm currently suffering a great deal because I can't find one book and notebook from grad school. Suddenly I'm teaching the course in question for the first time, and my life for the last coulple of weeks and the next several months would be 1,000 times better if I could filnd those things. I have most of everything else, and most of it I've used hundreds of times over the years. If there's a remote chance of you going into academia, keep them. You'll need your books, with your marginal notes, and another copy will not substitute. Keep notebooks, too. With the books if possible.

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Re: Help me decide whether I should get rid of most of my personal library
« Reply #14 on: January 22, 2014, 12:18:53 AM »
"Part of the struggle is that a normal public library likely won't have a lot of these- many of them are very academic books that I acquired (at a high price) during grad school."

Based on this statement I wouldn't get rid of them.
+1

+1

I disagree.

Sell them for what you can get for them.  If and when you need them again*, purchase a used copy on Amazon.  Bonus: the copy you pick up will probably be a more recent edition than the one you used to have!

Amazon can store them for you though, as long as it's the book itself you're interested in, and not that specific copy (based on its highlightings, margin notes, etc.).

*You won't.
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Osprey

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Re: Help me decide whether I should get rid of most of my personal library
« Reply #15 on: January 22, 2014, 04:30:04 AM »
I agree with the commenters saying get rid of the academic books, especially if you don't use them! They will depreciate as they become outdated. I got rid of all of my medical textbooks and just use online journals now. The only one I kept has full-colour photos of a million dermatological diseases, which I think is kinda cool. I guess depending on your field of study and whether or not you plan to go into academia, this plan might backfire.
Also depends on if you are a Kindle person or not.