Book Divestment

23:53 Thu 26 Mar 2009. Updated: 01:05 27 Mar 2009
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Having decided a while back that I would, today I finally got rid of some books by selling them, first at Moe’s and then the remainder at Half Price Books. It’s taken me a long time to get to the point where I can even contemplate getting rid of books, but I came up with a single criterion that I find extremely useful: for each book, I ask myself whether I would want to buy it if I didn’t already have it, and if the answer is no, I put it in the “get rid of” pile.

The list of books I brought in:

With the addition of about $14, I turned those into these (all used):

  • Perdido Street Station, by China Miéville; I’m a big fan of this book, but my copy went astray some time back.
  • The Inheritance of Loss, by Kiran Desai.
  • Gateway, by Frederik Pohl.
  • Speaker for the Dad, by Orson Scott Card.
  • The Metastases of Enjoyment: On Women and Causality, by Slavoj Žižek.
  • Dreamsnake, by Vonda N. McIntyre.
  • Rendezvous with Rama, by Arthur C. Clarke.
  • The Sea, by John Banville.

So, 14 books into 8: progress! Furthermore, many of the 14 were large, with a bunch of hardbacks, whereas the 8 are mostly small paperbacks: more progress!

There’s certainly a long way to go, but it’s definitely a good start; also, going to Moe’s and getting books as part of the process is excellent positive reinforcement.

(In the “unable to let go” section, I’ll note that I can’t really give up books that I haven’t read, at least not so far, and also can’t give them up until I’ve entered their data into Freebase…)

2 Responses to “Book Divestment”

  1. Stephen Casey Says:

    I’ve got a pile of 300-400 books sitting in the playroom wondering what their fate will be. If we only lived in somewhere as saturated in intelligencia as SF the options might be more open. I’d kill to turn them into 100-200 books, or preferably a ‘whatever book you want’ account for a year or two.

    Oh, and I read “The Sea” recently and thought it was up there with many other great Irisih literary feats: Probably good, but essentially unreadable. Maybe my habit of reading a half dozen pages last thing at night isn’t helping there though.

  2. Tadhg Says:

    I started out wanting to donate the books to the SF public library, but they’re not accepting donations as they’re still working their way through the books from their last donation round 18 months ago. Then some friends suggested BookMooch, which is fantastic in principle, but I just can’t seem to get myself to the post office often enough to make it work for me.

    After leaving the ones I’d selected for elimination in a bag for about six months, I eventually decided that bringing them to Moe’s was the best approach, and that hopefully the payoff of getting new books would help encourage me to keep eliminating books via this method… we’ll see if it works.

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