I'd probably be in the minority here, but I would get rid of a lot of things before I'd get rid of books. Honestly, I could deal with having two days worth of clothes (though it wouldn't be fun), no furniture, etc. but not without our books.
That said, here are the books I've gotten rid of over the years:
- Popular series (like Harry Potter, Boxcar Kids, etc), though we had very few of these
- Most of my college textbooks: I kept most of my science/math books, but got rid of political science, econ, anthropology, etc. I've kept the best supplementary books that I got in these subjects, though, when I knew they were the standards in their fields.
- Books that we've never read AND when honest had no intention to read
- Books that we don't like (the exceptions to this are works of philosophy/theology by significant thinkers with opposite viewpoints)
- Books that were outdated or reference works that don't get used
- Most of my cookbooks and gardening/homesteading books: I've limited myself to one shelf for each category, meaning the things we have are the best on the topic.
- Individual children's books/stories if we had more than one copy or if that story was in an anthology that we had (for example, I got rid of books that had one fairy tale if that fairy tale was in our volume of fairy tales) and most picture books
- Books on current events/commentary
- Most biographies
The above includes most of the books I've gotten at used book sales for $1 or less because they looked interesting and were cheap.
Things I've kept and will keep:
- Sound theology and philosophy
- Classic literature
- Anything by the Greeks/Romans
- Language textbooks (I did go through them to get rid of ones that weren't very good) and books written in foreign languages that we can read
- DH's books
- Children's books that I want my children to read over and over
My mother had a rule for us kids growing up: if we found ourselves checking a particular book from the library over and over, she'd buy it. I think that's a good rule for kids' books, except for classic children's literature. I don't even remember most of the stuff I borrowed from the library as a kid. This is the rule I'll have for my children's "leisure reading."
My problem with the library is that they do not always have the books I need and if they do, it's usually checked out or worse, it's lost. I do make an effort to check out a book from the library before buying it though (I've avoided buying many books that were not worth the money this way).
I already have many of the homeschooling books I'll use with Ladybug and my rule is "less is more." I'd rather have one fantastic book that can be used as a textbook for a few years, then several mediocre actual textbooks that are based on some "curriculum." One example off the top of my head is The Handbook of Nature Study versus a bunch of science textbooks.
BTW, when my mother taught me to read I had only two or three "readers." I read those over and over and then jumped straight into fairy tales.
Also, I'm not a fan of electronic readers. When the electricity turns off (which happens frequently here), we'll always have books. We have the Robinson Homeschool Curriculum on CD and to be honest, I think I'm going to find the books I like most and hunt down used hard copies.