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Is this extreme? (getting rid of books)

post #1 of 85
Thread Starter 
We had a yard sale last weekend and got rid of almost all of our fiction books. I have about two boxes left. They're mostly non-fiction, some coffee table type books. Just some interesting things to read through.

Oh, I also have about 15 cook books but I plan to pare those down to the ones I use.

What I'm wondering is - is it nuts to get rid of almost everything except a few cookbooks, a dictionary, an atlas, and some really nice coffee table books (think "the earth from above" for example or some really great photography books from Lebanon, where I'm from)?

We live a short 5 minute walk from the library. I've never lived anywhere where the library wasn't at least a short bike ride away, and mostly walking distance. And we've always been able to request whatever books we want through the inter library loan system. So, would you do it? No books in the house except for a few reference ones you own, and the ones you've checked out?
post #2 of 85
Do I think it's nuts? Yes. More than that, the thought of getting rid of all books is appalling. Why would you?

Personally, I think a home without at least a couple of well-stocked bookshelves is not a home. (Exceptions obviously made for people without the financial resources).

The stuff in our home (beyond what's truly essential to support life) sends a clear message to our children about what we value. In our home we value literacy and reading. Yes, we go to the library, too, and regularly. But we don't live at the library, we live in our home. Books are a source of delight to everyone in my family. I can't imagine living in a house barren of them.
post #3 of 85
I don't think it's insane at all. You can always get more at the library. I think it's a very sane idea.

As for modeling...bringing them home from the library frequently is perfect for that.
post #4 of 85
Thread Starter 
Originally Posted by zinemama View Post
The stuff in our home (beyond what's truly essential to support life) sends a clear message to our children about what we value. In our home we value literacy and reading. Yes, we go to the library, too, and regularly. But we don't live at the library, we live in our home. Books are a source of delight to everyone in my family. I can't imagine living in a house barren of them.
Well I beg to differ. First, we practically DO live at the library. Second, as I said, we use the library a lot. This means that while we won't OWN that many books, we will HOUSE books temporarily. I don't need to OWN the books I feel like reading, you know?

I should clarify that we have, at any given time, at least twenty books for my daughter who is two years old checked out from the library. We go at LEAST 3-5 a week and read there for about an hour or so. This is aside from the hours of reading done at home.

I've pared down the collection of what she owns to about 20 also. I should also point out that we read to her an insane amount. She lives for books. She loves books. She started memorizing books before the age of two and can recite a lot of it after one or two readings. So books are very much a part of my daughter's life. There are times I want to tear my hair out from reading too many books!!

She also sees me reading a lot. And when I'm done with that book, I take it back to the library. I don't need to "own" it to have the knowledge in that books.

So what's why I would get rid of books. It might seem nuts to some people, but I challenged the need to own books since we moved almost 5 months ago and I still hadn't unpacked my books! That's when I realized... do we really need to own all these books?

I invite more opinions...
post #5 of 85
I don't think that it's insane, no. It's not what I would do, because I very frequently re-read books, but even so, I've gotten rid of a very large percentage of my books. I've kept the ones that I actually do re-read or refer to frequently, and some that I love and that are hard to obtain - the long-out-of-print books that I had to wishlist on Powell's or watch for on eBay for a some time before they turned up.

As a child, most of my reading came from the library - we went every single week and brought many books home. There were plenty of books in my parents' house, but they never actually read them - they were essentially wallpaper. My parents influenced me to read, but that was all about our regular trips to the library, and nothing to do with the stale, un-read books at home.

So my only issue is that you might want to hang on to some of your daughter's very favorite books, because they do go out of print. On the other hand, it's been fun to find my childhood favorites on eBay, so maybe it's just fine for her to do the same thing someday.

post #6 of 85
I wish I had the guts to weed through mine. We are VORACIOUS readers, and we visit the library 2 or 3 times a week. All of us are usually reading 2 or 3 books at the same time. Unfortunately, we are warehousing thousands of books in our home, most of which have been read once and now are just being "owned". I need to send them out into the world for someone else to enjoy, I just can't seem to let them go.
post #7 of 85
It's absolutely not nuts. Let the library store books, that's what they are there for. Going to the library is great for kids, they get exposed to a huge variety of styles and types of literature and that's wonderful. Your home is YOUR home, keep whatever you want in it. If you want to keep an extensive library, do it. If not, don't. Personally, I don't keep many books either. I love to go browse the library shelves and I find that I read a much bigger variety that way than I would just buying what I want to read, which if course has it's own limitations (budget, storage space, etc.).
post #8 of 85
kind of crazy, yea. i mean, don't keep around total drivel that you'll never crack open in an eternity, but....

it'd make me crazy if i wanted to immediately refer to something important i'd read before, and didn't own it.
post #9 of 85
Why are you keeping the cookbooks? There are a million recipes online.

If reading isn't your cup of tea/mug of cocoa I can totally see ditching already read fiction, but you want to be sure your kids've got enough to last between trips to the library. Young children love repetition so much that they'd probably prefer to have 10-20 books at home and just get like 2 occasionally from the library.
post #10 of 85
Originally Posted by MiriamF View Post
since we moved almost 5 months ago and I still hadn't unpacked my books! That's when I realized... do we really need to own all these books?
No. I'd still open the boxes and double check that the library carries any you know you'd want to reread, but if you, like my dh, don't reread, wait until the library's collecting for a book sale and donate them.
(and I'm at myself since what you said about your dd's books is exactly what I was thinking you should do if you had a 2-3 year old)
post #11 of 85
Have not read other responses.

When we moved 2 years ago, I donated alot of our books to the library. We went from a books-everywhere household to just 3 short bookshelf units full (which might be alot for some but was very little for us!) I don't regret it. I gave away books that were never going to be opened up and read again, or at least rarely (say, by an overnight guest) or waaaaayyy in the future (when my son is old enough for adult books). It seemed to me a shame to have them sit and gather dust when someone else (or many other people) could enjoy them. I kept reference books, treasured books that mean something to us, and books we might re-read. THis was before we had DS - now we have alot of children's books and those are staying for a long time. One thing I don't understand is when people put away the "baby" books because their child is now a toddler - my toddler still likes to look at the "baby" books and I can't see how that's a problem!
post #12 of 85
I don't think it's crazy, if you don't care for actually owning books. We've gotten rid of about 2/3 of ours, just kept books we use like some sewing and quilt books, my dog books, DH has some wine and technical books. Almost all the fiction I donated and haven't missed them. There's always another story or classic to find either at the library or secondhand.
The books our kids read have stayed untouched unless they were real babybooks and no longer interesting to them.
post #13 of 85
I think it's a great idea personally, especially if you don't have a ton of storage space.

I'd set up a whole shelf just for library books, so you don't risk misplacing them and returning them late.

However, we do own a whole bunch of books. Generally we like to purchase books that we've taken out of the library 3 or 4 times- if it's worth reading and rereading, it's worth owning it so you're not SOL if you're on the mood to read it but the library's copy is leant out to somebody else. I also have some books that my mom collected over the years and passed along to me- some of those I may pass along when I'm done with them (and when my kids are done with them).
post #14 of 85
It's not insane. I keep reference books, a few novels that I read over and over (To Kill a Mockingbird) and Sherlock Holmes. I keep only cookbooks that I use regularly. I love the library. DS is starting to like it too.

If DH were to weed out all his textbooks that he never opens, I'd have enough room for another family(not really).
post #15 of 85
In MY case, the library is almost useless. I have never been able to find a book that I need especially new/current books, computer software, etc. If I do get a book from the library, I always forget to return it.

I throw out all books are useless: old computer/software, travel guides, map books that are not current, business, tax, law books that are not relevant or books I know I will never read again and keep the rest. I also have a small collection of vintage books that I love, classics, self-help books, health, etc. The library or even internet is not a good alternative for me.

ETA: I DO go to the library for music scores that I need to review for chours before I decide to buy them (need to mark them up) , but that is it.

If the library works for you, I’m jealous!
post #16 of 85
We have gotten rid of most of our books lately and I'm very happy with it. We also live close to the library and I think it will be just as good to take DD to the library and borrow books. If she ever really treasures a book, we have the option of buying it but this way we won't spend excess amounts of money and devote a lot of space to books we will read once or twice.
post #17 of 85
I have a friend who lives NEXT DOOR to her library. I am soooooooo jealous.
post #18 of 85
Thread Starter 
I think we are pretty good at having what everyone else has suggested we wouldn't have if we got rid of all books.

1) Wanting to re-read books. Patience is a virtue, right? Maybe I've got the wrong personality for that but even my very impatient two year old understands that when she suddenly remembers one of her favorite books that we checked out of the library, then she has to wait until they are open (if she remembers at night) and if it's checked out - then until it's available. There is so much more to life than re-reading that one book immediately! Of course she knows we can immediately read the books that we own.

2) Returning books: a few people mentioned not being able to keep track of library books and returning them on time. But to me that's what`decluttering is all about! We are never late returning books. We keep them as long as possible and return them when they're too. Because we don't have a million other things in our space at home, it isn't hard to keep track of library books.

3) My daughter is growing up in a world of books without shelves of books lining the walls and taking up space in our home.

4) I am still keeping some beautiful books to browse through, reference books, etc. It will probably be about 15-20 books total.

5) I often think of the poor children who inherit thousands of books when their parents die. It might be nice to build a library in your own house, maybe if you don't have access to one but in general I've grown to view buying books very often as wasteful and surely those thousands of books can't be THAT valuable to have your kids deal with them when you die, right?

6) Our heavy usage of the library makes me feel better about paying taxes. I pretend that all my taxes are going towards services that I use, while someone who supports the war in Iraq, for example, can pretend their tax money is going just to war.

I'm sure there are all sorts of happy mediums for different folks but I'm glad others agree that it isn't nuts. Our solution might be a little bit more on the extreme side, but to me, it's freeing!
post #19 of 85
I think it depends on the kind of reader you are. If you read something once or twice and rarely again then it doesn't make sense to own it. If the library is pretty close by and has a great selection then you probably don't need it in your home.

My family would honestly be more comfortable ditching the cookbooks, coffee table books, dictionary and atlas than fiction books. We can use the internet/computer for looking up words, maps, or recipes. Coffee table books get looked at once or twice by us and then gather dust. I have a shelf of cookbooks but I could pare it down to 1 that we really use a lot.
We read a lot and re-read our books often so we like having shelves of books. We've also lived some distance away from a library and it is good for us to have a collection on hand between library trips. We also view some of our books as a collection or investment.
post #20 of 85
Not at all! After reading Walsh's It's all too much (borrowed from the library of course!), I kept only a couple dozen books. We rarely buy new and also live close to a library that happens to have awesome books sales. For me, I don't see value in having hundreds of books collecting dust and gave most of ours to the library for their sale. Kudos to you for paring down.
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