I love books. I love reading. I love libraries.
And like many lovers of books, I dreamed about having my own library. The library in Beauty and the Beast would be ideal, but barring that, a room in my house packed with books seemed delightful enough on its own.
I used to own a significant number of books, well on my way to establishing my library. By the end of seminary, Andy and I had a whole wall of bookshelves in our cabin, filled with seminary books and books from college and books from growing up and books we loved. I can't remember how many boxes there were when we moved, but there were a lot.
Since then, due to a series of unfortunate events, we have moved four times in the last 2.5 years. That is too many times. And with all of that moving came tons of packing, and mostly packing tons of books.
Moving, though awful, can clarify things. Do you really want to haul that ugly vase across the country? What are you holding on to that third winter coat for? Is that distinguished-looking but HEAVY dresser the best fit for your itinerant lifestyle?
I soon realized I was asking this question: is it really worth it to haul around all of these books?
I searched in my heart and discovered to my shock that the answer was: no. Definitely not.
I was dismayed by this revelation. Who was I? Did I still love books? Did I still love reading? I performed a deep moral inventory and discovered that those things were still true. But I no longer aspired to having a library in my own house. Libraries are all very well and good for Beasts who live in palaces, or actual libraries--they don't move. I do. And I realized that I could still value books and reading without personally owning a million of them.
We slowly began to sell our books and give others away. At this point I would estimate we've cut our collection down to a third of what we originally started with. How did we decide what to keep?
Essentially we Marie Kondoed them and kept all intensive joy-sparking books. These are books we love with a high-level of re-readability. Or maybe they were a gift. Or maybe they are especially good-looking. Whatever the reason, if they sparked joy, they stayed. My books include everything from theological works to my collection of Junie B. Jones.
We also saved reference works that we might have a hard time accessing at the public library. Andy saved some commentaries and things like that.
Now, when I actually buy books, I often try to get them on Kindle. Yes, the Kindle doesn't feel like a real book, but it has a light in it so I can read late at night without turning on my bedside lamp and bothering my husband #winning. And I don't have to pack them up when we move #winningevenmore. But far more often I go the library and get on the ol' waitlist.
Some of you might be screaming in agony, "But ALL of my books spark joy! I could never part with a single one!" And that's totally cool! Whatever works for you! But what's currently working for me is not having to pack up one billion books every time we move. All the books I do own I love, and I do not begrudge them the box space. And when we get to next place, I will make a beeline to the actual library that contains books I don't have to move. What a great place.