BioBooksAwardsComing NextContactBlogFun StuffHome

Thursday, April 26, 2012

And Then I Hit Fiction Part 1

On Tuesday, I talked about culling books from my non-fiction collection. Today, I'll talk about my fiction library.

Since the day I started buying books, I've almost never gotten rid of one. I have a distinct memory of turning in some books at a Used Book Store (UBS) in the Twin Cities and turning around the next weekend and rebuying some of them. Yeah, I am an Obsessive Book Hoarder and topping 5000 books proved that.

There was no choice now, though. My employer is only paying to move 12,000 pounds and books are heavy. Since I need things like furniture and bedding, a deep cut was necessary.

I started with the boxes. I had 48 boxes of books and I figured if I didn't have the title on my shelf to re-read, it was a candidate to go. All the titles (more or less) are in a spreadsheet I have, so I worked with that open on the table in front of me. This wasn't too much help on the early boxes because I didn't start recording my thoughts on the books I'd read until later.

The rule of thumb here was if I read the book blurb and had no memory of the story, it wasn't a keeper. There was one problem with this method, though. I was tempted to read some of these books. They sounded interesting.

Other books surprised me with how dated they felt. The time travel books were particularly susceptible to this. What was fresh in its day, now seemed overdone. I kept a few special ones that I remembered fondly, but the rest went into the Go Box.

I make this sound simple, so cut and dried, but it wasn't. I'm emotionally attached to my books. This has lessened from its peak, but it was still an issue for me. A lot of titles went into the Maybe Box.

There were authors, too, that had written some books I really, really, really loved. When I read a book that hit for me on all levels, I would run out and start hunting those authors' backlists. I had to have every book they'd ever written. Not all of them were as awesome for me. I had to accept that I could keep the books I loved and get rid of the ones that didn't pass the threshold.
The spreadsheet became handier when I started rating the books. In the early days, there were only number grades. 7 out of 10 was what I expected from an average book. Having a number grade made it easier because I was able to see what I thought of a book and get rid of it without reading the back cover. No temptation that way. :-)

Later, I began adding comments in addition to ratings. This was a double-edged sword. Like back cover copy, it tempted me to re-read the book I was looking at. Some of them anyway.

I didn't reach the shelves until the fourth day.