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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Obsessive Book Hoarder Prunes Non-Fiction Collection

One of the things I needed to do as part of my move from Minneapolis to Atlanta was go through my book collection and prune it. Considerably. I had over 5000 fiction books and I don't know how many research and reference books, so it was a big job.

I started with my office and the non-fiction. That wasn't bad because so many of the writing reference books were either for writers who were just beginning or were horribly out of date. Sometimes both.

What was interesting to me was how many books I pulled on the second pass through the shelves. I was certain I'd grabbed everything that could go the first time, but those were merely the easy ones. There were some books I didn't look at—I just knew I was keeping them. That was probably a wrong decision given how many I found that could go, but I love the edition of the AP Stylebook I bought in college and it's coming with me. :-)

There were some books I kept on pass one thinking they'd be helpful, but on pass two, I realized the internet made them unnecessary. Do I really need a History of the World book? One volume, no matter how thick, is hardly comprehensive and I can find the same overview information online easily.

This actually became one of my questions as I tested the worthiness of a reference book—would I go to the shelf and use it or would I just hop online and do a search? The titles that passed this test were generally topic specific and meatier sources of information. Maybe I could find this info online, but probably not as easily as in the book.

After I was done, I spent some time admiring the bookcase in my office. It looked so nice and organized. I even freed up enough shelf space that I didn't have to pile books two deep and could see what I had in one glance. It pains me to admit that I discovered references that would have come in handy if I'd only known I owned them.