Tuesday, June 5, 2012

The Great Book Dump

By August, we'll be residents of Las Vegas. No question. So it had to be done anyway. I thought it'd be done later. A Salvation Army truck would come, or some recycling truck by appointment to take it all away, except what I really needed. Frustration won out. Frustration over not being able to find Strawberry Shortcake Murder by Joanne Fluke in my room. Before, it had always been on top of one of two of my DVD binders, either the left one or the right one depending on what else I had stacked on top of each, but always there. But nothing this time. Did I move it to another stack? Did I tuck it into one of the former moving boxes that I've been using as bookshelves for the past nearly eight years? I wanted to read this second of the Hannah Swensen Mysteries to see if I wanted to continue the series, since I liked the first one, Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder. Slight, but fun to read.

I went to my room to look for it. I checked the right side of my room, the stacks next to my bed. I checked the left side of my room, stacks encroaching upon my bed. Books began to fall from the bookshelf box on the far right side of my room. I tried pushing them back in, but they kept falling out. I had them stacked in such a way that gravity could not have fun at my expense. Knowing that the stacks were no longer protected, down they went, again and again. I got so frustrated that I shoved books away that were next to me on my right, and two floor stacks fell. I couldn't take it anymore. I love books, but I reached my limit, and my favorite books were now buried in this pile. My first thought was hoping that I hadn't bent them by accident. My second thought was that all this had to go. Right now. The garbage and recycling bins were at the curb to be picked up in the morning and there was still room in each of them. I deeply apologize to fellow bibliophiles who might be incensed by what I'm about to say, but I had to do it. I was drowning in books and it didn't matter to me if they went into the recycling bin or the garbage bin. I was going to use the space that was left, and as I found out, there was plenty in each. In fact, one more bag can go into the recycling bin, and I'm going to do that once I order Strawberry Shortcake Murder again and shut down this computer.

It's 1:12 a.m. and I've been at it since 11:30 last night. I couldn't handle the monster that it had become, the monster that I willingly created because I love books so much. I had books that I ordered on the recommendation of friends, that I had read and enjoyed. But they didn't feel like me. Some of the time, I wasn't reading what I wanted to read. Until the past month, my Las Vegas book stack remained tall. I began shrinking the stack not only because we'll be moving there soon, but also because that's where I want to be. That's where I'll thrive. I want to know absolutely everything about it. And then there's a neglected book about the making of Blade Runner and an equally neglected book about the history of the banana. I love Blade Runner, and I love bananas. Why haven't I read these books yet? I ditched two biographies about Supreme Court justices William Brennan and Felix Frankfurter. I'm not intimidated by large books, but I can't read these right now because I don't have the time. I'll seek them out again once I have my Clark County library card. Oh, a library! What a dream! I'll have a library again! After control of the Santa Clarita libraries passed from the County of Los Angeles to the City of Santa Clarita, I didn't get a new library card because I hated how the City Council effectively cut off the city from the rest of Los Angeles. Santa Clarita is already isolated enough by mountains and freeways. Why make it worse?

The worst thing about all these stacks in my room was that I couldn't get to my favorite books. They're in a box on the floor and they were covered up by two stacks of books in front of it. When I wanted one of my favorite books, I had to perform a most precarious ballet, moving those stacks out every so slightly to where I could reach into that box, find the book I wanted, and pull it out without upsetting those stacks. I couldn't take it anymore. I need those books at all times and they should always be easy to get.

With the exception of the books that fell out of that far-right box, I'm not dumping any other books from any of the other bookshelf boxes. Those can wait until later, or the next day. My biggest concern was getting my floor space back. Right now, having dumped what must have been at least 200 books, I have carpets again. On my bed is an explosion of books that I'm going to keep for now and choose from whenever I need another book. These are higher-priority books, including Super Mario: How Nintendo Conquered America by Jeff Ryan, and Starting from Happy by Patricia Marx, one of my favorite New Yorker writers. I want to read these and others. They won't be buried like they were before. And if I don't get to them before we move (my permanent collection is my most important priority), I'll just write down the titles and look for them in my local libraries.

Despite all this, I've ordered more books. That would seem to defeat the purpose of the Great Book Dump, but 90% of them are Star Trek novels, which I will read as soon as they arrive. For example, Star Trek Vanguard: Summon the Thunder by Dayton Ward and Kevin Dilmore, arrived in yesterday's mail and I started it last night. If I had ordered only the books I wanted to read over time, I don't think I would have had such massive stacks in my room. I wanted to read all those books when I ordered them, but my interest in most of them faded, as I discovered during this.

I know those books could have gone to Goodwill, or the Salvation Army, or organizations in the Santa Clarita Valley that distribute books to poor people. I've donated a slew of books to Goodwill, and the only location we go to is the truck in Golden Valley, behind the Target shopping center, and we don't go there all the time. I couldn't take these stacks anymore and I had to do this. It'll be less for me to think about when we begin preparing to move, and I get clear insight into what I'm truly interested in reading. I'm devouring these Star Trek novels, and want more science fiction, and I've found a few science fiction novels in my room to read alongside my lifetime goal. I want to reread some favorites in my permanent collection. I want to read that book about the making of Blade Runner. I want to take pleasure in reading, not just from a really good book, but also in feeling close to books by having fewer stacks, not to be frustrated by their largess. This needed to be done, I did it, and I'm much happier. I'm not going to let this happen again. Books are my life, and as long as there's a steady stream, I'm satisfied with my life. I'm comfortable with them again, and I'm not going to lose sight of that. No more haphazard collecting; only what I truly want for my permanent collection, and what I want to read, and will read, right then and there. I feel much better.


  1. Oh, sweetie, I won't shout at you, but is there some way you can take that last bag and donate it to a public library?

    1. Yep. But that box of books (I fit those books into a box) isn't going to any of the public libraries here, since I don't support that City action. They're going to Goodwill and there'll be more books to come as I shrink more of those stacks in my room.

    2. Thank you for adding a little more of my kind of organization to your life.

    3. You're welcome. I would have had to do it anyway very soon, and better that it be driven by frustration over not being able to find the book I wanted, while keeping in mind those books I want to keep for now, until I absolutely have to let them go.