words, words, words

It amazes me to observe how much my psyche is tied up in my books. With the upcoming trip I’ll have to put my ebooks into storage, so it seems prudent to get rid of ones that I won’t be needing in the future. I’ve also got my Kindle, which I absolutely love, and part of my justification for getting it was that I could save house/storage space by obtaining digital copies of books.

That said, the titles on my bookshelves say who I was, who I am, and who I want to be. If I replace them with my Kindle then I won’t have a physical reminder of who I am, and no way to show that off to visitors. When I set up a home one of the first things I do is deploy the bookshelves and unload the books. That makes it feel way more like home. Screw my dishes – as long as I have a plate and a fork I’m good for a couple weeks.

Going through this purge feels like a multifaceted assault on my self-identity. What makes it even harder is that I notice all the self-judgement and “shoulding” when I look through the books.. There’s the literature that I’ve been meaning to get around to reading, and I’ll be a better person once I’ve read them. Others are nonfiction for hobbies that I don’t have yet but I’m sure I’ll have at any moment as soon as I have time and space for them. Then there’s the books for hobbies I used to have that I don’t keep up with anymore and feel bad for not keeping up with them. They say to me “hey man, you were really into this, why aren’t you doing it anymore?”

I’m aiming to cut out about half of them this go around. Delicious Library has been particularly useful in this endeavor – I feel that if I at least record what books I had, then I’ll be able to get them again later (or get digital copies to read when I actually have time to read them). I really have no idea how the true nomads manage to get rid of EVERYTHING for good. Maybe I’ll get more of a taste for that as I travel, but for now, I really like the idea of having a home full of books to come back to.

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  1. Dario
    Posted May 5, 2012 at 10:24 am | Permalink

    Your stuff does define you, partly, you’re right. Your home is your own personal power amplifier. Are you really a geek if nobody knows you are a geek? Yes, but not a super geek. Whatever you are, it means more if others know it. But your stuff also owns you. Don’t sell that part of the experience short. You are a composer who is moving out of his auditorium and suddenly realizing that all the reverb in his compositions is optional now. You have been making concessions on behalf of the stuff, even the books! You will develop a style independent of these surroundings now in a way you never could before. Who knows? You might even come back a minimalist. Considering how close you guys are to Eastern philosophy, there could be some major changes developing when you molt and live without that old skin for a while. Best of times and luck to you.

  2. Merrily Boone
    Posted October 3, 2012 at 6:03 pm | Permalink

    Unfortunately your “letting go” gene is blocked on both sides. I am cleaning out the upstairs and some days I think I’m doing it one book at a time.