When I moved furniture for minimal wage, we estimated the two densest things to move: textiles, then books. Bundles of rolled-up carpet were only beat by furniture. Large boxes of books might not seem bad until you have to move it a few times or the fatigue kicks in. All the boxes I’m using for books are smaller than around 12″ width, 12″ height, and 12″ depth. You never know who’ll give you a hand. Strong or otherwise.
My collection started off humbly.
A book here and there, collected over years, without curation. The problem is I’d rarely read. This resulted in a massive backlog that seemed impossible to start. I’ve finally cleared out everything else obscuring my boxes of books. Some were packed well, others, well, it was a pain to move. Now is the time for me to sort them into three primary piles: (1) have read already, (2) plan to read in the next 6 months [with my current pace of reading for 10 minutes daily-ish], and (3) plan to read in the next 6 years.
Everything else is slated to get donated.
If I have no current intention of reading a book within 6 years, why keep it? I am not beholden to books the same way bibliophiles are, which is certain heresy, but if I am disengaging with my attachment to many materialistic matters, that should include books. Why keep some 50-cent paperback I bought 10 years ago because something briefly caught my eye? If these curiosities still do not pique my interest, they’re just obstructions. It’s like pruning the dead branches of a tree to prevent the rest from dying.
I’m keeping one box of “6 month reads” readily available.
I have enough books in this box that, even if I were to read all day, every day, I’d still have enough books outside of deep storage to not need to re-read anything for a while, so there will be no reading draught. Having this harsh curation should inspire me to read. For example, I’m currently reading Elements of Style, and have five other books stacked underneath it: Brief Handbook for Writers, 4-Hour Workweek, Meeting With Remarkable Men, A Pocket Style Manual, and after the quake.
If I get bored with one, put it into deep storage or donate it.
There is no reason for me to put on heirs that I am more intelligent or well-read than I am. Having stumbled across these books by Gurdjieff and Murakami was more accidental, with a lingering curiosity remaining for over 5 years, so why not address these items first? They were the ones that floated to the top. I’m halfway through after the quake, so that will be easy to wrap up, but let’s say I become disinterested with Gurdjieff’s writing, or it’s too challenging: I have no obligations to read it.
Difficult obligations like this cause procrastination.
I am able to read and can contain my restless distraction for 10 minutes. It’s just if the book is boring or difficult, I’ll skip it.
|Sources: My personal/professional experiences.|
|Inspirations: I don’t have the interest to write a long series about what books I kept or some of the logistics. I did that with my CD collection already. Once I’m moved and have my books in deep storage, I’ll probably write more in-depth about this process, but it will look something like this: I want to read Book X. It is located in Box Y. Take Box Y out of storage and take another pass through everything in terms of keep or donate. I’m keeping most everything now, not so much out of guilt, but out of a sense that: “I might as well.” Six months or a year from now, that phrase will have less attachment to the books I kept on a whim, having bought on a whim, for no other reason than to consider reading it, someday.|
|Related: Other Moving Zeal essays.|
|Picture: Drawing of the books I have yet to catalog. Maybe I’ll put these books on a public listing somewhere so people could vote on what I should read next?|
|Written On: January 30th [30 minutes]|
|Last Edited: Almost a first draft; final draft, but I ended up editing quite a bit of the middle portion. I cut out many unncessary words, which freed me up to write about more fun stuff.|