The day I have dreaded for years is here. I have the sad task of weeding out my book collection. When we talk about simplicity in Apprentice classes, we suggest that when we buy a tee-shirt or a pair of “must-have” shoes, we go to our closet and chose something similar to give away or sell. That is no problem for me. I long ago accepted Richard Foster’s advice to wear your clothes until they wear out. (I know he followed that because I over several years I saw him wear the same sweater in nearly every video or to every speaking engagement.)
However, I can’t seem to practice what I preach with books. So now I have several bookcases crammed with books at home. Thinking proactively, I have already begun the task of lugging bagful after bagful of what what must be 200 books that have found a home in my office in the last five years.
So it is time to prune! My first go-round consumed more than an hour and resulted in a box of maybe 30 books, each of which received a trial by jury (me) before they were judged unnecessary and sentenced to the box. It was a miserable experience. One book was later determined to be falsely charged and released from the box to the bookcase – but only because I found the following inscription on the first page: “For Karen -who taught me how difficult and rewarding it is to write well.”
All of you book lovers know how hard it is to part with a book and the rationale we use to keep them: I might need it someday. My son gave it to me. It’s a classic; who gives away a classic? I never finished reading it; now I’ll have more time. It got me through rough times in my life. (I have seven hefty volumes by Charles Colson still on my shelf because of that statement.)
My husband is not a reader but he tries hard to understand (especially when I remind of the roomful of old computers, computer parts, and floppy disks (!) we finally got rid of after moving them across the state.) But when I said, “I need another bookshelf” about 9 hours after I had informed him that this summer we were downsizing everything (furniture, tools, fishing rods, clothing, etc.) because we need to think about moving to a smaller abode, his look was enough to send me to the bookshelves and start weeding.
While I was on the floor surrounded by books, I found a great book by M.Scott Peck, MD called Abounding Grace, An Anthology of Wisdom. Paging through it, I found this quote, “For me, the capacity to embrace paradox – to perceive the validity of opposites, such as tolerance and intolerance, each in its own season – is a key to wisdom.” Rest assured, that book did not make it to the box!