Giving Away My Library (Well, Most Of It)

Friday, May 06, 2011
I love books.

In fact, until recently I owned about 5,000 of them.

Note: These are real books - paper and ink and leather and glue. I am sure I will get a Kindle or Nook someday but I will be one of the last resistors. I love the tactile nature of a book, the fact that it gets worn like some sort of Biblio-Velveteen Rabbit, that I can underline in it, even how it smells.

But we're out of room.

At any given moment there are between three and five people living in our townhouse in South Charlotte. Beckett is due any day now, which means three to six. And for some strange reason Miranda thinks the little guy needs his own room. Our townhouse is less than 1,500 square feet and there's just not a place to put all my books.

So I had to pare down, by selling or giving some away.

Human babies are expensive, ya'll - to misquote Britney Spears via Saturday Night Live - so the selling option looked like a good one. Only the Great Recession has hit used bookstores too - they aren't buying. And I didn't have the time or inclination to do it book by book through the mail. So some had to be given away.

Only I didn't want to. Didn't want to like a five year old doesn't want to go to bed. I pouted, whined, kicked and screamed. I acted like Alan Alda in some movie from the 1970's..."but what about MY needs?". My wife was so proud.

But time and Miranda's pregnancy advanced. Something had to be done. So I offered a bunch to the staff here at Next Level and gave box after box to the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Public Library book sale, which was a good cause. As my son Justin and I lugged the boxes in, the volunteer ladies at the sale were - I gotta say - impressed. Most of the donations they were seeing were worn paperbacks by such literary luminaries as Danielle Steel and James Patterson.

My stuff was good, though, man - fine volumes of theology and history and biography and sociology and political science and literature.

It hurt. But it was good. Not only because of the practical necessity but because it was good for me spiritually.

Here was my give-away criteria. If I had not read or in some way profited from a book for more than two years it was eligible to go. Not every book that fit that criteria went - there is such a thing as sentimental value. But very many of them did. Books I never before would have considered giving away.

So now my shelves (and I still have a lot of books, mind you) are freshened and more focused. The stuff in there now is all good - but it is a lean offering compared to the recent past.

The process got me wondering about the stuff I keep in my life that should also be given away.

Old habits, grudges, possessions, hurts, assumptions, relationships that have declined in value or are taking up needed space or are no longer serving a purpose. Things that may even be taking up space that could and should be given to something newer and better. Things that may even be crowding out something new God wants to do in my life.

What about you? Are there things in your life you need to give away?

Even if the thought of it makes you feel like a cranky five year old?

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