I have too many books. Help!

This house is full of books. The room I’m in now has bookcases along every wall and most of them are double stacked.
There are bookcases in the living room and the dining room.
There are books in the kitchen.
There are piles of books next to the bed.
The kids all have a couple of bookcases each in their rooms.
We’re talking thousands and not hundreds of books.

I came across a review of a book online that sounded like my kind of thing so I ordered it from Amazon. It arrived this morning and I tried to find a home for it until I have a chance to read it. I knew exactly which two books it would fit between based on the author and subject so I went to that shelf. And there it was already. I bought it and read it maybe 7 or 8 years ago. This is not the first time this has happened.

Am I going senile? (I’m 40 next week), or is this a common problem with so many books? How do others cope with keeping track?

Have you considered getting a Kindle or other e-reader?

Yes, but I’m old fashioned and I love the tactile feel of books. If I got a Kindle I’d still end up buying the paper version of everything as well.
I moved away from physical media for music without any pain and I’m heading that way with video, but I could never part with real books.

I ship boxes of books to various charities once or twice a year: nursing homes, homes for runaways, veterans’ hospitals. Libraries rarely take old donations, and places like Goodwill are overwhelmed with too many books.

Oh. Never mind. You’re pretty much screwed, then.

You must cull your books.

I’ve had to do this recently for the same reason. I went through my shelves and piles and boxed up everything I was (a) unlikely to ever re-read and/or (b) was keeping only because they were somehow significant momentos.

I have a lot of storage space right now in the attic, so I’ll keep the boxes. Eventually, I’ll do another cull, and donate all the books I really will not read again (saving the significant ones).

That way, the books on my shelves are all ones I’m actually likely to want to read, and the piles are off the floor.

It’s a big task, but a necessary one if you are not to end up crowded out by your possessions.

I dunno, sounds like a pretty cool house to me.

I culled my library a few years ago, and still have over $300 in credit from my favorite used book store from that – just sayin’.

You could catalog your books so that you can keep up with what you already have. There are some great websites, such as goodreads.com, that can help with this. However, those sites also tend to encourage the acquisition of more books.

I have thousands of books too, but so far I have found shelf room for them all. If I ever run out of space for shelves, then I will start culling, because I don’t want boxes of books in storage. (I hope the kids will move out one day, and I could put more shelves in their rooms!)

That is a very dangerous sentence. *Get rid of the boxes!

I’m not all that concerned. Once they are in boxes, it is easy to get rid of them - just carry out the boxes. I’ve done that before.

I would not, for example, rent space to store boxes in.

I’m trying to get it under control. There’s a family moratorium on buying new bookcases as there simply isn’t any wall space left. That has slowed the purchase of books, but has led to the doubling up on shelves with books behind books.
And a couple of journals that I used to subscribe to in physical form I now read online.

I suppose I could lose that copy of ‘the da Vinci code’. I only read it ironically I swear! I spend 2-3 hours a day held hostage by London Underground and I need my fix of low brow commuter books just as much as the penguin classics and advanced physics texts.

It doesn’t help that libraries in the UK have tended to diversify into computers and advice centres at the expense of their book stacks. I could borrow lowbrow books for my commuting journey if it wasn’t for the fact that I feel like I have more books than they do.

Yeah. Unless you want to end up homeless, living in a shelter made of books…:slight_smile:

I try to get rid of anything that I don’t want to re-read, or that I can easily get at the library and don’t need to be able to lay hands on at a moment’s notice. I still have lots of books, but they are fairly controllable (except in the kids’ room, which is filled to bursting with old library discards and used books that no one has any more–that stuff I rotate out every few months and keep the overflow in a closet).

Also, do you just buy any books you want to read? The library saves me a lot of money and space.

Every once in a while, my husband and I bite the bullet and each of us must choose 10 books to get rid of. We have so many books, and keep acquiring more, that it’s not too taxing to choose 10 mediocre novels or dated cookbooks or faddish humor books to eighty-six. And that’s 20 books out the door. If we do that twice a year, that’s 40 books gone.

I realize you have thousands of books. So do we. If you do it once every three months and make the kids do it too, you could get rid of at least a hundred books a year and not miss them, and make some room on the shelves for books you do want.

My mother asked me to create a catalog of her books in… must have been '98. She thought there would be about 1500 books in the flat (which is large, but pocket-sized by the standards of most of the US), of which maybe 900 would be hers and/or Dad’s.

Over 2K counting only those which were theirs, plus thereabouts of 900 belonging to us “kids”. Some of them were repeats but we knew about it: for example, we had a copy of Verne’s 20000 Leagues which Dad had brought over when they got married and another one which was part of a bought-much-later “The Complete Verne” collection. No prob. But there were other repeats which didn’t come to light until I ran the inventory.

This discovery led to Mom cancelling her subscription to Círculo de Lectores, a book club that’s very popular in Spain, but she still got books from other sources.

She almost stopped buying books altogether only after she bought a third copy of an already-duplicated book. She was sure she didn’t have it, I was sure she had it twice (one in the living room, one in her office), I was right. By this time and despite Littlebro and I having taken most of our books to our own homes, she was at well over 5K books. And no, we don’t count each volume of an enciclopedic work as a separate book: Great-grandpa Jose’s 24-volume Universal History counts as 1 book, the 14-volume-plus-Appendix Encyclopedic Dictionary counts as 1 book, the 8 huge “The great…” volumes count as 1 book.
ETA: the catalog is just a spreadsheet with the following columns: Author, Title, Publisher, Collection, # within collection, Room, Location within room. We’re not buying or selling the books so we don’t need to record ISBN or anything like that.

Read Niven and Pournelle’s Inferno, or at least the scene where the obsessed book collector is trapped between (and crushed by) the Hoarders and the Wasters.

I like LibraryThing.

I think Eve might be talking about the weight of the books in a part of the structure that may not have been designed to be supporting it. I might be wrong about that though and if I am, then I’ll be the first to suggest it.

Frankly, in the OP’s case, I would be worried about how much weight any part of his house is bearing. Books are heavy. Quite flammable too, for that matter.

I was thinking more of “oh, another 27 boxes of books where I can’t see them” is a bad idea. I have lots of closet and attic space, and it is a temptation to hoard stuff “out of sight, pout of mind.”