I love to get rid of things. If I were more patient about it, I would make a little money selling on eBay or Craigslist (which I do sometimes). I’ve given up holding yard sales as well. As I feel unnecessary objects piling up around me, I get very restless. I feel the weight of excess ownership upon me. So I clean the offending items up and donate them to my favorite resale shop whose proceeds benefit a local charity. (The financial balance is that the donations are tax deductible).

Lately I’ve been focusing on books. To my mind, books are highly worthy objects, so this has not been easy. But as I looked over my overstuffed bookcases, I knew it was time to make choices.

Several years ago, I started discovering book sale sections at local libraries. I would spend hours with these shelves and bring home armloads of books for which I only spent a few dollars. What I wound up with are books about Tolkien and his writings, books about gardening, health, nature, hiking, art, essays, poetry, all the things I love to read about. When faced with personal loss, I picked up book after book about grieving and loss, hoping they would help me process my emotions. But the reality is, I didn’t read most of these books cover to cover. They were simply objects that represented my interests.

And owning these books wasn’t really enhancing my life; it was overkill, clutter.

So this week, I pared them down dramatically. I still have one book, or several, on everything that interests me. I still have my old Tolkien trilogy and my newer Hunger Games trilogy. I just no longer have different versions of these books or companion books or anything else.

I also went through the books I bought through the years for my children. This was especially difficult, but I realized that I was the one tied up with these books, not my kids. I was emotionally invested because I had made the choices in bringing these books home to expand my kids’ horizons on one topic or another. Most books had simply been outgrown; a few never interested them much in the first place. But of course I kept some beautiful classics and old favorites.

When it was all done, I had three big heavy boxes to bring to the store. And looking back to my newly open shelves and more carefully curated book collection, I saw that the books I loved most were no longer hidden in the shadows of the others. They were right there for me, as they had been all along.

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