Some of you might think getting rid of a book is blasphemy. But for those of you who are regular bookshelf purgers, whether it’s to make room for new reads or to get money from trade-in credit, here are the books you might want to be a little sentimental about.
1. A book you had to fight through reading but ultimately loved
This was me with One Hundred Years of Solitude. “It felt like a hundred years of solitude to get through it,” I would joke. But reading it felt like a meditative exercise and I adored it, and later when people would ask me about my favorite books, I found myself naming this one. For some reason, at some point, I gave it away — which meant I just ended up buying it again later when I realized how important it had been to me.
2. A book a friend has expressed interest in
Chances are, if that one friend might read it, so will a coworker or an acquaintance or your yoga teacher. If you enjoyed it and want to spread it around, keep it. Some of them may end up being big hits — I’ve loaned out my copy of Wild so many times that I ended up buying extras so I always have one. Although I wouldn’t have ever gotten rid of Wild, I have a handful of books I would have otherwise traded in that I’ve kept because they’re popular and friends may want to read them.
3. A gift from someone you don’t talk to anymore
Image: Megan Morris/Flickr
A boy I dated in high school gifted me two books of poetry by Charles Bukowski and I really loved them. When I was purging my bookshelves, like I do every so often, I got rid of them because I hadn’t read them in a while and I thought I might be holding on to them because I was hesitant to let go of him. Turns out I really did just love those poems and I still mean to put them back on my shelf.
4. Books from a fandom that changed your life
I got rid of every one of my Harry Potter books and I don’t know why. Not to mention the stacks of Sailor Moon anime that I was embarrassed by until I gave it away. It’s all gone! But those books helped shape who I am, and it seems a shame not to at least have them in a box somewhere to give my future kids who will look at me like I’m crazy for telling them to read something they could just watch.
5. A book that meant something to your parents
I distinctly remember my mom giving me the book Rebecca. I never read it, and I suppose I still could find a new copy, but I wish I had the copy my mother gave me. I didn’t understand it at the time, but she was trying to share a piece of herself with me. I’m not saying you should let your parents unload all of their personal favorites onto you, but select a few.
6. A book you loved as a kid
Image: Might June/Flickr
I read through every one of the Little House on the Prairie books, I scarfed down every Nancy Drew book I could get my hands on, but I don’t have a copy of any of them. I’d love to see how many pages I dog-eared or what kinds of foods I spilled on those suckers.
7. A book that makes you look smart but you really hate
Kidding. Except kind of not. I read White Noise by T.C. Boyle and man did I hate it. I hated it so much I bristle at the idea of ever having to give another Boyle book a shot. But I kind of wish I’d kept the book — one, so when people said something about it on my shelf, I had an excuse to vent, and two, because sometimes I wonder if it was the book or where I was as a person. If I still had it, I could check in with myself. Yep, still hate it. Yep, definitely the book.
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