By Klancy Hoover
Have you ever looked over at your overflowing bookshelf and thought, “Wow, my life is a mess”? Because that’s currently me. I’m a recent college graduate still living with my parents, not only fighting with my siblings for space, but also my bookshelves. I have well over 100 books that I’ve stuffed onto my bookshelves, with their spines increasingly poking and jutting out as I try to pile more and more books into such a small space. It’s become a source of stress for me. Whenever I look over at my books packed tightly together, it’s as if I can feel my own lungs constricting, stealing my breath as my overflowing bookshelves continue to overpower my personal space. To combat this stress, I have been wanting to get rid of a number of books I haven’t read to make room for more stories, but for some reason I always hesitate.
I think my hesitation stems from the fear that the books I consider getting rid of now might actually end up being one of my favorite reads later if I give them a chance. What if I discover a new author I enjoy, or new characters I feel a connection to? How can I give up a book that I spent my hard earned money on? But questioning yourself incessantly like this will only stress you out more, and won’t bring you any closer to a solution to the problem. Reading tastes change. I bought a YA fantasy book over four years ago that I have been hoarding on my bookshelf ever since, and yet its description doesn’t sound as appealing to me as a reader in 2019. It’s okay to not be interested in a book anymore. It’s okay to let it go and make room for new books that you’re excited about. There are so many worlds to explore in different stories; you shouldn’t chain yourself to the idea of finishing just one.
Another source of hesitation for me comes from the books that other people have gifted or recommended to me over the years. I always feel guilty about the idea of getting rid of books that other people have given me, especially when I consider the possibility of them finding out. I don’t want them to be disappointed. But when you consider the fact that a gift is a gesture of well-being, a way of showing someone that you thought about them and value their interests, and wasn’t given with the intent of tying you into that person’s debt, it’s easier to let the guilt go. It’s okay to give up a book that was gifted or recommended to you because in the end you might be gifting that book to another reader who will enjoy the story even more than you did.
Learning to let go of unwanted books is a challenge. There are so many reasons that someone might be hesitant about purging their bookshelves, and each of those hesitations are valid. You shouldn’t feel guilty about them. There’s a reason behind those hesitations, and it’s totally okay to keep hoarding those books on your bookshelf until you understand why. When you’re ready, there will be new worlds for you to explore.
Edited by Emily Chance