|55 books, or thereabouts|
I'm not sure why I kept them so long. Of course, as any book lover -- not just any reader, but a Book Lover -- will tell you, one doesn't just get rid of books. One keeps them and displays them as a sort of visual, decorative record of what one is or has been interested in -- of who one is, in a way.
But the thing about these books is, I never loved them. In fact, I never even truly read most of them. In grad school -- in the social sciences, anyway -- on the way to your comprehensive exams, you don't actually read books, you process them to extract information. And because you have so many books and articles to read, you need to process them as quickly as possible, no matter how well or badly written, how interesting or dull they may be. You must know what's in them.
So you develop shortcuts. Maybe you read the first and last chapter, and the first and last paragraphs of each of the other chapters, and glean the main ideas of the book, whatever it is the author is trying to argue, that way. (And you do the same with articles: you read the abstract, the introduction, and the conclusion.) If the work will have direct bearing on your own research, of course, you delve in more deeply. And once in a blue moon, maybe, you find a book that you actually enjoy reading, and you read the whole thing. And then you feel guilty for having spent so much time on one book.
So these books weren't books that I loved in any sense. They had been tools for information gathering, not objects of intellectual or emotional desire.
Still, the 65 or so I owned out of the hundreds of books that I "read" during grad school once held great symbolic meaning for me (as did the hundreds of articles that I copied and filed away). Ten years ago, I would not have dreamed of getting rid of them. Five years ago, it would have been a struggle.
|Finally, some empty space|
Not that that's a concern anymore, actually. In our new place, I could easily triple my existing bookshelf space without any problem. And the advent of ebooks brings up the question of buying physical books at all. Still, it feels good to know that I can buy about 55 more books before I even have to think about new shelving.
I think I'll hit the used bookstore for some genre fiction. Revisiting Asimov's Foundation series sounds good right about now.
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