No Book Left Behind

Pare down my personal library? Don’t be ridiculous.

The other Saturday I began the Herculean task of packing up everything that I own in this world and moving it to my new apartment in Silver Spring, MD. It’s just a 20-minute drive from my current dwelling, and my soon-to-be roommate has been at the place for a few years now; that gives me the luxury of moving in phases. The goal for the first round of this multi-part approach to moving was to transport as much non-essential cargo as I could by myself, so that meant no appliances or clothing or furniture.

Instead, it meant stuffing my little car full of books — because I’m an incurable pack rat, especially when it comes to books.

It really didn’t occur to me just how extensive my library had gotten until I started packing up the contents of my bookshelves. I filled five boxes, and then I had to start getting creative. My backpack didn’t hold much, so I also packed my large duffel bag. That didn’t take care of everything, so my laundry basket joined the cause.

How did it come to this?

Most of my books are related to baseball, the accumulated bounty of 15 years of rabid fandom. There are trivia books, memoirs, and investigative works. For sheer density, there are also several reference works, all thicker than a phone book.

I also blame the “free table” at the magazine where I work. We very rarely review books and other media, but that sure doesn’t stop publishers and PR flaks from sending in their product. Most of it gets deposited on top of a long file cabinet in the hallway of our office, with everything up for grabs. I just can’t turn down a freebie, and I’ll often find things that are right up my alley. Even if I don’t, I’ll take a shot in the dark.

So did the overwhelming ritual of loading my entire car with boxes and bags full of books serve as a wake-up call? Did it encourage me to spend more time at the library and less at Amazon.com or Borders? Did I realize that I hated Sister Carrie and Slider the first time through, and I would probably do well to find them a new home?

Of course not. It’s just not my way. Because I can never know when I might need to refer to The Scouting Report: 1995.

Article © 2008 by Kevin Brotzman