Young sir, please hand me that giant red pen. I magnificently cross #82 Catalog my personal book library, from my bucket list, with the enthusiasm of someone completing an amazingly difficult challenge—preferably where life or eminent death was involved—and coming out the opposite side in a blaze of triumph.
Today I have finished my library cataloging project, and the following verdict remains: 484 books kept, 128 titles tossed on a pile for donation, pulping, or potential resale.
I deliberately reviewed each title crammed into my three personal bookshelves, examined the book, pondered upon the reason for inclusion in my own collection, decided whether that book would stay or whether it would go, and then scanned the barcode on the back of each cover, acquiring the ISBN and metadata information. Each title that made the cut, was cataloged in an iPhone app, and gently returned to the bookshelf, according to spine height. To keep my library wild and unpredictable, titles are categorized by shelf height, which provides a fun process of Hide and Seek, when I actually want to retrieve a specific book. But that keeps it fresh, and my eyes have to frequently scan topics that I may have forgotten about, eons ago.
There is more treasure in books than in all the pirate’s loot on Treasure Island ~ Walt Disney
A sad looking collection of paper rejects, towers higher and higher as I find titles that I don’t want to keep, or in some cases that are simply outdated technical manuals or reference materials. Second thought is mostly given to none; I can identify the computing manuals that contain outdated source code and practices, and the photographic titles that serve me no purpose any longer. I scoff at duplicate titles, shaking my fist at how I bought the same book twice (on numerous occasions), but this cataloging process will remedy all future errors. Numerous titles fall into the category of Well I Planned on Reading That Twenty Years Ago But Haven’t Yet So Oh Well.
My wife returns from work and I motion, in my most dramatic flair, the giant pile of books that are earmarked for deletion from the surface of the planet. I’m sure her eyes glazed over at that moment, overwhelmed by the giant stack of Now We Have To Get Rid Of These. Soon after, I find her looking at book reselling websites, cataloging and identifying candidates for her own Ima Gonna Turn This Pile Of Trash Into A Heap Of Gold One Way Or Another project.
The more you read the more places you will go,the more places you go the more things you will learn ~ Oh, The Places You’ll Go! by Dr. Seuss
I do not throw away books, let’s just get that straight—that crime would be worthy of lethal injection or a 9:00 appointment with Mister Guillotine. My worst case scenario is where I take the books for resale and the reseller confirms the lack of monetary value, graciously offering to pulp said paper, recycling it for another author’s Magnum Opus. I have a great respect for the printed word and prefer Pages n’ Paper to Pushin’ Pixels on an electronic device. My fascination with books goes back decades, you can blame my mother. It’s all her fault, and none other.
While several physical structures qualify as “my childhood home”, there’s really only one that I consider my former home; all others were insignificant. Anyway, in my childhood home, an upstairs hallway was lined with bookshelves, floor to ceiling mind you. I’d guess the passageway was twelve feet long and, with ceilings placed at eight feet in height, you’re looking at a potential space of ninety-six square feet of pure bookshelf goodness. To this day, I still desire to have a dedicated space for a home-based library, on a similar grand scale.
I can only remember a leather-bound edition of Lord of the Rings, although I have no idea what mom read on a daily basis, but I can remember that it was her thing. Dad built motorcycles in the kitchen; mom read books at the kitchen table during lunch, over a steaming bowl of tomato soup. Her love for the printed word created an indelible mark on my life, and a passion for books. And then I grew up and went away to college.
Ironically, I dropped my love of reading and learning about new topics when I went away to college. Five years of higher education would come and go, one brand new marriage established, numerous relocations from here to there, but I finally regained my interest in reading. I’m not sure which fictional title flipped the switch for me—maybe Hunger Games?—before I regained my serious interest in reading, not just book collecting. You can have the largest library in the neighborhood, but if you don’t actually read a portion of your own titles, what’s the point? Books are not trophies, or at least they shouldn’t serve that sole purpose.
My library is complete, meaning that all of the keepers have been cataloged, and I actually have regained some valuable shelf space. Additionally, in the process I have identified numerous Oh Yeah I Always Wanted To Read That titles. I’ve stacked those aside, and hope to work through them next. Curious to the contents of my collection? I’d be curious about yours! Send me an email and I will provide an online directory of my book collection.
Now I feel a sudden urge to slosh some tomato soup in a medium-sized sauce pan for dinner, mixed with a full can of milk, and place it on the burner on medium heat.
Love ya, Mom.