This Incessant Need To Keep Books


I did a purge last week.  Oh, no, not that disgusting thing!  Where is your mind, people!  I’m talking about a book purge.  Yes, me, queen of collecting books, decided she needed to eliminate some of her collection.

Now, before I get going, most of what I purged was not considered good fiction.  Not probably even great fiction.  I eliminated romance paperbacks.  Yep, I collect romance books.  Now, I don’t collect everything there is of that genre.  I do have some taste, thank you very much.  I tend to collect regency novels.  I love the regency era, or what I’ve read of it in romance books. Dukes and Earls…. Barons, Viscounts, ladies, maids… Oh yes, it’s all quite romantic.

However, I decided that when I have a collection of books I don’t plan to ever read again, it’s time for them to go.  Now, the reason I was keeping them was many times I read a paragraph, a page, or a character that I like, or even love.  And as I sometimes indulge my fantasy of writing romance fiction, I want to keep said inspiration for a later jolt when I might need some help.  However, when I’m keeping that many books just for inspiration of a couple of pages, it seems pretty ridiculous.  (ooh, I scared a boggart there) (Sorry, Harry Potter joke)

I was able to eliminate at least 20 to 30 books the other day, and it felt great.  I still kept all my Lisa Kleypas, Amanda Quick, Stephanie Laurens, and Julia Quinn… I won’t go to that extremes yet.  Besides, I do reread those.

But I eliminated books I never plan to read again.  Books I’d forgotten I’d even kept, as well.  There were a couple hardbacks in there, and a book on poetry that I got at a book sale, and was a total waste of time.

I told my mother that I think it’s one of the curses of being a writer.  I think writers see something they like in a book and want to hold onto it.  Maybe not.  My father suggested ripping out the pages.  I can’t do that.  If the book is perfectly good, even if it’s a silly romance, why would I want to chuck it?   Because it would have to go in the trash after that.  And spare me the trashy novel comment.  I know I’m scoffed at enough in this house for even reading romance. 

However, I can’t deface a book.  So, away to the library it went for another book sale.

How about any other writer out there.  Do you keep a book for the strict purpose of having read a bit of inspiration in it, even if you plan to never read the book again?  And if so, how do you deal with all the books you may collect?

Writing on



7 thoughts on “This Incessant Need To Keep Books

  1. There’re some books I immediately trash (very few mind you). Some go to the used book store for credit. Some I love so much that I keep because I know I’ll read them again someday. Then there are the books I don’t know what to do with because they’re borderline cases, they’re in about 15 boxes in my storage room.

    • I know the very few in the trash thing. I love the used book store for credit. I’m too far away from a store like that, which is probably a good thing. Oh, thank you. I don’t feel so alone. 15 boxes isn’t that many…. Not only do I have all my adult books, as in stuff I’ve collected in the past ten years. Then there is all my childhood books. The whole Happy Hollister series. The Zane Grey’s, the picture books. Gads. But I don’t feel so alone, thank you!

  2. I have a set of bookcases with very eclectic collections in them. Typically I read between 20-40 books a year, and of these about 1/3 are e-books and another 1/3 library books. Of the books I buy, a good number eventually got to charity, but every year I decide what to keep, so I tend to shuffle between boxes and what are in my bookcases once in a while. I keep books that I would read again but even more that I like to talk about and will lend out. At any given time a dozen or so of my books are out to my friends or extended family.

    • Eclectic collections are fun. I try to organize. I’m forever putting poetry with like kinds, fiction by author, non fiction by decimal system, but sometimes they get all mixed up. I have a thing where I rarely get rid of books. If I buy a book, it’s usually because I plan to keep it. Rarely do I buy a book I don’t intend to keep. Which is why my selections have become, well, more selective at booksales. I can’t walk out with twenty. I have to keep it to a small amount. As per loaning out… you are way more trusting than I am. Which shall become a post.. Thank you, George, for that idea. 😉

  3. I’ve definitely kept a book for a single sentence. Ohhh the shame of it all! Especially when years later I can’t remember which part I had liked, or it is no longer meaningful.

  4. Pingback: Print Books: Purge or Hoard? « virtualDavis

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