Books Worth Keeping

My husband and I decided, on a whim, to cull (most of) our bookshelves. He and I are both avid readers and, perhaps more so, avid book buyers. We also both believe in owning books, which has its benefits and disadvantages. (And we are very lucky to have the space to keep a sizable collection.) This means that we lean toward keeping every book we buy, when not every book is one we NEED to own. 

I think we have five rough categories of books that are “worth” keeping (ALL books are worth keeping — this is just how we helped identify books for culling): 

  • Classics, that we feel we should own because they have staying power
  • Books by authors we love. Auto-buy authors tend to stay on the shelves. My husband’s Stephen King and Ian McEwan collections fall into this category. My many detective/murder mystery series also count here. 
  • Books with sentimental value. This covers my entire poetry collection, which makes me think of grad school; books we received as gifts from dear friends/family; autographed books; and books from our childhoods. It also covers favorite books – All the Light We Cannot SeeThe Time Traveler’s Wife, and The Namesake are three of mine. 
  • Books that we’ll read again. My Sue Grafton, Sophie Hannah, Tana French, and Kate Atkinson series all fit into this category. The Sue Grafton in particular is my go-to comfort read and slump buster series. (I don’t know if my husband has any books in this category; he is not a big re-reader.) Some of these are books we hope/want to read with our daughter – the Harry Potter books, for instance. 
  • Also, books that we have not yet read, of which we own a truly embarrassing number. This includes newish books, like those I got for Christmas (Cloud Cuckoo LandThe PushBird by Bird), Book of the Month buys we still haven’t gotten to (even though our joint subscription ended several years ago), and books we’ve purchased for ourselves or one another that just haven’t made it off the ol’ TBR yet.

As you might imagine, there is a lot of overlap among these categories. My copy of The Count of Monte Cristo falls into both the sentimental value and classics category, and I like to think that I will also read it again someday.

It’s my understanding that some people also have Display Books – like, books that they want other people to see them own. Aside from my office bookshelves, which are visible when you walk through the front door, none of our bookshelves are in public spaces of our home, so we don’t really have that category of books. (I am not opposed to this category of books, by the way; as long as they are an accurate representation of what a person reads or wants to read, I think browsing people’s shelves can give you a lot of insight into their personality. Or at least their college English class curriculum.)

Do the books in your collection fall into any of these categories? Are there categories I haven’t touched on that your books fall into?

It’s difficult for both my husband and me to get rid of books. So if there was any hesitation on either part, we didn’t mark a book for culling. 

We were able to find a nice stack of books that don’t fall into any of those categories for us, and I am pleased by the number of books we have to donate/add to local Little Free Libraries… and by the number of spaces it opens up on our shelves! 

6 thoughts on “Books Worth Keeping

  1. Getting rid of books is SO hard, even for books that I didn’t particularly like and won’t read again. Your categories are my categories as well. I really should do a cull…it will make room for more books!

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  2. I used to have 6 bookcases of books before I moved in with my husband. His home didn’t have the wall space for that many bookcases, so I did a MAJOR purge of books before moving in. I think I donated over 300+ to a non-profit. But it was surprisingly easy as so much of what I owned no longer reflected my tastes. I am not sure how many books I own now, but it’s probably under 30? They all fit on a couple of shelves of the window seat between our dining room and kitchen. So they truly reflect favorites that will stand the test of time, and a good portion of them are France-themed as I am a total Francophile. I’m reading The Count of Monte Cristo right now via the serial reader ap but I think I may need to buy it for my France collection if I continue to enjoy it as much as I have so far. It can feel a little weird to have so few books when I am so clearly a book person… I mean we had a book-themed wedding! But now I spend my book money on books for our kids and almost exclusively read books from the library. My husband is an avid reader but also exclusively reads books from the library. Our collection will look quite different as the kids get older as we’ll shift from board books and picture books to chapter books. I want them to always have lots of books to choose from, so eventually, we may have as many books as I once did!

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      • It was honestly amazing and so on brand for us since we are both readers but I am ESPECIALLY a passionate reader. I am the least crafty person ever (total left brained math major finance nerd) so my SIL was the brains behind it. Our save the dates looked like library cards, I made envelop liners for the invites from pages of books that were in bad condition (couldn’t bear to cut into books that were in good condition!!), we gave away bookmarks as our wedding favor, used stacks of books for centerpieces, the escort cards looked like cards from old school library card catalogs, and I got second hand card catalog drawers to put them in at the reception. It ended up being an pretty inexpensive but really clever theme!!

        This post gives you a good glimpse of all the details!

        Liked by 1 person

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