On getting rid of books

This essay on the need to periodically cull books reminds me of my own blasphemous attempts to weed out my always-growing book collection, which now sits at around 1,200 titles. Before every major move, I usually winnowed out the books that wouldn’t be coming with me. If I owned a book for more than a decade, still hadn’t read it, and wasn’t likely to read it in the future as a result of my own changing tastes, then the likelihood was good that it would be accompanying me on a trip to the used book store.

For example, I divested myself of virtually all my history books: I gave some to a fellow historian of France shortly after I quit my Ph.D., and sold the rest to a couple of Montreal book stores specializing in academe just before moving to Shawville. I’d accumulated a lot of them during my graduate studies; most were the sort that would have been worth owning only if I’d actually gone on to my expected professorial career; absent that, I can always consult a library copy on the rare occasion that I need to consult one. (That’s been, maybe, once in the past decade.)