I live in a household of four adults, called The Yellow Submarine. (No, it isn’t yellow, but we all live in it).
There are books in the study, which is also my home office. There are books in all of the bedrooms. There are a few books in the living room, and the cookbooks in the kitchen. But where most of the books are is in the attic.
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There are too many books in the attic. They are in piles on the floor. They are in the low bookcases along all the walls, in sort of things-that-are-related order. But not really. I cannot find anything, usually, if it is in the attic. Also, I mostly cannot look up there. It is safe from the ministrations of our cleaning person, so the dust is profound, and about five minutes is all I can manage, even with mask, allergy meds, and Tiger Balm.
I am in my 60s, and the weight of those books is beginning to oppress me. I think I can get rid of a lot of them, at least the ones that are mine. There’s the physical aspect, I would have to get someone else to clean them and haul them downstairs to go to – where? The Strand? The library book sale? The trash (old brittle paperbacks I have no compunction about recycling to NYC Sanitation)? But I would love to have the floor free of books and the shelves arranged so one might actually see what one has.
Many of the books are not mine, however, and other folks, whose need to declutter is not so great, would have to take charge of their own. They may not choose to do that.
Then there are the philosophical issues. I spent about five minutes looking at a bookcase of titles of mostly review copies of books I loved enough to keep. At least half of them could go. The other half, I would probably keep, because I loved the books, because I might refer to them one day, because they might be hard to obtain otherwise. I cannot state criteria for these, though, and another day at least some of my choices would be different.
I talked long and hard about these issues with TheInfomancer, who basically believes we should either a) get rid of nearly all of them or b) leave them alone. He had some excellent insights from his viewpoint ,so far removed from my own.
None of this solves the problem for me.