I feel like it would easier to lose everything in a fire.
I wanted, dreamed, to get rid of everything that didn’t fill a need. Keeping books I’ll never read again has always tweeked my anti-sentimentality.
Book shelves are just a performance anyway. We want people to know us and we maintain a proud bookshelf so it might occasionally be scanned by a friend we’re auditioning or someone we want to take to bed.
During all the moving of things I notice things I don’t care about but pain to throw away because I want someone else to see them and form their rendering of me.
There’s an experiment I read in which one group got to interview people and another got to spend 15 minutes in a person’s room. Both groups were then asked questions and the people who hadn’t met the objects of study but had been in their rooms correctly answered more questions and felt they knew the subjects better personally. So in our quest for an identity stuff matters.
My nihilism is also acting up again as I sort these leafy bastards. For the unsentimental side I look at this lifetime of books semi-circled around me on the floor and think I bought these, read them, stored them, now I remember maybe a quarter of one percent of them and I’m discarding them. All that unretained knowledge, something so firm and permanent as a novel turned into the meaningless shadow of an idea, so burningly futile.
And on the side of sentiment where I find still more questions but at least some comfort I realized no part of me wants to get rid of White Oleander. I won’t read it again I’m sure but it’s so attached to sense memories from the last year of high school. When I was in love with Mandarin and she was dating Luke so I dated Jen and listened to Mechanical Animals all the time. Just thinking about that book, the story of which I recall very little and care very much less, is a time machine, I’m more in my teenage room than I am in this mall right now.
So I set out to keep the books that tell me the story of my life and I’d fill the rest of the box in a prioritized fashion. Mishima, Orwell, Klosterman, I struggled with the idea of bringing entire collections. like why bring one Thompson over another, why not all or none you failed nihilist? but there was room for all the Hemingway, all the Campus, and all the Thompson. All the Klosterman too but I still hate at least 3 of his books so it’s just completionist bullshit. Fuck you, Chuck, learn when not to write.
So the storage tote is full and there’s a hundred books left. I threw some in the garbage out of spite, books I bought and hated or pointless gifts that have snowbanked on me over the years.
I’m going to make some boxes for some people, books I’ve been trying to lend them anyway over the years, then I really don’t know what to do it the rest. What’s the least amount of effort to get rid of a book without insulting it’s inherent dignity?