I think we've all had our comfort objects. When I was a baby I had a blue blanket, when I was a little kid it was a clown doll, as an adult, I have a room full of books. Whenever I need a distraction, I've got a bookcase full of literature. When I was doing a history report in college, I happened to have a series on the renaissance and reformation that came in handy. You want to learn french, german, italian, latin, portuguese, romanian, russian, spanish, or tagalog? I've got books. I've got my original Boy Scout handbook, an Army survival guide, and a book on backyard ballistics in case civilization suddenly crumbles and I need to improvise fish traps and potato guns. If I feel like reading about coffee, the U.S. Constitution, science, philosophy, or the history of prostitution, I'm covered. Being encircled by bookshelves now has the same effect as that dirty old blue blanket.
At one point in mid 2009 I counted the books in my apartment and it was right around 900. I probably get 30-40 new books a year, so I'd imagine I'm somewhere just under 1000 at this point and I might have read 35% of them. Half Price Books and thrift stores make it way to easy to pick up lots of books for next to nothing. A book on Eli Whitney for 50 cents? Sure, why not. A series of 25 Time Life photography books from the early 80's for only $1.00 a piece? They're mine. All mine. I enjoy every one of these books whether I've read them or not.
But now I'm moving, books are heavy, and I live on the third floor and have the right knee of a 76 year old. What's more, I've come to feel like I have an unhealthy relationship with these piles of paper. I want to leave them but I'm afraid that I'll miss their colorful bindings and inky scents. Objects should not have this control over me. So I've made the decision to part with some of them. Difficult as it might be, I'm making a stack of at least 50 books that will not be gracing the shelves of my new home in May. I know this all probably sounds silly, but try to get rid of something that you like. Even only five percent of it. This is going to be painful, probably a little sad, but ultimately liberating.