"Once upon a time...”
This is how many of the first stories my mother read aloud to me as a child began. The plot most likely played out as follows: protagonist faces challenges, falls in love …and – BAM! – the hero scores some sweet real estate and moves into a castle with ample square footage. “And they all lived happily ever after.”
Well, fairy tales can come true in real life. I found true love, BUT I did not quite land that castle as promised in many storybooks. As I plan on moving from one home to another this weekend, I realize I am more likely going to find a giant pumpkin to ride to work every day than afford the square footage of my dreams – as well as the amazing library Belle received in Beauty and The Beast.
As a bibliophile, “moving day” is true torture. I must ask myself, “Which books do I keep?” Over the past few weeks, I had to face the harsh reality of deciding which books would journey with me into my new apartment.
Luckily, my book collection conundrum had a happy ending as opposed to a complete horror story. Like a great fairy tale, here are some valuable lessons I learned along the way:
1.) Give the gift of reading
Before I packed a book I asked myself, “I ‘want’ this book, but who ‘needs’ it?” Many titles, including Shakespeare’s plays (from high school), my Art History textbooks (from college) and other reference books belonged in the hands of teens. Luckily, one of my friends is a NYC public school teacher and I gave him this giant collection to share with his students. Hopefully, a teen dives into the joys of Macbeth, Othello and The Tempest as I did at 16.
Thanks to a recent article on Brightly, I also discovered some great resources to donate my old books. Check it out – it’s inspiring.
2.) Realize it’s okay if your passions change
For some time, I was all about world mythology; however, I have not opened those books in years. Instead, I reached out to my local library and added these titles to their middle school research section. That was the age when I fell in love with the myths of the Greeks, Sumerians and Egyptians. I hope someone else can connect research and history with reading for fun.
3.) Take a picture. It lasts longer
Some books were more sentimental – and it was hard to make that choice of “stay” versus “go.” For instance, I found a collection of books from my childhood buried under my bed. I realized I could not keep all of them. I decided to pick my top five books and took a picture of the rest of them before they went to the donation pile. It was bit painful watching that box leave my apartment, but discovering that picture on my phone reminds me of such wonderful memories – and the hope someone else makes memories with those books as well.
4.) Be compassionate to your inner book nerd
Don’t go on the deep end of purging all of your books. At one point, I almost gave away all of my books due to the stress of boxes piling up in my apartment. Never fear. Take a breather, walk away and revisit it later. You will thank yourself before you accidentally donate your first edition of Harry Potter (don’t worry, that stayed). I learned that there will be some books that I just love to proudly display at home that showcase who I am, what I love and why I love reading.
As I pack the final box tonight, I wish all of my dearly departed books “happy trails” and wish the next reader the happiness I found when reading that book.