Last weekend, I ran out of space on my bookshelves.
For the last several months, I knew this day was coming. Each time a package of books would arrive on my doorstep, I would open it with glee only to feel trepidation as I struggled to find a space on my increasingly cramped shelves. I moved bookshelves around in the house, annexing the larger shelves for my books while relegating my boyfriend’s books to a smaller and smaller space.
But finally, I realized I just don’t have room for more. There are no more feasible places to put more bookshelves, and every bookshelf I have is holding more books than are reasonable. Books are piled in front of and on top of other books, squished into space and piled up so securely that you can barely read the spines of most books in the back.
I suppose I could start a second, outer layer of books to the shelves, or start storing books in my refrigerator, but I’m afraid that will push me over the edge from the charming Kim, Avid Book Collector to the awkward Kim, Obsessive Book Hoarder.
Before I started writing this post, I decided to count my unread books, which account for the majority of the books I own, based simply on the number of shelves they occupy. I’ve been avoiding this little exercise because once I know how many unread books I own, I will be able to calculate how many years (years!) I should wait until I buy myself more new books.
I have 265 unread books. In 2011, I read approximately two books per week. This means that if the apocalypse came today and destroyed every book in the world except the books in my house, I could read two books a week for the next 2.5 years and not run out of reading material. (I think that math is right… I was an English major, after all.)
As much as I wish it were possible, I don’t think the answer to my space problem is to just buy more bookshelves. Having enough books to read comfortably for the next 2.5 years is a luxury as well as a burden. When my boyfriend and I moved a year ago, it took more than 20 boxes to pack all of my books. I know the number has grown since then. I love having so many options for picking my next read, but those books are starting to overwhelm me.
As much as it pains me, I think the answer at this point is to give away books I don’t want to read or don’t plan to read again, severely limit the number of new books that come in the front door, and make a serious commitment to reading the books I already own. That is the only way I think I can find a way to tackle Mount To Be Read and curate a collection rather than a pile of my favorite books.