Enjoy books, clean home

Books! That’s the word topping my list of resolutions for this New Year.
“Do something with them!” is what I wrote down in preparation for entering 2017.
I’ve always thought there’s a problem with a home that sports no visible books. But now, I also believe there’s a parallel wrong with a house that shows too many books (as well as having “invisible” ones in rooms that casual visitors seldom enter…).
The latter is my home. In addition to piles of books in living- and dining-rooms, there are bedside books, and even a basketful of bathroom reading (someone once said literacy could be improved by this, so I took him up on it!). But my office is the worst, with three wide, floor-to-ceiling bookcases, each with six overloaded shelves. Since these shelves are deep, each one carries a double row, so it’s easy to forget — more accurately, impossible to remember — what’s in the back. And just to get to the verticals, I have to remove the horizontals sitting on top of them.
Several years ago, when I had sagging shelves repaired, I went through everything without mercy, got rid of many books, and organized everything left into usable categories. But since that time, as new volumes have come in, and as I’ve pulled out old ones to use and failed to put them back in their proper places, I face the inevitable. This is my year to tackle that huge task again.
These are the decisions I have to make: Which books that I’ve already read do I love enough to want to keep — perhaps for reading again some day? Which books that I’ve never read yet do I really intend to read some day? Which books, from past times of studying, teaching, or being enthralled with certain topics whose hold on me is long gone, do I really need to retain? Of course I want them all, whether for memories or future intentions. The last time I went through the painful exercise of judging, and acting on my judgment, was more than three years ago. Now I’m facing another bullet-biting episode.
When I think about all this rationally — always hard for a book-lover to do — I know there are very few titles that fit into the first category. I will never part with my childhood copy of Little Women, for one. Then there are classics, like Will Durant’s Story of Philosophy, which any real student of almost anything should have read, but I haven’t, yet. And how much non-classic poetry still merits space on my shelves?
Some portions of my “collection” are virtually sacred: I will not give up books written by people I know, or books about my hometown, or books dealing with any world religion (including various Bibles, the Quran, the scriptural Book of Mormon). But I tell you all this because I’ve amassed an astounding amount of Judaica through years of teaching and writing: for pleasure (many volumes of stories, both very old and very new), or for research and reference (prayerbooks, explanations of customs and ceremonies), plus topical tomes (subjects such as our religious approaches to illness, death and dying, or writings by Israelis or about Israel, or modern novels appearing at least potentially interesting). And I’m more than willing to share.
I’ve already begun my shelf-clearing by taking 40 volumes to Half-Price Books, for which I netted $35. But no Judaica; I’m unwilling to part so casually with any of that — certainly not for less than $1 per book! So if you’re part of a Jewish library, or a Jewish school, or an individual with an interest in any variety of such things, please let me know. As soon as I’ve completed the shelf reorganization scheduled to begin this coming weekend, I’ll be ready for all comers to take a look, and take away.
Please help me — and you — enjoy a happy, productive Reading New Year!

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