The floor refinishing and installation project is fast approaching the time when the floor boards will be delivered and the actual work will be done. Leading up to it Bookman and I have to find a place to move all of our furniture and books and we have some carpet to tear out of the living room and vinyl flooring to tear out of the kitchen. We have about a week and half to do it in at this point. So if things are a little quieter around here than usual, you know what I am up to.

One of the rooms that already has wood flooring that will be refinished is “my” room. It has my desk and my books in it. Yesterday I cleaned off my desk and filed the papers that had been accumulating. I cleared out the insides of my desk today. Amazing the things that can be found in a desk drawer that hardly ever gets opened except to retrieve the occasional paperclip. The desk, however, was no big deal.

It’s the books.

I am blessed with an overabundance of books. Even though two of the walls are covered with shelves, those shelves are packed with books. Of course I have not stopped buying books just because the shelves are full. So I have been piling books neatly on the floor. And piling. And piling. And piling. I see the books everyday and, I tell myself, I generally know what books are there. But in reality, I have stopped seeing them so that they no longer register as piles of books in my brain and there are so many of them I have no idea what most of them are. I never thought of them as a problem because they just sat there, not intruding on my consciousness, even when I add to them.

Today they intruded big time.

I am not certain how we managed to acquire a three-shelf bookcart, but we did. It lives in the basement and had junk piled onto it. I cleared it of its detritus and began moving the books piled on my floor upstairs to the bookcart downstairs an armful at a time. Down and up. Up and down. Waldo ran up and down with me, so excited that something different was going on. Dickens went down once, then came back upstairs and stretched out in a strategic location and watched me going back and forth.

Did I ever work up a sweat! I filled the bookcart and still have a small pile of books on the floor to move. At that point I was too sweaty and tired to figure out what to do with the last pile. I collapsed on my reading chaise with a cold glass of water to recover and to think.

What am I doing with so many books? If I read nothing but the books I put on the cart today, it would probably take me three to four years to read them all. There are that many books. And looking at the room without all those books on the floor, it doesn’t seem so small anymore. It also feels better. Lighter.

When the floor is done and beautiful I don’t want to cover it up with piles of books. It is not good for the books because it is impossible to keep them clean. I also don’t want to think about carrying them all back upstairs. But I don’t want to get rid of them because I haven’t read them.

I am forming a plan of action. I will probably leave them all on the cart in basement. I will make it a point to start reading books from the cart. When I am done reading a book, I must decide whether it is worth keeping because I want to read it again or it was somehow so amazing that even if I never read it again I still want it around as a reminder of the experience. I then have to find a place for it on a bookshelf. If I am not going to want to read it again or it wasn’t all that amazing, I have to get rid of it. Simple enough.

A floor without book piles in a room with packed bookshelves is a great temptation. But I will not let myself succumb. No more book piles on the floor. That means I must be ever so selective about the books I buy. This won’t actually be that hard since Bookman and I have stopped going to our local Half Price Books. We can still get used books in other places, but I don’t think we will. At least not very often. And new books, those are costly enough that I have to think about them when I buy them. How much do I want them? Do I have someplace to put them?

This will be a big change and no doubt it will be hard to stick to. But after moving all those books today, and when I consider that one day we might need to pack up and move house, I can’t bear thinking about it. Chiropractors will start lining up outside my door.

In one way I feel like I am betraying my bookish self. But in another I feel like I am honoring my personal beliefs in living a simple and clutter-free life. I never thought the two would come into conflict but they have. I’ve got some thinking to do; some mental realignment. It isn’t bad. It’s good. And I am glad I have come to do it on my own terms.

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