On a visit to New Orleans, the bookshop Faulkner House Books reminded what a pleasure it is to have a collection of nice hardback editions. Somehow I had forgotten, and I had gotten so used to cheap paperbacks that age poorly. Faulkner House was especially impressive because it was such an eclectic mix of books; the only unifying trait was that they were nice editions of good books – no junk either way.
Bookshelves should be inviting places, with books that please the eye, hand, and mind. There shouldn’t be guilt over what you hate to get rid of, or what you meant to read. They should inspire and delight, not create psychic baggage. I had always thought you should never get rid of books, but I don’t think this is true anymore. If a book is damaged or falling apart, and doesn’t hold a special memory for you, then get rid of it. Marie Kondo applies even here: keep only the books that give you joy. Otherwise, it’s just another thing.
Inspired, I went home and purged many of the aging brittle books on my shelves. I rarely read a book again, so anything that was in bad shape got purged. If I should want to re-read a book, I’ll buy a nicer version or use the library. E-books are wonderfully handy for travel and odd moments, but a physical book collection is something fun, beautiful, and personal. Like a garden, it has to be pruned and cultivated, but quality annuals and perennials will bring you great joy. So I’ve started buying these.