About

I'm Mike Pope. I live in the Seattle area. I've been a technical writer and editor for over 30 years. I'm interested in software, language, music, movies, books, motorcycles, travel, and ... well, lots of stuff.

Read more ...

Blog Search


(Supports AND)

Google Ads

Feed

Subscribe to the RSS feed for this blog.

See this post for info on full versus truncated feeds.

Quote

The only cats worth anything are the cats who take chances.

— Thelonius Monk



Navigation





<January 2018>
SMTWTFS
31123456
78910111213
14151617181920
21222324252627
28293031123
45678910

Categories

  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  
  RSS  

Contact

Email me

Blog Statistics

Dates
First entry - 6/27/2003
Most recent entry - 1/15/2018

Totals
Posts - 2475
Comments - 2570
Hits - 2,015,323

Averages
Entries/day - 0.47
Comments/entry - 1.04
Hits/day - 379

Updated every 30 minutes. Last: 9:59 AM Pacific


  08:09 PM

Over the course of the year, we've shed about two bookcases worth of books. In the first round, I hauled a trunk full of books around to various used-book emporiums, collecting a decreasing amount of cash for the diminishing pile until the final couple of boxes went to the weasels at Half-Price Books for pennies. I see from my tax records that we also donated 175 books to the library. Another box was recently shipped to Powell's, who will buy your books online. (Not very good prices, I am sad to say.) And there's another box in the garage awaiting its fate.

Having spent all this effort to thin the shelves, it would be counter-productive, let's say, to simply replace all the departed books with new ones. Which means that the flow of books through the house should result in a net negative.

To this end, we're experimenting with -- gasp! -- not buying books. (Exception: gifts.) As I reckon it, neither of us has bought a book in over a month. It might be difficult to convey what a behavioral change this is. Imagine perhaps saying that you hadn't bought a tank of gas in over a month.

Instead, we're taking advantage of our proximity to, and online access to, the local library. The pattern we seem to be following is that we'll hear about a book that sounds interesting -- me usually on the Powell's blog, Sarah usually in the New York Review of Books. We log on to the library Web site and put it on hold immediately. When it comes in, the library sends you an email.

In theory, getting books through the library is an exercise in delayed gratification. But it's not as bad as I thought it would be. We, Sarah especially, keep the holds queue pretty full, so stuff is coming in all the time. I have found the pace to be bracing, but about right -- I get three or four new books in every month. Here's the thing: if I went out and bought the books, I wouldn't be reading them any faster. They'd just pile up on the shelves. Which is where we started the whole exercise.

It's hard to predict whether the new regimen will hold up -- I suspect we'll be subject to the occasional binge. Just like real dieting, hey. But if we manage to keep it sufficiently under control to, for example, not have to buy a new bookcase, that would be darn good progress.

But. (Nearly forgot about this.) E had a school project this week that involved Greek and Roman culture. The first thing that happened, even before Google and stuff, was that Sarah and I each scurried off to comb the shelves, and within 20 minutes, poor E had a stack of books in front of her. (Well, sort of ... what she had was two excited adults skimming through a stack of books.) On reflection, Sarah and I pronounced ourselves pleased that we'd been able to ransack the home library and come up with a respectable number of sources for the kid.

So it's not as if we want to do away with the books completely. We still have scads of books we love and that we can occasionally turn to as reference. They're still pretty and strangely comforting on the shelf. Perhaps we've reached a kind of bibliographical balance -- enough books to be happy, but not too many coming in.

We'll see.

[categories]   ,

[1] |