This week in the Bluestocking Salon, Bas Bleu editor KG shares an emotional experience that’s recognizable to book lovers everywhere. It is a dreaded, but often unavoidable moment in the great scheme of life.

I am moving.

Why is this news worth sharing with my fellow bluestockings? Because you understand just how stressful moving house can be when you have so many books. Currently, my books live on shelves…and on my bedside table…and under my TV and my coffee table. And did I mention the stacks of books lined up against my living room walls?

Any bibliophile who’s ever packed up and moved knows the pressure to downsize your book collection instead of hauling it all to the new abode. (Unless your new pad has All The Shelves, you lucky duck.) I’m trying to think of this as an “opportunity” to whittle down my stacks. But to what? How do I choose what to keep and what to give away?

Some books are obvious keepers: a second edition of Gone with the Wind, a birthday gift from a pair of lifelong friends; my late uncle’s personal copy of his favorite book, Charles Dickens’s The Pickwick Papers; a dog-eared paperback edition of Persuasion, my favorite of Jane Austen’s novels (sorry, Darcy); a community cookbook I helped to write and edit; a fragile copy of my sister’s and my favorite children’s book, long since out of print; my ninth-grade copy of John Knowles’s A Separate Peace; the first romance novel I stole from my mother (please don’t tell her); an autographed edition of Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin… The list is too long to print here.

three stacks of books in front of bookshelves on hardwood floor

But what about my To Be Read books? This category is tougher to navigate, as my TBR collection is considerable. It’s a perk of working at Bas Bleu, where boxes of books arrive daily from publishers…but too many of those books come home with me. To shave down the TBR stacks, I opted to keep only books that a) aren’t easy to find in libraries or bookstores or b) have been on my must-read list for so long that I sneak them in between Bas Bleu reading marathons.

Once I’ve downsized the collection, I’ll need to rehome the titles not making the move. Because my books deserve to find a good home, too, in the hands of readers whose hearts and lives may be transformed—or at least transfixed for a few hours—by the books I’m releasing into the world. With that in mind, I’ve narrowed the recipients to:

  1. Little Free Libraries around town
  2. My dad’s hometown library. My local library branch is closed for renovations, so I’m sending hardcovers in good condition to the small library recently built near my father’s childhood home. Their buying budget is woefully small, so book donations meant for the library’s sales occasionally land on their permanent shelves.
  3. A woman-owned used bookstore that recently opened nearby and is still building up its stock.

I have the plan. I have the boxes and packing tape. I have the good intentions. But…I haven’t let any of those books go just yet!

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