Monday, January 21, 2013

To Keep or Not to Keep; Then Where Do They Go?

I've lived in my house almost 12 years now, and I also come from a mother who is a "saver." She keeps everything it seems like. I either learned or inherited that tendency and over the last few years I've been trying to turn the boat around. My house had just become full of clutter and I couldn't deal with it I didn't want to have to dust all the clutter all the time.

Anyway, this post isn't really about the clutter so much as the fact that my desire to de-clutter and truly organize rolled over into my book world. You know how we all talk about our "to be read piles"? Well I have a "to be read room." I'm not kidding. Look:

These two pictures show the two sets of bookshelves that line my library walls. And as you can see, the books are not all contained in these shelves. 99% of the books are ones I haven't read. My hope is to some day read each of them, and every so often one does come down off the shelf, either because I listened to it on audio or had an opportunity to fit it into my reading schedule (especially if I'm moderating a panel the author's on or interviewing them or something like that). And I've gotten much better at finding a new home for a book once I've read it. The exceptions to that rule are: my personalized books and books I think I'm going to re-read at some point in the future. Books that are personalized aren't in the library, though. They're on the shelves in my office, which are now almost full as well.

Obviously my cup runneth over in the book department. I do not sell ARCs that are given to me for review, and I just can't bring myself to throw them away (unless they are truly very bad and I wouldn't wish the book on anyone else). Plus I like to share the love with books, so when books come that I know I won't read or won't have the time to read and when the pile of "already read" books is falling over, I go in search of places to send my beloved books. Places where they'll be appreciated and loved as they should be.

I have friends who regularly receive care packages from me. I also do giveaways here as you know. But lately I've gone in search of other creative places to find new homes for books. I have a box packed up now to go here and I think I'm also going to sign up here. Last year when I went to give out books for World Book Night, I went to an underprivileged school, so I took a bag full of my own books to donate to the teachers' lounge.

Since I'm on a regular look-out for other places that can benefit from these books, I thought I'd raise the question for you all. Where have you found to donate books? If they have a website, feel free to leave it for us in the comments so we can check out the different organizations.

Oh, I should probably also mention that while I buy copies of the books I LOVE and most often share my ARC with someone else, there are a few authors whose ARCs remain in my possession: Robert Crais, Gregg Hurwitz, Michael Koryta, Craig Johnson...I can't exactly explain it to you, I simply can't part with them. I guess I just can't give up that "saver" instinct completely!

Have a wonderful week, and don't forget to share those organizations where we can donate books!


Bylli Johnson January 21, 2013 at 3:48 AM  

Don't forget, your local used book store could really use those donations! (no ARC obviously) We love our community independent bookstores and donating books to them, means a little more profit for them to keep the doors open to those magical sanctuaries for book nerds!

bermudaonion January 21, 2013 at 8:51 AM  

I'm going to echo Bylli - I give a lot of my old books to my local indie. She does take ARCs, as well as finished books, but gives the ARCs to customers. I also donate books to hospitals here. I do love the idea of sending some to prisoners and soldiers.

George January 21, 2013 at 9:13 AM  

I just organized my new office/library and have a box of books to donate (generally to the public library for their continual book sale) and a stack of ARCs, which I don't know what to do with but I can't throw them away! I wish I had more space for shelves!

BLB January 21, 2013 at 10:22 AM  

I work in a library and we accept donations, though we can't do anything with ARCs. Some of the donations get added to our collection but most go to our book sale room. Please only donate books to your local library if they are clean and in good condition. You wouldn't believe some of the "crap" people think we can use just because they don't want to throw it away.
If I buy a book, new or used in good conditon, I make sure it is one we don't have in our collection so I can add it later. That way I know the book will be enjoyed by others when I am finished with it.

Kristopher January 22, 2013 at 8:38 AM  


I am a fan of The Book Thing in Baltimore.

Madeline Mora-Summonte January 22, 2013 at 10:17 AM  

Love those shelves! :)

Books about the craft of writing and certain signed books live in my office. Other signed books and special/favorite ARCS have their own bookcase in the living room. All the other books that live on the living room shelves are ones I love or really like. Otherwise, they get donated to Friends of the Library bookstore or the little library in our development.

Jenn's Bookshelves January 22, 2013 at 11:03 AM  

You know I feel your pain! I recently donated roughly 600 books to various organizations! Mostly to a local organization that provides books to hospitals, jails, etc. I also donate to my indie and my local library system. Retirement homes and shelters of various other types are also always willing to take books off my hands!

Most recently, I donated several boxes of books to an organization that was repopulating the libraries devastated by Sandy.

Good luck! It's an arduous task, but so fulfilling in the end!

Rhiannon January 28, 2013 at 12:43 AM  

Thanks for the Books for soldiers link, I have been looking for a way to rid myself of ARCs since I am a one and done reader.

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