Over at Kelli's blog, I was delighted to see this blog post where she's giving away The Happiness Project, a book that originally belonged to me. I read it, enjoyed it enough, but knew I didn't want to keep it. Shortly after, I saw that it was on Kelli's To-Read list, and I wrote to ask if she'd like a gently used copy. She said yes, and I mailed it. And now it's ready for a new home.
I have many books on my shelves that I'm ready to send on to new homes. I've spent the last 2 decades buying books. I'd often read a library copy first, then about a year or two later, I'd see the book on the remainder shelf or in a used bookstore. I'd think, "Wow, that was a good book. Some day, I'll want to read it again. And here it is, only two dollars." And I'd buy it. And it's been sitting on my shelf ever since.
I am coming to terms with the fact that there are more wonderful books in the world than I will ever have a chance to read. I am sadly acknowledging that I will never reread most books.
In addition, my bookshelves contain many books that were important to me years ago, but I've internalized their wisdom now and don't need the book. I have a whole bookcase of creativity books, for example. Lots of how to get published books (most of them, yes, saying the same thing, and most of them written before the explosion of Internet/electronic possibilities). Lots of books of writing prompts.
We used to move every other year or so. Moving offers a wonderful opportunity to sort through stuff and get rid of it. We haven't moved since 1998. It's time to start sorting, beginning with the books.
But what to do with them? I will send the books in my theology bookcase to the Theological Book Network. This organization ships books to seminaries and schools Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Why books, you ask. Why not electronic material? Because in many of those countries, electricity cannot be counted upon, and Internet access is not existent. But a book is surprisingly durable and can be shared with many readers.
But what to do with the non-theological books? I could donate them to the public library, which doesn't need them. You'd probably think that they would sell them, in a Friends of the Library sale kind of event. Maybe. But really, how many of these books can they sell in a year?
When I saw Kelli's book give-away postings yesterday, I had a flash of insight. I could give books to people who might be genuinely interested in giving the books a good home. The book gets a second life. And if the recipient passes the book along, so much the better: third lives, fourth lives!
I'm considering this possibility: each week next year, I'll have a book give-away. Maybe I'll give away one book that everyone knows about because of my post and a surprise book. Maybe in the comment section where people enter the drawing, they could talk about their other interests to help me choose the surprise book. The idea of doing this delights me.
I had this thought too, which may seem unbearably mercenary. If I put some information in the packages of books that I sent out, information about my own books, then the cost of postage becomes tax deductible, if I declare myself a writer, and deduct expenses and claim the income, such as it might be.
So, yes, I shall give this idea a whirl. On January 2, I'll post the first book give-away and have the drawing on January 9, along with the next book give-away.