Dear Apartment Therapy,
As much as I love to pare it down, keep it simple, the one category of "stuff' that remains relatively untouched in my apartment are the books on the shelves. I know there are some that could go, but what's a good rule of thumb for skimming off the excess when it comes to paperbacks and prose?
This is a great question and one that is sure to invite different opinions. We see books as falling into four categories:
1. working books - one's that you are currently reading or working with
2. stored/loved - these are the VERY FEW that have made an impact in your life
3. stored/enjoyed - one's that you are done with and enjoyed
4. all others
We also feel that
a. books are cheap
b. books are easier to find today than ever before
c. holding onto books is holding onto the past
Therefore, we say get rid of all the books in categories 3 & 4, and keep at it every 6 months when you have finished with books in category 1. It is better to need a book and buy it at The Strand or online, than to carry around 100 so-so books in case you might need one. Also, you can get good money for your books (see The Strand).
To ease other fears, we keep a journal of the books we read each year. This list of titles and authors allows us to go back and scan for a book we may be thinking about and not remember exactly. If it is worth getting again, it is then down to The Strand or to Powell's online.
Thanks, Jayme!) MGR