I Did the Unthinkable // A Discussion on Unhauling Books

Happy Friday, everyone!

Gosh, you have no idea how glad I am that it’s finally Friday! This past week has been an absolute whirlwind. I’m currently in the process of moving, have a choir concert on Sunday, have to finish my thesis defense presentation for next week, and am absolutely paranoid because the COVID incidence rate here is almost at 500 now. Which, even more horrifyingly, is still on the low end of the Bavarian spectrum! At least the government finally announced a few measures on Wednesday, but I highly doubt they’re enough to get things under control any time soon… Also, on a completely unrelated note, some idiot stole all my bicycle lights while I was at my choir rehearsal last week 😀 Those lights only cost about 15€! What was the point of stealing them, huh? Because of you, I had to walk home in the freezing cold and take precious time out of my week to buy replacements! Next time, just ask for the money if you’re that desperate!

Still, a couple of stolen bicycle lights aren’t the end of the world, so I suppose I can put it behind me and change the subject to something I love instead: Books!!! 😍😍😍

Big surprise, I know. Who would have suspected a book blogger to love books? However, it’s precisely because I love books so much that I have a bit of a problem: I kind of have a lot of them.

I’ve been a voracious reader my whole life, which means my book collection has been growing steadily from the moment I was old enough to be read to – which, thanks to my parents being avid readers as well, was pretty much the minute I was born. With every birthday and Christmas that passed, my personal library got a little bit larger. I am literally the easiest person ever to get presents for, because as long as what you give me is something readable that I don’t already own, I will love it.

Still, until I was around twelve, the number of books I owned was very manageable. I got a couple on special occasions here and there, but the majority of what I read came from the library. Both my elementary school library and my local library had way more things to choose from than I would ever have been able to read in my lifetime, so I didn’t really see the point of owning the books myself when I could just go and check them out whenever I wanted to.

Then, however, my family moved back to Germany, and suddenly, my supply of English books was cut off almost completely. Sure, our local library didn’t have a terrible selection of books, but almost everything they did have was in German. Obviously.

Which was a problem. For one thing, I missed English. While living in the states, I still spoke German with my family, so it was never like I was cut off from the language completely. But moving back to Germany meant that English was basically annihilated from my daily life. Apart from mind-numbingly boring English classes at school, emails to friends, and the few American DVDs we had at home, there was nothing.

Also, while there is definitely also German literature out there that I love, there is no denying that the overwhelming majority of the market is dominated by English works. And unless I wanted to read them in translation – something I would never recommend if you speak the original language a story was written in πŸ˜… – my only way to get access was to acquire copies of the books myself.

As a result, I suddenly found myself obtaining a lot more books than I ever had before. The birthday and Christmas presents got even more overwhelmingly bookish, and whatever money I earned myself was funneled straight into novels. Of course, I still did my research on which books I thought I would like, but unlike before, when I would only buy a book if I had previously borrowed it from the library and knew I would be re-reading it nonstop, I never knew exactly what I was in for. At some point, when e-books and online libraries became a thing, my rate of acquisition declined again, but I still found myself with way more books than I had ever dreamed of owning during my childhood.

And for the longest time, I didn’t mind! I loved my books! I had always dreamed of eventually having a big personal library, and every book I got felt like a step closer to achieving that dream.

Besides, a lot of thought went into everything I did buy. To this day, I have read every single book I have on my shelves. When there are more than five books on my physical TBR pile, I already start to get nervous. I have always considered myself incredibly lucky to have the resources to spend on books that I do, but it’s not like I have an endless supply of wealth, either. I’m not going to spend money on a book unless I’ve done my research, think I’m going to like it, and know I’m going to read it immediately.

So, for the most part, my shelves reflect my reading tastes pretty well. And although there are obviously a few bad eggs that didn’t end up living up to what I’d expected, I’ve always loved my collection too much to ever get rid of anything.

I just couldn’t understand how you could unhaul a book when you’d worked so hard to earn the money to buy it or when someone you loved had given it to you! Even if the book wasn’t all that great, there are still memories associated to it that make it special! There might be friends who would enjoy it more than you if you lent it to them! More books were definitely better than fewer books, I was sure, so even when my bookshelves started to become double-stacked and when extra bookshelves were added because double stacking was no longer enough, I refused to part with anything.

Until this past weekend. Like I mentioned in that somewhat ranty introduction, I’m currently in the process of moving. I’ve handed in my thesis and have no reason to live so close to my university anymore, so I thought I’d save some money on rent and temporarily move back in with my parents until I start teaching who-knows-where next spring.

There was just one teensy problem… When your books are spread across two different homes, it’s kind of easy to forget how many of them you actually have. The amount of extra stuff that was suddenly crowding my room was extremely overwhelming! So I decided it might finally be time to get rid of some of it.

The books I’m getting rid of. Don’t worry, I’m donating all of these! They will be going to lovely new booknerdy homes!

And boy, it was hard! I’ve always been a huge neat freak and have never had any trouble letting go of other stuff that I own, but when confronted with my bookshelves, I think I got an inkling of what it feels like to be a hoarder. While I did end up unhauling a fair number of books, every one of them was a struggle.

Like, my Langenscheidt German-English dictionaries? I never use them. They’re too big to take anywhere, and when I’m at home, using the internet is loads faster. But those dictionaries are also one of the last things my grandmother gave me before she died. I inherited them when she cleared out her house before moving into a retirement home.

Or How to Think Like Shakespeare. While I did think it was interesting, I just don’t think I’m ever going to reread it. But it was also one of the first books I was ever sent to review for this blog, and the author was genuinely one of the nicest people I’ve ever exchanged emails with!

Or Children of Blood and Bone. I didn’t like the book much, but a lot of my friends did. And they were so happy when I was able to lend them a copy!

I think you get the picture πŸ™ˆ I was able to come up with excuses for keeping basically everything, even when I was pretty sure I wouldn’t reread any of it. In some cases, the more rational part of my mind eventually won over, and I did end up parting with the books after all. But not always. I mean, I kept Heart of Darkness and Cursed Child, even though those are probably my most hated books of all time! What is wrong with me??!

To be honest, my reasoning sounds stupid even to me. I kept Heart of Darkness because it’s such a famous classic that it might not hurt to own a copy as a future English teacher. You know, in case any of my future students ever read it in their free time and want to discuss it. That isn’t that unlikely, is it? Also, I have extremely fond memories of ranting about the book with some of my university friends 😁 And I need a copy on hand in case I need to find quotes that will convince people of its awfulness!

The same goes for Cursed Child. Even though I will angrily glare at anyone who dares to suggest that book is canon, I just can’t get rid of something somehow associated with Harry Potter. Even if I only need it to prove to people why it contradicts everything the original series is about.

I know. I’m weird. Trust me, I’m aware of this. Those are not the only dumb choices I made. I kept the Red Rising series because my ex-boyfriend loved it. I kept the Red Queen series because the powers in the first book reminded me of this game my childhood best friend and I used to play, and because I bought the second book on vacation in England and it reminds me of the time I spent there. I kept the Delirium series because I liked it back in the day. But do I like any of these books now? Not really.

See what I mean? Unfortunately, I have a very good memory of where I got the books on my shelves, where I first read them, and, if they were presents, who gave them to me. Which makes it so much harder to let go, even if I didn’t like them! 😫

Also, my brain is very treacherous. Even if I don’t like the books now, it says, what if I do in the future? Like, I wasn’t a huge fan of Jane Eyre when I first read it, but now it’s one of my absolute favorite books. Or what if I have kids someday, and they want a variety of things to choose from? Maybe I should keep everything, just in case…

It’s bad. I’m way too sentimental for this unhauling business! In fact, there are quite a number of factors other than a book’s lack of quality that greatly influenced how easily I felt I could get rid of it:

  1. The shorter the book has been in my possession, the easier it is to let go, because I haven’t had as much time to become attached to it yet.
  2. Getting rid of books I bought myself is a thousand times easier than getting rid of those that were gifted to me.
  3. If I don’t own the complete series, I don’t feel as bad about letting the books go. I somehow find it incredibly annoying to have incomplete series on my shelves, but if I didn’t even like the first book, I’m obviously not buying the rest! So banishing book one instead seems like a fair compromise. Sometimes.
  4. In a similar vein, I hate splitting up series or companion novels! For example, I love Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda. I have very lukewarm feelings towards The Upside of Unrequited and Leah on the Offbeat. But I’m obviously not parting with the latter two! They go with Simon!
  5. If I don’t remember much about the book, it’s actually easier to part with it than if I hated it. If I hated it, I somehow feel as though it might be a good idea to keep it, just so I can go back and check why I hated it so much πŸ˜…
  6. If Scribd has the e-book or my library has the book, I can get rid of my copy way more easily! After all, I’ll still have access to the story.
  7. I have no problem whatsoever getting rid of multiple copies. I usually do that right when I’m gifted a duplicate anyway. I did still have a couple of Shakespeare doubles this time around, but at least parting with those was easy!
  8. It does make me feel slightly better to know that I will be donating the books I’m getting rid of, because at least then they will make someone else happy!

Anyway, I hope you’ve heard enough to know that I’m nuts πŸ˜‚ I definitely need to get better at this unhauling thing in the future, simply because my bookshelves are still overwhelmingly full. But it’s a start!

Still, I would love to know if any of you guys have these kinds of problems. Are any of you as stupidly attached to your books as I am? Or do you have no trouble at all letting go? Or are you simply not at the overflowing-shelves stage yet? Please tell me in the comments!

If you’ve got any experience unhauling, I would love to know how the process works for you. Or tell me how you go about buying books in the first place! Do you research them, or is a pretty cover already enough to convince you? Do you always read books immediately after you buy them? Do you have a good local library, or do you relate to my language issues? Let’s discuss!

35 thoughts on “I Did the Unthinkable // A Discussion on Unhauling Books

  1. Riddhi B. says:

    Ah, I see where you are coming from, i literally don’t think I will ever be able to give my books away, even the ones that are children’s, like Enid Blyton and stuff- I am way too attached for that!
    But great discussion, and I am proud of you for unhauling and giving those books new homes!

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Marta the Monogamist Reader says:

    Wow, this sounds like a massive dilemma!! From my side whenever I need to unhaul a few books I will try to sell them or give them to charity. I usually give away books I didn’t like hehe. I recently found out about this UK based website called Bookswap. You get points for every book you swap so at least I know it goes to someone who wants to read it. But, I guess, moving houses it’s a nightmare for every bookworm.

    Liked by 1 person

    • abookowlscorner says:

      Getting rid of books you didn’t like sounds so logical – yet somehow, some of those still end up staying on my shelves 🀣 I mean, the books I did get rid of are definitely also ones I wasn’t too fond of, or ones that I’m sure I won’t want to reread in the future. But there are still a couple of non-so-great ones that stayed on my shelves anyway πŸ˜…
      That Bookswap website sounds so useful though! I’ll have to see if we have anything similar here… Because I definitely agree that it’s a lot easier to let the books go if you know they’ll be appreciated in their new home!


  3. Suhani says:

    This made me realise that it’s time for me as well to unhaul some books from my overflowing bookshelf πŸ˜‚and agh I agree it’s so hard for me to part ways with my books even if I know I’ll never end up reading/rereading them again. I only keep Cursed Child with me to complete my Harry Potter collection even though I absolutely hated it(that’s definitely not a good reason for keeping it hahaha)Great post Naemi, I really enjoyed it!!

    Liked by 1 person

    • abookowlscorner says:

      Oh my gosh, I’m so relieved I’m not alone!!! πŸ€£πŸ˜…πŸ€£ That Cursed Child explanation is literally me πŸ™ˆ I absolutely detest it, and probably won’t ever reread it because it will make my blood boil all over again. But am I getting rid of it? Nope.
      But I wish you the best of luck if you do decide to unhaul some of your books! It is kind of nice to have a bit more shelf space again, I’m not gonna lie… Though, knowing me, I’ll probably have filled it up again in no time at all πŸ˜…

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Nehal Jain says:

    I’m so sorry for your bicycle lights 🀣. Not kidding, I really am…….πŸ™‚
    Anyways, I’ve never been able to unhaul any book of mine, I don’t have that many books but my bookshelf is kinda small and there’s literally no space for any more book and yet I can’t get rid of my books 😭😍. I’ve decided I’ll only buy books on my birthday now and read the rest from my local library or audiobook…but we’ll see how well that goes πŸ™‚.
    “I need a copy on hand in case I need to find quotes that will convince people of its awfulness!”
    Seriously? 🀣 why is that such a Naemi-like thing to do, lol.

    Liked by 1 person

    • abookowlscorner says:

      They were such good bicycle lights! 😭😭😭 And I’m still furious that I had to walk home because they were suddenly gone – it took me like 20 minutes instead of five, and it was COLD!!!
      And lololol, I relate to your unhauling views so much 🀣 That was literally me my whole life! But after almost 26 years of getting books, the situation kind of got very out of control…
      Finally, that quote is filled with very logical reasoning. I don’t know what you’re talking about 😎

      Liked by 1 person

  5. volatilemuse says:

    Answer yes I do have difficulty getting rid of books and yes I do have books spilling all over the place. I deal with the problem by getting rid of all Mr. Rune’s books! He reads spy stories and crime stuff and other genres that I don’t, and never revisits anything. Good luck with your move.

    Liked by 1 person

    • abookowlscorner says:

      I’m very relieved to hear that this seems to be a typical problem among us bookworms and that I am not alone! And I think your way of dealing with it is actually quite clever πŸ˜‚ Unfortunately, all the books on my shelves are my own, so I can’t adapt that method… In fact, more often than not, I’ll end up “saving” family books that my mom wants to throw out by transferring them to my own shelves, which only increases the overflowing bookshelves issue πŸ˜… But then again, homes where books are spilling all over the place are always the coziest ones that make you feel really welcome! So maybe, as long as it isn’t too overcrowded, having too many books is not a bad thing? πŸ€”

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Strawberrys Corner says:

    Omg, getting rid of books is so hard!! But now, mum wants to move country, I want to go abroad and study so I can’t keep all my books and have recently had to take a whole bunch off my shelves to donate later so I can get rid of them and only keep very few so I can move around with them. Definitely wish I had a Kindle Unlimited account so most of my books were there and I wouldn’t have to lose my babies… Will be doing that when I go to study so I can still read new books and not own too many to get home with haha also, sorry about the bicycle lights, that’s really unfortunate.

    Liked by 1 person

    • abookowlscorner says:

      Gosh, having to get rid of that many books sounds like an absolute nightmare! 😨 That must have been so hard!

      I definitely agree that e-books can help, though! Ever since I got Scribd, my book buying has thankfully gone down quite a bit again. But if I really loved a book, I want a physical copy! E-books just can’t compare with that feeling of flipping through pages while curled up on your bed and smelling the scent of that wonderful paper 😍 And besides, I always feel like my eyes get tired of e-books more quickly… So if I know I’ll be rereading a book time and time again, I’m buying a copy! 😁

      Liked by 1 person

      • Strawberrys Corner says:

        It was one of the hardest things I’ve done this year πŸ˜… I’ve always thought I was good at getting rid of things because I’ve never had a problem with it in the past and turns out that’s true as long as it’s not books…!

        Yes, same! I also want to buy some physical copies now of the ones I’ve read as an e-book and also yes, the screen does tire my eyes quicker too, my reading time has gone down some times to give my eyes a break πŸ˜‚

        Liked by 1 person

    • abookowlscorner says:

      Honestly, their libraries are almost enough to convince me that, maybe, living in big cities isn’t such a bad option after all… The Rotterdam Public Library already made me extremely envious when I visited this summer, and I can imagine Paris has even more to offer! 😍
      And I’m very impressed that you manage to power through and get rid of those books. I should probably start doing that immediately, too, so that I don’t have as much time to get attached πŸ˜‚

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Anoushka says:

    Can I just start with HOW MUCH I LOVED READING THIS POST?
    Ahem. As someone who lives off of ebooks, I don’t have enough books to consider giving them away, but I can understand. It’s so difficult to give away books, especially since you’ve got all these fond memories attached to them. I’ve tried to make up my mind to give away some of the books I read way back, when I was in elementary school, and that I know I’m probably not going to read again, but I CAN NEVER MAKE MYSELF. And agreed, the Cursed Child copy? I’ve practically sworn multiple times that I might just burn it someday, but whenever my mom asks me to give it away instead, I turn into this quiet little being.
    Amazing post, I loved reading this so much, and cannot wait for all your future posts!

    Liked by 1 person

    • abookowlscorner says:

      Like, those childhood books? They’re not going anywhere. But then again, I do really love the childhood books I own, since I pretty much only bought them in the first place if I’d already read a library copy and deemed it very reread worthy…
      But the Cursed Child thing? That is so me! 🀣 I mean, I’m not sure I would burn it, either. But keeping it around and glaring at it whenever I spot it on my shelf? Definitely 😁

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Line says:

    Well, I’m still at that stage you left when you were twelve πŸ˜… I only buy the books I know I love, and I rarely get gifted books so I don’t have your problem exactly. However, I have gotten rid of some books I got when I was younger that I didn’t want to take up space on my precious shelf, so I do recognize some of your concerns. I really should unhaul some of my Harry Potter books because, for some reason, I’ve ended up with four different editions of Deathly Hallows and three editions of Goblet of Fire and Half-blood Prince. But I have reasons for keeping them all, and I think I’m too emotionally attached.

    And I do relate to your Cursed Child problem. My copy is in a drawer because I didn’t have room on my shelves when I got it. I do now, but every time I open that drawer (which is rarely) I go “oh, right, that book” and then I close the drawer again and just leave it there πŸ˜… I’ll probably always keep it because it completes my Harry Potter collection but that’s also the only reason.

    Unhauling, in general, is also a bit of a problem for me because I don’t really have places here that would take my books. Our libraries are so good they usually already have a ton of copies of the books I want to get rid of, so they won’t take them and the same goes for the one used-bookstore we have here. So that’s also why I’m so careful about which books I get. I have no idea how to get rid of them if I don’t like them πŸ˜…

    Finally, I looked at the books you were unhauling and the first one I saw was The Last Magician. I was immediately appalled that someone would own that book until I reminded myself that you were getting rid of it so it’s fine πŸ˜‚ I also agree that you should be getting rid of Beauty of Darkness, Passenger and Children of Blood and Bone. Those shouldn’t take up space no matter how many excuses you’ve come up with for keeping them πŸ˜‰

    Liked by 1 person

    • abookowlscorner says:

      Your book buying habits are definitely smarter than mine, then – or you just have way better libraries πŸ˜‚ I’ve certainly never had the problem that libraries and second-hand shops didn’t accept a donation. And seeing that they only ever got copies of books that were so popular I was gifted them multiple times, that’s saying something… But it’s only fair that I should have an easier way of getting rid of the books in exchange for not having the cool libraries! 😁

      Also, I totally understand you on the multiple Harry Potter copies. When I said I had no trouble getting rid of duplicates, that applies to everything EXCEPT Harry Potter πŸ˜‚ I currently have three Chamber of Secrets copies, for example. But one of them is the original UK edition, one of them is part of the US box set whose spines make Hogwarts – How could I not want that?? 😍 – and one of them is the UK illustrated edition. But, strictly speaking, you could say they’re different books, right? πŸ€” After all, the UK and US editions are not identical in content – they got edited separately, so there are actually a few details that can only be found in one of the two. So obviously, I need both. Plus, the US editions have chapter title illustrations, and those are the ones I grew up with when I first got the books at their midnight releases. I prefer the UK editions, but it’s not like my family was going to wait for shipping! And finally, the illustrated edition is illustrated, so obviously, it’s a different book 😁 (Of course, that still doesn’t explain why I need three copies when we also have two family copies of the book, but… it’s Harry Potter! And I only have single copies of all other books I own, so I feel like I’m allowed to be ridiculously emotional over Harry Potter πŸ₯°)

      Also, thank you for validating my Cursed Child feelings! I definitely think it should stay in that drawer πŸ˜‰ My Harry Potter books actually have a very central position on top of bookshelves, and Cursed Child is squeezed on top of the Hogwarts spine box set where you don’t really notice it as much. Because that book does not deserve a place of honor! (But I also hate separating series πŸ™ˆ)

      I’m also glad you approve of my unhauling choices 🀣 (I hope all those awful books make up for me also getting rid of The Library of the Unwritten πŸ˜‰) Though I did almost convince myself I should keep The Last Magician because I bought that book while studying abroad. But then I thankfully came to my senses and remembered that my university sweater and mug from the city I studied at were probably much better keepsakes than that stupid book. And plus, I definitely wasn’t going to buy the rest of the series so it had to go for aesthetic purposes πŸ˜‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • Line says:

        Yes, I’ll also accept not being able to get rid of books in exchange for good libraries πŸ˜„

        And now I’m kinda relieved because it sounds like you own even more Harry Potter books than I do πŸ˜† I also have that US box set with the Hogwarts image, and any Harry Potter fan needs to own that, so they don’t count as multiple editions (yes, I make the rules). And I also need to keep my first editions of the Danish hardbacks because they don’t sell those any more and that first book was also the first book I ever owned. We have so many good reasons for keeping our many Harry Potter books πŸ˜„ (Except maybe Cursed Child)

        I did see The Library of the Unwritten but chose to ignore the pain πŸ˜… Still sorry I made you buy it when you didn’t like it. But yes, there were so many in those stacks I agreed with that it did make up for it a little bit.

        Liked by 1 person

        • abookowlscorner says:

          Don’t worry – when I pick out books on my own, the mediocre quota is definitely way higher than among what you’ve recommended, so I think I can easily forgive you for The Library of the Unwritten πŸ˜‚ Especially when we agree on that there are plenty of good reasons for owning multiple Harry Potter books πŸ₯°

          Liked by 1 person

  9. farfromperfect07 says:

    I had to unhaul book during Covid cuz I had no more space I literally cried when I had to give some of them away. Those books were my entire childhood and it felt weird giving them away but then I told myself that other kids will get to read these amazing books and maybe they will become a part of their childhood as well.
    Ik how hard it is to give away books so well done.

    Liked by 1 person

    • abookowlscorner says:

      That must have been so hard! I’m particularly nostalgic about anything concerning my childhood, so most of the books I parted with were ones I got when I was older… But I’m proud of you for managing to unhaul those books! And thinking about them making other children happy and becoming a huge part of their lives definitely makes things easier! Plus, it must be nice to have some shelf space again πŸ˜‚

      Liked by 1 person

    • abookowlscorner says:

      I’m glad I’m not alone! And yes, it definitely helps knowing the books might go to homes where they’ll be appreciated more! Or, sometimes, if I’m really struggling, I’ll ask myself if I would buy a replacement copy if I lost the book. Realizing that the answer to that question is “no” does get you thinking… Though I’ll still often end up keeping the book anyway πŸ˜‚πŸ™ˆ

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Anonymous says:

    This post resonates with me a lot. I also have problems getting rid of books for all sorts of reason, similar to yours.
    Also, I like reading dystopian novels. They give me ideas — whenever I think about unhauling some of my physical books I think about what would happen if there was a collapse of civilization, no more electricity, no more ebooks — I’d need my physical books!!! (Never mind that I’d probably have other problems). πŸ˜‚
    I did manage to get rid of some books after my last move in 2018, but I’ve still got way too many for moving purposes.

    Liked by 1 person

    • abookowlscorner says:

      I’m glad I’m not the only one who comes up with ridiculous reasons for keeping their books. That post-apocalyptic future sounds like a good one, I’d say πŸ˜‚ Even if there were more pressing problems, having a good story to cheer you up would be even more important in such a situation!
      And I also really like reading dystopian novels – they always make me think about how our own world works 😊


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