I will be moving into a new house this summer so I’m sorting through all the things I’ve accumulated since my last move—including my book collections. Since I enjoy physical books as much (and sometimes more) as eBooks, my shelves are overflowing. Yes, it’s time to winnow down both my fiction and non-fiction books.
I’m clearing a shelf at a time, alternating between fiction and non-fiction. My criteria? For non-fiction it usually revolves around research books for past, current, and future books I wrote, am writing, or will write in the near future. History books, medical books, and books on writing. Some have lost their relevance as I’ve changed my writing focus and some contained only a small section related to what I was researching or I found a better, more up-to-date source.
For fiction, do I enjoy reading the book a second (third or tenth) time? If not, why not? I’ve learned that what I enjoy today as a reader is not the same as it was ten or fifteen years ago—and in some instances, not even two or three years ago. Why? What’s changed?
I’ve changed. And it made me think about how my writing has changed—it’s evolved as I’ve learned more about the craft of writing. As I’ve learned better ways of developing a compelling story, my voice has emerged and become stronger, more me. So why wouldn’t my choice in reading material evolve too?
My fiction reading has become a little more eclectic. I’ve branched out into fantasy, paranormal, urban fantasy, steampunk, and rediscovered science fiction. Romance, especially romantic suspense, is still my go-to sources when I want a feel-good read. Still not a fan of cozy mysteries (but I’ve enjoyed a few), women’s fiction (yes, I’ve enjoyed some of these too), or horror. But I used to turn my nose up at historical novels and now enjoy a number of different historical authors.
And I have some authors I can read their books over and over again. I can still get lost in the worlds they’ve created—like visiting old friends and talking about shared adventures. Sometimes a good story is timeless. And those books will always find a home on one of my shelves.
All of which gives me hope. I’ll never run out of things to read. I’ll never run out of new authors to “discover.” And I really hope it means I’ll never run out of evolving readers who will discover my old and new books. New readers who find their taste in reading material has evolved and changed just as mine has done.
As for the books I no longer want or need, they are going to the library to find new readers, to be shelved or sold for money to buy new authors and research books so the cycle can continue.
What about you? Do you periodically clear your shelves of books no longer needed or wanted? Do you have favorite books you love to revisit over and over?