Five-Minute Freewrite: Books (3/24)

in freewrite •  last year

Okay, I am giving this #freewrite contest a try with the prompt "books". Here is a visual which included the books that I sorted, many of which I gave away.

Timer is now set for five minutes...

Last month, I roughly 350 of my books to a local used bookstore. It was time. Choosing which books to give away was the hardest thing. I was an English major in college and have a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing, so I was continually acquiring books. They are compulsive items to me, and for some reason I could never throw them away. I realized that I didn't know who I was without them. But after reading Marie Kondo's book on The Japanese Art of Tidying up, I recognized that giving away the books that no longer mattered to me was an important part of moving on. It has been difficult. In graduate school, I knew exactly who I was. I was a writer. Without that label, though, in my professional career, I have struggled. A label is something elusive and on the surface, but there is a part of me that doesn't quite accept that I am still a writer without some kind of outward validation.

In the act of giving a number of my books away, though, I received what I needed. A man from Downtown Books, my local used book store, came over to pick them up. As he was walking up the stairs, I dove into my pile and yanked out all the volumes of poetry. I realized they still mattered to me. My ratted up copy of Canterbury Tales was easy to give away, but when it came time to remove the poems from my house, I balked. I still need you...


Okay, that is where my #freewrite entry ended. There is so much more I could say about this, though. Thanks, @mariannewest, for putting this contest together. Here is a link to the post for those who'd like to participate:

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I guess that explains why your posts are so well written.

I've heard of The Japanese Art of Tidying up I think when I was reading Getting Things Done by David Allen. It feels great when everything is organized, I'm pretty messy most of the time.

Have you watched 9th Gate, or read the book version The Club Dumas? I think of the main character every-time I hear of a book buyer.


Hey @kirkins, thank you, that’s very nice of you to say.

I highly recommend The Japanese Art of Tidying Up. If you go through the process, it is much easier to keep things neat afterwards.

I’m not familiar with the 9th Gate or The Club Dumas but will check them out.

The book buyer who came to get my books was great. Very eccentric. Bushy white beard with an air of resignation. I couldn’t imagine him doing anything else :)

I have way too many books. I have trouble selling them cheap at garage sales. By that I mean I don't like giving them away for 50 cents. It's not worth the time to set up a garage sale. There are a few rate ones I've sold on Amazon. I look for free libraries in the street to trade them for different books. I'll usually trade 3 of mine for one from the library. I've also just been a little more open to lending people books if they're interested. It's not like anyone will give them back anyway.


Well, I'll tell you a secret. This was a five-minute freewrite challenge, so I didn't go back and correct something I would have otherwise. The proprietor of the book store gave me $60 for my loot. I could have negotiated with him for more, but I was satisfied with what he offered. I spent the money on a nice dinner out with a friend. It was about letting go of the old so that I could bring in new experiences.

If you have books you'd like to get rid of, you can try calling a used book store if there's one in your area. They will often come directly to you and haul them away, which is also a big help.

Ahhh now therein lies a tale to be told...

In a world where knowledge has become so ephemeral and everything is stored digitally and not analogue, books become more valuable not less. Think about how your great-grand parents had physical photographs taken of them and you could see them a hundred years later? What will happen to today's throwaway society? Will we even be able to see let alone understand us now? Already tv shows or movies of the last 30 years unless they are commercialised and made into digital copies are lost forever.

What are we missing out on every decade we move forward without looking back?

Whoops.. I just went into a long rant about the perils of bitrot that was well out of place in this thread so I removed it.

I will be more suited to a personal post. Sorry.


Good points. Thank you!

Have you ever judged a book by its cover (or the label on its spine) then having read it, find it is so much more complex than you thought initially? A label can be a comforting cocoon, but can also constict and strangle. I may have a horde of books from my MA thesis that I probably will never use again. I should follow your example and let them go.


Gawd yes. The Origin of Species and A Brave New World come to mind. Note that they are both science books... My criteria for clearing out the books (according to the Japanese Art of Tidying Up) was that if a book no longer brought me joy, it was sold or given away.