357 linear feet later . . .

(EDITED TO AMEND:  Not 157 linear feet, as I said earlier, but 357!  I’d forgotten many of my notes were in linear yards, not feet!)

When Miss D. and I moved to Tennessee five years ago, we brought with us a very large library.  It consisted of books I’d boxed up and shipped from South Africa, the accumulation of the first 37 years of my life;  what I’d gathered during my years as a pastor down in Louisiana;  and what she brought from Alaska when she came down to first nurse, then marry me.  Suffice it to say there were a lot of books.  An awful lot – so much so that they had to stay boxed, because we didn’t have room (or bookshelves) to unpack them all.  Add to that what we both (mostly me) accumulated during the past five years, and things were clearly out of control.  Something had to be done.

As part of the plan to bring our belongings under control, we deliberately chose to move into a relatively small duplex that didn’t have a lot of free space.  All our excess stuff (including most of our books, including all the boxes I hadn’t yet unpacked after bringing them from Louisiana) went into a storage unit.  Over time, relatively slowly, we unpacked boxes of books there, decided what to keep, packed up the surplus and drove it to a local used bookstore, then re-packed the ‘good stuff’ to bring here in due course.

Over the past few weeks, in between battling kidney stones and the after-effects of their treatment (both are equally bad, IMHO!), I got stuck into the last boxes.  This afternoon I finished the final one.  My library has now been reduced to 72 linear feet of bookshelves, tightly packed, and Miss D.’s is down to about ten linear feet in her own bookshelf.  I’ve got to try to reduce mine a bit more, but that shouldn’t be too hard, as I know there are duplicate volumes.  As I start to sort the books into categories, then alphabetically by author, I’ll get rid of the duplicates and free up the space they occupy.  Other books will doubtless be turfed out as I reluctantly conclude that they’re nice, but not essential.  In particular, anything I can get in e-book format is likely to go.

My best estimate is that I’ve gotten rid of the equivalent of 275 linear feet of books.  It’s been a wrench, because to a bookworm the loss of any volume one’s enjoyed is always painful.  On the other hand, it’s a vast relief to realize that the appallingly large stack of boxes of books is no more, and everything’s (roughly) in its place.

And yes . . . my back hurts.  After moving (sometimes repeatedly) 357 linear feet of books, it’s got a right to hurt!



  1. Been there, done that (a couple of times over the years). After 20+ years of service in the armed forces, and 17 years of marriage that ended in divorce 18 months ago, I downsized into a 700 square foot apartment. I just didn't have room for somewhere north of 300 linear feet of books.

    I kept about 50 feet of non-fiction hardbacks (mostly history of one kind or another) and about half that in fiction, both hard and soft cover.

    Thank goodness I switched to a kindle a couple of years ago for my fiction habit as I would have been in a worlld of hurt trying to fit everything I wanted to keep into my present lodgings.

  2. I feel most of your pain (except for the stones, because wow.) We got rid of most of our books prior to moving to Alaska, because what we kept had to fit into two cars. But since then, we've still accumulated so many that we have more in totes in the garage than are displayed in our large bookshelf in the office. It's one of the hardest things to do, and I commend you for having disposed of so many.

  3. I've had my library amputated a few times in life, sometimes willingly – but sometimes not, and that has made it harder when I did go in and prune it myself. This last move, though, it was imperative that I cut it to the bone. Then, once I was here, we discovered that my dust allergy is aggravated everytime I handle the books. So we are choosing to be very constrained on what we add to the shelves. Ebooks are so much better for storage, dust, and portability issues!

  4. A number of years back I was the repeat victim of (another) corporate move; moving is a PITA of The First Order, but when someone else is doing the packing, carrying and paying, it's minimally tolerable.

    Decades of accumulation produced, again, a tightly packed moving van of "stuff," among which was what we thought a reasonable quantity of books. In the ensuing months of unpacking and storing, the book boxes constituted a monument around which we detoured daily; the previous residence had abundant built-in bookcases, the new one required they be procured. Eventually it happened, and while humping book boxes to the shelves curiosity got the better of me. I have no clue how many linear feet of bookcases wound up in that house, but I do remember my bathroom scale said a little over 4,700 pounds of the moving truck load was hard- and softbound reading material. Such is the penalty of addiction to the printed word.

    I know many find electronic books reprehensible, but when I moved recently, this time at my own expense and effort, I greatly appreciated the ease of moving my two kindles and the tiny amount of shelf space they consume.

  5. Multiple stones in both kidneys, 50/50 chance of passing this 8mm one currently giving me fits, may require a stint and dragging it out. Go back in a month for another X-ray and an ultrasound, also have multiple cysts in there.

    I'm a seasoned pro at this. This one is #17 or 18. I've lost count over the years…

    Oh! Get this, the urologist asked why I didn't make a 6 month follow up appointment when they said I should when I had my last stone in 2012. I told him I asked and reminded my doc about that and he just blew it off. I had a bladder tumor (benign) removed a year or so before that and they wanted a follow up as well but the VA blew that off as well!

  6. I used to have a large library too. Now most of my books are ebooks! I still some favorites in paper form. The ebooks are stored and managed in the Caliber Library.

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