One of the used bookstores in my hometown had a really great offer: fill a produce box with as many books as you could for only $24.95. I would go and clear whole sections of that bookstore. And it got worse when the price dropped to $19.95. The books kept multiplying, faster than I could read them.
When I finally realized the number of books I had meant I could open my own library branch, I went through all my books and made piles:
1. books I've read many times and will definitely read again
2. books that I had read once, and never read again
3. children's books that are worth collecting (original hardcovers, hard to find, etc)
4. children's books that aren't worth collecting (Babysitter's Club, Sweet Valley, etc.)
5. books that I had never actually read (yes, I had some of those in my collection)
8. comic books
I held onto the books in category 1, 3, and 8. I re-read favorites and I plan to one day be able to give my children some of my books, so I refused to get rid of those. And my comics just hold too special of a place in my heart to get rid of. The books in groups 2 and 4 were donated to my local library. Books in group 5 had mixed fates. If a book was in group 5, I would flip through it, and decide if it still was interesting. If it was, it stayed, but I had to read it within a month. If I didn't, it was to be donated to the library at the end of that month. Some of the books I decided not to keep, I decided to add to Bookcrossing (http://www.bookcrossing.com
) and I must admit there was a certain joy in hearing a little boy yell, "Mommy! Look! A free book!"
Cookbooks provided me with another issue. I love cooking, and I especially love to bake. But I couldn't just keep collecting cookbooks - they took up two whole rows alone! I then sorted the cookbooks into three piles: books I referenced a lot, books I referenced sometimes, and the ones I never used. The ones I never used were immediately added to the "Give to Library" box. The books I used a lot were put back on the shelf. Then I went through the "sometimes" books and flagged each recipe that looked interesting. I scanned each interesting recipe and saved it as a PDF. Then the book was added to the "Give to Library" box. Time consuming, yes, but it let me keep those recipes to use. It also had the benefit of making it easy to share the recipe when it was asked for.
Textbooks- eek! They're heavy which absolutely sucks when moving and the schools change to new editions often enough to make getting a decent amount of money back from re-selling difficult. I do need to reference my textbooks in my line of work, but I sure didn't need to keep all of them. I sold what I could, and the others were donated to the library.
So, once I did that, I had to give myself a new book-buying policy. Thankfully, the used bookstore I mentioned earlier stopped their wonderful deal, so that temptation was removed from me. Then, I told myself that I was not allowed to buy a new book for myself for a year. If I went into a used bookstore, I could only buy hardcover original Trixie Belden books, hardcover Villains by Necessity, and Jonathan Wylie books that I didn't have. These books have been hard for me to find, and I told myself I wasn't allowed to look for these online, either, so there really hasn't been any trouble there.
The library has been wonderful for me. San Diego's library is pretty extensive, and I have access to two local university libraries, too. The best resource for books, though, has been my friends and coworkers. We've started lending each other books, and it allows us to talk about the books (instead of always talking work!)