Your books: throw them out or hoard them in?

Tyler Cowen, masquerading as a penguin, tells us to throw out our books:

Here’s the problem. If you donate the otherwise-thrashed book somewhere, someone might read it. OK, maybe that person will read one more book in life but more likely that book will substitute for that person reading some other book instead.

So you have to ask yourself — this book — is it better on average than what an attracted reader might otherwise spend time with? No I’m not encouraging “censorship” of any particular point of view, but even within any particular point of view most books simply aren’t that good. These books are traps for the unwary.

Of course, you could do what I do with books, good and bad: hoard them.

An unfortunate consequence of this behavior: I am moving this weekend, and confront 40 boxes of books. (Well, technically, the two guys I hired through Craigslist will have to confront the books. But I feel for them.)

I sometimes question my attachment to so much paper. I really ought to become a better user of public libraries. It’s the compulsive scribbling of ideas in the margins, the underlining of important passages, and the chance that one day in the far flung future those scribblings will come in handy, that keep me hoarding. Early signs of insanity?

6 thoughts on “Your books: throw them out or hoard them in?

  1. When we helped my in-laws move, they had 74 boxes (!!) of books. That experience has encouraged me to use the library more, but I still have too many books. Good luck with the move!

  2. You are not alone in your malady and unfortunately being a frequenter of public libraries still hasn’t helped me much. From one sufferer to another my only tip for moving is to pillage local liquor stores and wine shops for discarded wine boxes – they are the single greatest packing medium for books. Nice strong cardboard, not too big so you can’t squeeze in more than your back can handle and a fairly uniform size so they stack well. They do however make you look like something of a louse when folks come over to help with the move.

  3. Those seem like some solid reasons to keep your good books, but why the bad ones? When I buy a book that I think is just awful, I can usually find an unsuspecting friend to take it off my hands. Everybody wins?

  4. I’ll have to say that I apppreicate those who get rid of there books as a nearby second hand book store has some titles that are out of print and or cheaper than Amazon, B&N and Borders when new.