Editor's Note: In an effort to keep Quirk E. Cat from napping at his desk, we have assigned him to Advice Column duty. We apologize in advance.
Dear Quirk E. Cat,
I find myself faced with a terrifying dilemma. Now that my children have moved out of the house, my husband and I are considering downsizing to a condo, apartment, or even – and I can picture your reaction as I type this – a tiny house.
Our problem is this: when my husband and I moved into the house 40 years ago, we brought our own libraries with us. When we had children, we instilled in them a love of reading and their book collections grew, evolving with age. But if we move, we can’t take all our books with us. There simply isn’t enough room. We’re grandparents now and we’d hate to get rid of books our children loved when they were younger. But also can’t get rid of everything on our own bookshelves. Scanning the stacks, I find the book I was reading when my husband proposed, when we found out I was pregnant, when my own parents died. These pages hold so many memories – memories too difficult to let go of. So I ask you, my feline friend: How do we downsize? What do we do with all this weight holding us back from our new home?
Librarian for Two
Dear Librarian for Two,
That is quite a tough nut to crack – and on my first ever advice column! Here’s what I think you should do: You say you have a lot of books. Like a ton of books. And they’re more memories than anything, right? It’s not like you’re going through and rereading every single book each year. So! What you should do is build your new home out of the books from your current home. It’ll definitely be cozier than a condo and what do you really need your home to have? Just a nice patch of sun, somewhere to put the litter box, and a little space for your food dish, right? You can easily build that out of the books you have. No problem.
Hang on my boss just stopped by my desk.
Okay. So my editor just reminded me that I’m writing an advice column for humans. Didn’t realize that’s what I was signing up for. In that case, I’ll rephrase my answer. You don’t have to get rid of all your books. When you choose your new home, look for a living room that can handle a bookcase along one of the walls. And then reserve that bookcase for your most memorable tomes. The books that give you that visceral reaction you wrote about. I promise that not every book in your house will give you that feeling.
There will be books you don’t remember reading, books you never got around to reading, and books you just plain didn’t like. Those are the books you should be getting rid of. It’s up to you what you do with those books, but I recommend donating them to either your local Friends of the Library chapter or a non-profit that places books in prisons. (My personal favorite is Books Through Bars, an organization based in Philadelphia where I live.) Let's support litter-acy!
As for the books you’re hanging onto for your grandchildren, invite your kids and your grandkids over to take those off your hands. If your grandkids are the right age for it, you can even turn this into a fun little book sale in your living room where each book costs a hug and a kiss. It’ll give you an opportunity to create new memories with those books you’ve loved for years.
Wherever you decide to move – be it apartment, condo, or tiny house – please make sure to save me a corner to nap in. You can count on me stopping by whenever is most inconvenient for you.
Trust me. Everything's going to work out purrrrrfectly.
Quirk E. Cat