My Books are Never so Happy as When they are all Together


I have moved recently and whenever I move I am always fretting over how much stuff I have. Not the least of which is a rather large collection of books. My library as it were. I have been hauling this collection of books around the country with me for some 50 years. Every time I make a move I try to winnow it down to a core number, but giving away books is a little like giving away children. It is an agony.

I discovered Christopher Hitchens


had a similar problem as he described in his essay, Prisoner of Shelves: “I try to cull them out but the closer I get to the center the harder it is to cull. I can’t throw out a book that has been with me for years and is like an old friend. Or a book that has been written by an acquaintance or who knows when I will need a reference to a subject however obscure. I never lend my books, I am compulsive about not letting them out of my sight.”

I feel the same way. In fact I composed this little ditty to describe my feelings:

Neither a lender nor a borrower be
For borrowing dulls the edge of husbandry
With this in mind then, if you still want to borrow
I’ll expect the book back by tomorrow.


When I moved from Trenton to Louisville three years ago I gave away literally 20 cases of books and downsized five bookcases. It gets harder each time. I just moved from a three bedroom house to a two bedroom apartment and once again find myself downsizing. At least now they are all together and they couldn’t be happier.


4 thoughts on “My Books are Never so Happy as When they are all Together

  1. You captured it well: but giving away books is a little like giving away children. 🙂
    I’m learning to travel light and hang on to my favourite favourites. An e-reader can hold many books, but it isn’t quite the same. 🙂


    • Thanks Timi. I have an e-reader too which I use for traveling and I bring it with me to work. Like you, I prefer the real thing. Would you believe that quite often I will own the actual book but read it on my Kindle. Go figure!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. I like seeing the books people treasure snd find meaningful, Benn. Nicely written and I had to downsize from a house to an apt. It really helped me to determine which books would “carry me through the rest of my life.”
    I liked your ditty, Benn.

    Liked by 1 person

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