A Not-So-Still Life with Books

Steph_2 copy (2)By Stephanie Stamm

Last week, I posted about clearing out my house, letting go of things—like notes for a dissertation completed 17 years ago—that I no longer need. While I had intended to do some clearing this year anyway, I’ve been doing more than I’d expected. The universe had bigger plans than I was aware of. I’m no longer cleaning out my house just to free up space. I’m cleaning it out because I’m moving—from Michigan to Atlanta—for a new job.

Big changes.

One of my friends noted that the distraction of all the things we have to do to make such big changes serves a purpose. Focusing on the details of cleaning out files, getting rid of books and clothes and housewares we no longer use/need, and contacting realtors, etc., keeps us from completely freaking out about the really big change of relocating our lives.

I’ve contacted a realtor to begin the process of putting my Michigan house on the market. I’ve started working with another to find a new home in Atlanta. Now I’m back to working on getting rid of things that don’t need to move with me.

More books packed and ready to donate
More books packed and ready to donate

I finally made it through all the files—and the associated document shredding. I also made a second pass at the books. A few weeks ago I packed up roughly 120 books for donation. This weekend, after finishing the filing, I bagged another 100 or so to go. That still leaves me with a lot of books. I’ll probably be able to get rid of some more, but I have to release them a few at a time. Here are some I haven’t been able to let go of—and the reasons why:

These two belonged to my father. I know I gave him one of them. I might have given him both. I keep them in memory of him.


I wrote my dissertation on Charlotte Bronte. I tossed out my notes, but I can't let go of all my Bronte books.
I wrote my dissertation on Charlotte Bronte. I tossed out my notes, but I can’t let go of all my Bronte books.


This one has been popping into my head lately, so I think I might have to re-read it.
This one has been popping into my head lately, so I think I might have to reread it.


There are lots more I’m keeping. Because I haven’t read them yet. Because they’re signed by the author. Because a friend or family member gave them to me. Because I love them–and though I may not reread them for a long time, if ever, I still want them in my possession. As I said, I may get rid of some more before the moving is all over. But not today.

What books do you cling to, and why do you cling to them?


Connect with me:

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I am the author of the New Adult/Young Adult urban fantasy series, The Light-Bringer:




I have also contributed stories (one fictional and one true) to the following volumes:

Undead of Winter Front Only Into the Storm Cover


15 thoughts on “A Not-So-Still Life with Books

  1. Congratulations on the New job, and the weather will be much milder in Atlanta. I understand the getting rid of books. I have books in every room and a floor to ceiling bookcase in the office. I have a hard time of getting rid of books. I have a lot of signed books that I love, especially Sue Grafton’s. As you know I got rid of over 1000 books recently. I will post a photo today. LOL I’m not moving completely, but we are going to partially winter in Florida and stop in a few other times during the year. Can’t go completely, we have a great grandbaby, and two more on the way. LOL I’m like you. I can only let go of a few books at a time. I have a box in the laundry room ready to go, but I didn’t close the lid, so as I passed by it a couple of days ago, I retrieved one of the books. Cher’ley


    1. Cher’ley, I love that last bit about walking by the open box and retrieving one of the books. Too funny! I do stuff like that. Congratulations on the partially wintering in Florida, and the coming grandbabies. And I admire you getting rid of that many books. That’s a lot!


  2. Congrats on your move to Atlanta. It’s not so hard to declutter when you’re moving, books are another thing. For years I kept every book I read that I loved. I also collect old Betty Crocker cookbooks. One day I sat down and realized that I could get every one of the books I love at the library to read whenever I want to or put it on my Kindle. That made getting rid of some of the books, but I did keep a few. Good luck. Pack the books you don’t want, tape the box shut and get them wherever they’re going as soon as possible or they’ll probably go along with you. Ask me how I know, ha,ha.


    1. That’s good advice, Linda. It’s true–there’s always the library or the Kindle. I just need to pack them up and let them go. And, as you said, tape the box, so I don’t start pulling books back out like Cher’ley! 🙂


  3. I can get rid of papers, appliances,etc. but not my books. There seems to be some deep need in me to have them around. Of course, as I’ve said before, when I pass, they are to go so a small country library and or to help start a new one.

    I must say, Atlanta should be a great adventure. I wish you all the best and will be thinking of you as I go through my ‘spring’ cleaning. Doris


  4. Congrats on your new job! I hope you love Atlanta! I spent a few days there several years ago, but not enough time to form an opinion about what living there would be like.

    As for books, I’ve been cleaning out my books though i apparently have no where near as many as many other people do…. I decided to get rid of a bunch of books I didn’t like and others that, for one reason or another, don’t leave me with happy feelings when I see them. I’m actually creating a list of the books I’m getting rid of and hope to eventually include all the books I own on it, so I have a ready reference if I ever need it.
    I used to feel like I had to keep every book I read, but, and I’m not sure why, I’ve stopped feeling that way. There are a few books I’ll always keep for myriad reasons – sentimental reasons, they’re signed, they were written by friends, etc. The book I probably have the most sentimental attachment to is one that belonged to Dot Bromwell. Do you remember her? She used to read the book to me when I was little. I’ve had it a really long time. The binding on it broke, and I had to tape it together to keep from losing the pages, but it makes me smile every time I look at it. I keep it in easy view of my desk.
    Anyway, good luck with your sorting and cleaning and organizing and your move and your new job! I hope it all goes smoothly!


    1. Wow–I do remember Dot Bromwell, but what a long time ago! That is so sweet that you have a book she read to you. I too have held on to a lot of books just because I loved them when I read them. But now I’m trying to convince myself that with libraries and Kindles and Nooks, I don’t have to actually keep them all. If I want to reread them, I can find them somehow. 🙂

      I’m excited about Atlanta. The traffic will take some getting used to, but the city has a lot to offer. I’m also excited about the job. I’ll be working with some great people.


  5. Congratulations on the new Atlanta job. I can identify with your need to get rid of stuff you don’t want or need to take with you. When I moved to Vegas a year ago (exactly a year ago to the day), I went in a 2003 Saturn Ion with everything I kept packed in the trunk and back seat. I took with me maybe 100 books. I donated around a thousand or even more to a local library. The last box targeted for the library… it packed too many books in it, and it’s weight wrecked my back. The aftermath causes me trouble to this day.


  6. Best wishes for your new job, Stephanie. I have major issues giving away or getting rid of books. Like you, I find some kind of memory attached to many of them and find it hard to let go. I’m glad I’ve not moved house during the last 25 years because the move to my present house involved numbers which read something like 30 crates out of 100 which were books. Like Mike says, the weight of each box can be a nightmare and needs careful handling!


    1. It’s been a challenge, Nancy, but I’m working on downsizing those possessions. I did take another load of books to the library this past weekend. I may be able to get rid of more before this is all over. We’ll see. I’ve only lived in this house for 10 years–but a lot of the books have moved with me multiple times. I can only imagine how much one an accumulate in 25 years!


    1. Thanks, S. J.! I’m trying to focus on the excitement and keep that level higher than the freaking out level. 🙂 It’s all good–just a lot of change and a lot to keep up with.


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