: views from the Hill

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Organizing the Attic - Week Four BOOKS BOOKS BOOKS

Organizing the Attic - Week Four wherein our intrepid columnist attacks the books in the attic.

Well, numero uno. Books in the attic are never a good idea as Carter Anne Seddon Kinsolving Brown found out decades ago. (She'd put her library at the top of her old house and found that the top was sinking down and the walls were bulging out. ... She had to take all the books out of the upstairs library and rehab the house and then reorganize the library somewhere other than the top floor. ...)


Update: ASKBrown bio. The next mail will bring an intriguing query that puts you on your mettle. Or the parlour-maid may come up some morning and announce that your husband's 18th century dwelling is beginning to buckle under the weight of your books. This actually happened to us last Holy Week [1967], whereupon the Blessed Season was passed in moving 5 tons of books out of the house to the stacks at Brown University. It was a traumatic experience, believe me, with architects clambering about measuring bulges, and carpenters boring holes in the walls from cellar to garret, while Mama tearfully or cheerfully went about designating the books she consulted the least, and movers packed cartons it might well have been termed the Second Battle of the Bulge.

I read the Week Four column and thought, oh, poor baby:

Ever since then, I have been skittish about the size of our book collection, which peaked at about 600 when we moved into our house in the District seven years ago.

So after going through the books in the attic, our intrepid columnist and her husband wound up donating 25 hardcover and 42 paperback books to their local branch library. 10% of the collection? No big wow there.

The hints from the professional organizer the columnist has on tap?

First, check the condition of the book. "Are the pages so brittle and yellow that you're never going to read them?" If so, she says, donate. And second, "be realistic about the format you like to read them in." Most people never re-read paperbacks they've kept for a while, especially the smaller ones, she says.

Would she faint if she saw what I need to get a handle on?

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