84 Books

Every year, before pulling out the Christmas decorations, I clean. That’s not the only time I clean, of course. But it is pretty much the only time when I really give the bookshelves a good cleaning.

I don’t know why I do this. Maybe I am concerned that Santa is checking his list for people who don’t dust their bookshelves. And, every year, I like this job less and less. It just seems way more complicated than it has to be. Not to mention I always have an allergy attack afterwards.

Why are the books so dusty? Because we never read them, duh! We all have e-readers by now. Mine has almost 300 books on it, and I enjoyed each and every one of them. More so because they didn’t sit around collecting dust afterwards.

Some people “like the feeling” of a book in their hands. I am not one of them. Words are words to me: it doesn’t matter whether they are on paper or on a screen. Big book reader here, book-holder not so much. Book hoarder, definitely not.

We also have a collection of DVDs that we have not watched since we got to post, and a DVD player that just sits there. We watch everything on the cute little Roku now, or just plug a laptop into the TV if we can’t get something on a Roku channel. It’s called the Internet, people. Best (and least dusty) space-saving invention ever.

The DVD player is part of a rather expensive stereo sound system for the TV that we never use because there are just too many remotes to deal with. A couple of the speakers came loose months ago, and not even my husband has bothered to connect them up again.

And then there are the board games. I’ve whittled those down a lot, but with the possible exception of Scrabble, I can’t think of a single time that we’ve played them since we moved here.

Does anyone still play Risk?

So, why is my living room full of stuff that we don’t use and just collects dust? That yours truly will have to pack and unpack the next time we move? Yes, it will be me. My husband is a great unpacker if your first priority is, say, having a perfectly alphabetized CD collection. I learned a long time ago that unless I want to look at boxes for six months, I need to just get in there and get it done. I know that this is a choice on my part: I could always leave more stuff for him to do. But I am a person who needs to feel settled (and likes to have a usable kitchen) so there you go. It is what it is, and therefore, every move totally exhausts me.

The last couple of moves kind of put me over the edge. Packing out of DC is always hell, but the seven years’ worth of junk we had accumulated there didn’t help. I freecycled and donated like a maniac before the movers came, but there were still many head-scratching moments when we unpacked the boxes here in Vienna. We packed our 110V cordless home phone system? Really?

Then we moved from one apartment to another after our first year here. Don’t get me wrong, it was totally worth it, but the new apartment is not large, and has NO closets. Not one. So, two more carloads went to Caritas right away, and more gets dropped off every few weeks. It feels good every single time because I know that is stuff I won’t have to deal with on either end the next time we move.

While cleaning this morning, I cut our already minimal living-room book collection in half. I had already unloaded about half my craft books (I get most patterns and tutorials online now) and about the same number of cookbooks (ditto).

100 pounds of stuff that the taxpayer will not be paying to ship again.

Foreign language dictionaries and phrase books? There are apps for that.

Gift books in various languages that my husband received at previous posts that have never been opened? Bye-bye.

Fiction that we have already read? Let someone else enjoy it.

And now we have 84 not-dusty books. The end.

OK, Santa, you can come to our house now.


  1. Kudos! I did the same thing before our last move, and yet we still have boxes of books destined for the Goodwill. How does this happen?


  2. Good for you! Wish I could make those decisions about books, etc., but I cling to my “stuff”! Guess I prefer the familiarity of having it around to letting go. If I were moving, I’m sure it would be a different story!–Nanny


  3. It is amazing the motivation that no closets and space absorbing dust collectors can have on whittling down personal belongings. Our book cases and closets have been repeatedly downsized. Still more to go, but sooooo much lighter than before our tiny apartment. I like the idea of a pre-Christmas purge. Less dusting and less future unpacking (I get to do it in my house for all the same reasons) is a sure way to get in the holiday mood by moving unused items on to those who would consider it a find or a blessing. Good on you!


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