Author, Teacher, Psychologist and Speaker


Posted by on Jul 2, 2012 in Blog, Monday Musing | 10 comments

“Books are the quietest and most constant of friends; they are the most accessible and wisest of counselors, and the most patient of teachers.”

Charles W. Eliot


My love affair with books began many years ago. Probably when I was about this age:

My mother often told me how I would raid the bookshelves in my father’s den, choosing books from flowers to medicine to mystery and carry them around babbling as if I was reading every word. I often used crayons to add my own illustrations. And from the moment I could read, she would take me to the library where I would emerge with stacks of books. I never lost that book stacking idea!

Oh the comfort, the inexpressible comfort of picking up a book, settling into a cozy chair, or under a tree, and traveling to faraway places, discovering new people and lands, experiencing high adventure, or learning some new language.


A recent event precipitated the purchase of new carpeting for the den.  Before the day of installation, our job was to “move the small things” out of the way!  Although the two large bookcases do not fall into the “teeny” category, we had to box up the books and temporarily move them to another location. This of course led to the age old question: do we really need all of these books?

I am tired just thinking about it!

The quick answer was no, of course not. After all, we had just spent hours boxing them up and hauling them into another room. Their daunting heaviness gave pause. And yet, when it was time to move them back in, pick each one up, and carefully consider its value, it was as complicated as the plot in Hamlet.

After all, in this household we are educators and authors.

And there are bookcases in every room of the house, save the bathrooms. Books stacked on table tops, desktops, floors.

So, we sat down with each one, weighed the criteria and considered its fate.

Some books had to stay because they were old classics.

Some had to stay because they were new.

Some because they were meaningful. Some were just plain sentimental. Some were too significant to be tossed aside. Some evoked a special memory.

Some had been autographed by a favorite author.

Some had been gifts from mom or dad or other important people.

We began to question our decision. After all, can one really have too many friends? But we looked around at the stacks of boxes and the sea of opened books and carried on.

Admittedly, because I have a Kindle and an iPad and read primarily on those, I buy fewer books now. I often wonder what I had been thinking buying so many books. I have traveled cross country – east to west, north to south, with boxes and boxes of them. Leaving behind furniture – but never my friends! Yes, I am a book hoarder! So parting is, as they say, such sweet sorrow!

And so, it turns out that book friends should be shared with other friends!

I have been collecting books for decades. So this purging is just a beginning. Just remember, you do not have to do it all overnight. One page at a time!

To help you decide what to do with your old friends, er, books:

Breaking The Sentimental Attachment to Books

Here are some resources to assist you in the painful separation:

How to Get Rid of Old Books

How to Get Rid of Books

How To Get Rid of Old Books Online

Where to Donate Used Books – 10 Places to Start

11 Neat Ways to Donate, Sell Or Give Away Used Books

Donate Books to Charity – Free Nationwide Book Donation Pick Up

Getting Rid of Old Books the Green Way

New Ways to Do It Make Giving Away Books a Bit Less Painful


Join the conversation and post a comment.

  1. Karen Tomas

    Ann, I love this post! I adore books. I was just looking at my shelves yesterday thinking,”Do I really need ALL these books?” They are soooo hard to part with. I especially love the pic of the page hugging the girl!!! Thanks for writing this!!!

    • Ann Eisenstein

      Karen, me, too! Especially those books that mean the most to me. Just like the friends (like you) that become more valuable through time – those I keep close by! And that picture was quite the find! Thanks for visiting and commenting on the piece! 😉

  2. Debra Koontz Traverso

    Oh my! This is a VERY timely posting for me….I’m always kvetching over how to part with books, but particularly this week. I’ve made one trip to a local church and two trips to Goodwill to donate books. Like you, I download a lot of books now, but I often wonder: “What if technology fails us?” Then I’ll regret having parted with so many books! I guess, in some things, there’s just no winning!

    • Ann Eisenstein

      I kvetch over parting with books, music, letters, pictures – just to name a few things! Parting is such – well no, it isn’t really sweet now, is it? But, when I thought about giving some books away so that others might enjoy them, too -it became more palatable! The thought of technology failing is a bit of a panic button – but then there is always the library! (I hope they stay in business!) 😉

  3. Claire

    Ann –

    I still grieve over the books I sold/gave away to friends and libraries before we moved here to South Carolina, except for some classics. Books truly are ‘friends’ – as you say – and missed more because they are not at hand, but they still warm our hearts for having been there.

    I, too, love the pic of the book hugging the woman – funny how – though many of us use a Kindle or some other electronic reading devices – you can never beat the ‘feel’ of a book in one’s hands. I guess that’s because ‘touching’ is one of our strongest, earliest instincts, that gives much comfort.

    Thanks for writing this – I’m guessing it’s a universal task, and the pics are great.

    • Ann Eisenstein

      Claire, I know how you feel. There are many things I have given away, lost and/or sold that I wish I had back! Mostly the things that were not valuable to me years ago that would be now! (My baseball cards, comic books, old dishes and furniture! And yes, books!) But my heart has so many warm memories. Unlike those other things – books bring so much comfort and companionship! And you are so right – the feel of a Kindle or an iPad just isn’t the same. Although carrying a hundred books in them is so much easier on the back! Thanks for visiting and commenting on this piece! 😉

  4. Susan

    Ann, what a well-written, enjoyable piece! You really captured the concept of books as friends – some so significant that you can’t imagine life without them. I add Hiding Carly as one of my favorites as well! 🙂 Nicely done! And yes, the pictures add so much! Thanks.

    • Ann Eisenstein

      Susan, thanks for being such a faithful friend and follower of my blog! And for adding Hiding Carly to the list of those books you will keep! Also, thanks for sitting on the floor and sifting through the stacks with me! 😉

  5. Linda Andersen

    Great post Ann! Very well laid out and you expressed it all so well.

    My husband is an electrician in the school system. He says all elementary school teachers have too much stuff. Guess what, I’m a retired elementary teacher and school counselor. I know I’m one of those “pack rats” as he calls them. I have a hard time parting with books too. I imagine many people do.

    • Ann Eisenstein

      Linda, I think your husband is right! And it’s not just elementary teachers. I taught middle school – and I STILL have stuff from those years! And when I became a school psychologist, guess what? I gathered even more stuff! Books, information, manuals, etc. And now as an author – there are more kinds of books crowding my shelves! Not to mention all of the books that are just for fun and other things! I am a “pack rat” for certain! But it’s not so bad – we could have some other character flaw that could be worse. LOL

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