Friday, November 13, 2009

Keeper books vs Keeping books - there is a difference

I was thinking up my next review - I sometimes start thinking of what to write before I've finished the book and it got me to thinking about keepers versus keeping. I'll come right out and say it. I'm a pack rat. I've watched that show on TLC about people who have professionals come and shovel out their homes things have gotten so bad and I worry that I could become them. I got into quite a bit of trouble at work recently due to my pack rat tendencies and I've managed to make drastic changes, but the skill set I've gained at work, sadly, hasn't transferred to my off work life yet. All of this is really irrelevant, but I have a glass of wine in front of my and I'm in a rambling mood and it helps to 'set the stage' for the topic.

When thinking of how to describe the book I'm reading, I asked myself if it was a keeper. Then I had to turn and look at myself - rather difficult to do with only one body and answer "Are you nuts??? You keep just about every book you buy!!!"
And I do!! They are having a book sale at work next week and I rounded up a bunch to take in, put them in a bag, but then couldn't seem to take them out of the house. I've done this with books destined for the Used Book Store on occasion too. I'll have a bag full and just as I'm about to open the car door and go into the book store, I'll look through what I have and end up taking about half of them out of the bag. So I was trying to figure out what makes a book a keeping book and came up with a few answers.

  • Since I joined the online romance community, I don't seem to buy nearly as many 'bad' books as I used to. It's so easy to find reviews on either review sites or blogs and I know enough as to what I will probably enjoy and what won't work for me. I still make quite a few impulse buys and I think I have had above average luck in enjoying them.

  • I hate breaking up series. The recent The Legend of the Four Soldiers series by Elizabeth Hoyt is a good example. I quite enjoyed the first two, To Taste Temptation and To Seduce a Sinner. Then I read To Beguile a Beast and didn't care for it at all. I just recently finished To Desire a Devil - and again I quite enjoyed this final book of the series. Now normally the third book would be in my trade-in bag, but that would 'break the series' and I can't do that.

  • The 'it's not you, it's me' books. Often I start a book and there's nothing basically wrong with it and given a different mood, I could read it and really enjoy it. If I don't find anything wrong with the book; if the characters don't drive me bonkers, but I'm just not that into it, I'll hold onto it for another day.

  • Gorgeous cover books. This is the shallow in me speaking. I've been known to buy a book based almost 100% on the gorgeous cover and then discovered the inside didn't nearly match the outside. But since it was the outside that tempted me, I have a hard time getting rid of it.

  • The declining enjoyment. This is very similar to the breaking of series. An good example of this the Sons of Destiny by Jean Johnson. I LOVED the first three books of the series and have problem recommending them, but starting with The Song, I felt a declining enjoyment. As the island began filling with people and the heroines started becoming either annoying or bland, I wasn't 'feeling' them like the few few. But again, I didn't want to ruin the series. I've still yet to get the final book and I'm not sure if I will or not, but I don't want to get rid of the ones I didn't enjoy as much.

  • The higher cost of trade size. I've been buying more and more trade sized books. I don't like that I pay more, though it's not so bad if I buy them online. I save 24% or more. But I see great reviews and since I don't know if they will come out in MM size and I get impatient, I get them trade size. And I figure I won't recoup the cost if I trade them in. Besides, since for the most part, with the exception of books, I'm pretty cheap, I don't get a trade size unless I'm pretty sure I will enjoy it so I don't have that many to trade in anyway.

  • The ARC books. I don't have that many. I haven't worried about the recent hullabaloo over getting free ARC books and having to "declare" it because a) I live in Canada and not sure if the recent ruling applies to me and b) I don't get enough to worry anyway. I mainly just get copies from one publisher. But they have sent me a number that just don't appeal to me. I don't do funny vampire stories and I seem to get a number of them. But for some reason I can't explain, it just seems wrong to trade them in or get rid of them.

  • Author signed books. I've gotten a number of them over the past three years at the conferences I've gone to. And I'll confess, some I haven't been able to get into at all. I can't think of any off the top of my head and probably wouldn't name them anyway. But I don't know what to do with them. If I've spoken to an author at a signing and she has taken the time to talk back to me and personally autograph a book, it seems somehow unkind to just dump it in the 'take to the UBS' bag. So I just store them in a box until I get a backbone and decide what to do with them.

So those are some of the reasons why I have so many books that I could get rid of but don't and why I don't have as many as I used to to get rid of. The idea a while ago was to not keep any book I rate as 3 or below but that doesn't always work for the above reasons.

If you are into keeping books - what decides whether you are keeping it or trading in? Do you keep books that aren't keepers in the truest sense? How do you decide whether to keep or get rid of - do you have a certain line that decides it? Are you one of those who gets rid of every book except for the cream of the crop and if you are, do you feel like you are losing out on the amount you have put into buying books?

I'm curious as to whether a lot of readers are like me and keep non keepers or if there are more who purge a lot more than I do!


novelnelle said...

OMG Kristie - I feel so much less alone now. I keep books that aren't necessarily keepers for all the same reasons you do. The only time I remove books from my house is when I really really really want to do a big book shop and I don't have the finances to do it. When that happens I go through my shelves right before I leave pull out any books that were a 5/10 or less or that I started and just couldn't finish and then I put them in my bag and leave right away for the UBS so I don't think about it too much about it. This has come back to bite me a few times when I've decided to re-try a book that didn't work for me the first time and found out I didn't have it anymore. I try to only take books that really really irritated me but sometimes I forget :)

I do love keeping as many of my books as I can. Nothing looks more cozy to me than full bookshelves.

Wendy said...

My problem is that I horde books I have yet to read. But since that's not what you're asking....

I'm ruthless. I'd say it's the librarian in me, but I know MANY a librarian who is terrible at weeding. I only keep keepers. Everything else goes out the door. In the 10 years I've been "seriously" reading romance? I've only gotten rid of two books I later regretted - and in both instances I just went out and found other copies.

I also don't think of autographed copies as "more special" - so yep, I'll get rid of those too. I will keep autographed copies of series I collect (only have a handful of these) and I'll also keep autographed copies where the author really personalized it for me. I have a Deb Marlowe HH like that and I got a Patricia Potter romantic suspense at RWA one year where her inscription actually made me tear up a bit. Those I'll keep, even if I'm not wild about either story.

I can totally understand your issue with breaking up series. If more than one book in a series is a "keeper" I tend to keep the whole run of the series unless one is a total stinker. Then I have no issues with breaking up the series. At all.

For ARCs - I throw them away. If it's a keeper, I'll keep the ARC then go out and buy a "real" copy - therefore giving me two copies for my keeper collection.

Great topic Kristie!

Magdalen said...

I have a few books that are double-keepers, where I own two copies Just In Case. But I've finally reached an age where I can acknowledge I simply won't reread a "so-so" book even if it's by a favorite author. I gave away 100 books earlier this year, and didn't worry a bit about it. If anything, I relished the blank shelving, ready for new books.

[Please don't ask me about putting away those new books. Please don't. I didn't say I was tidy...]

Kerry said...

I keep just about anything I buy. Every so often I'll cull the shelves, but mostly I keep books.

However, I have a section of my books shelves that I consider my "keeper" section. That's where my favourite books and series live and those don't get culled.

These days, I mostly only buy books that I'm already fairly certain will be keepers in paper editions anyway. Anything I'm less sure about I either buy as an ebook or get from the library, so my physical library grows a lot more slowly now than it did in the past.

Anna said...

In 2006 when I come to use such a thing as a TBR List I was keeping every book I read. I ran out of room fast. At that point I knew there were some books that I really didn't need to keep.

For me there are really two factors in what makes it on to my keeper shelves. The first one, there are a few authors that automatically make it my shelf, just because I love that particular author or the series. The second is... when I finish a book if it's something I just liked and not loved I'll ask myself "Will I ever read this again". If the answer is no I give to someone or add it on to Paperback Swap.

Sadly I don't have enough room to keep every book. I doesn't bother me about losing on the amount, especially if I know the book has found a good home.

That end bit sounds a bit sappy, but it's the truth. LOL!

Katie Mack said...

I am ruthless about not keeping stuff -- in every area of my life except my book collection. That said, I don't keep books that I don't reasonably think I'll re-read someday.

Before I discovered the online romance world, I did a lot more weeding. Once I discovered reliable review sources I've had far more success in finding books I like, so I'm getting rid of far less. And I generally go to the library for new-to-me authors or books I'm on the fence about, so again, that's keeping the stock level down.

Mostly the books I get rid of are series/categories that I took a chance on but were so-so, or ARCs -- which I get quite a few of. (I throw galleys away, and I donate ARCs.)

Really my problem is more along the line of Wendy's -- I've amassed a TBR pile of monstrous proportions and am adding to it every week. That's by far the bigger issue for me.

nath said...

I'm in the "keep everything I buy" category. Unless I really didn't enjoy it, like hate it, then I'll get rid of those quite quickly.

I did purge my books a couple of months ago, but then, they're still sitting in a box in my room. I don't know what to do with them! I actually don't have any problem giving them to people i know will enjoy them... but donate them? UBS? I mean, the problem with UBS is you don't get much back. I'm not even sure i get 25% here in Montreal. So yeah... blah.

jmc said...

Like Wendy and katie mack, I have a huge TBR, and feel like I can't prune it. But I've recently begun rethinking my other books. For instance, I have all of the JD Robb books, even though I don't LOVE all of them. But it's a series, so I can't get rid of any of them, can I? But as I make a serious effort to prune, I'm not sure why I kept some of these books.

Good Will and my local library are about to get a couple of paper boxes full of books.

Lynn Spencer said...

I think my problem is more the huge TBR than the stack of books already read. I have been known to take my sweet time about it, but I do weed through books pretty ruthlessly. My one downfall comes with series. I'm like you in that I just can't break up a series.

Now if I could stop being packratty in other areas of my life...

Kristie (J) said...

Anna: LOL - it doesn't sound sappy at all! I'm the one who doesn't want to get rid of signed books that I haven't enjoyed 'cause I don't want to hurt the authors feelings - as if she will ever know :-) So I can understand the comfort of knowing your books went to a good home. Unfortunately we don't have Paperback Swap here so if I take them to a UBS, they could languish - unloved and unwanted.

Kerry: That's one of the really great things about discovering review sites and blogs. I've cut down considerably on books I don't like because I can often tell by the review if a book will work or not. It's not nearly as often anymore I get a real bad one.

Magdalen: 100!! At one time!!! Wowzers - you must have been ruthless. And I can admit I won't read a so so book, but it's the actual getting rid of it that I have issues with *g*.
And OK *laughing* I won't ask you about the putting away of the books. I'm one who still has two almost empty book cases in the *library overflow* and boxes of books upstairs in the bedroom.

Wendy: I always get a kick out of the fact that you are probably the queen of the TBR pile, but when you actually read the book, you ditch it. I'm curious as to how many keepers you have as I know you're a tough critic.

Novelnelle: I think there are a number of the same 'quirks' many of us have and it's always so comforting isn't it to know that we aren't alone in our oddness.

Kristie (J) said...

Lynn: At the rate I'm buying combined with the slower rate I'm reading at, I'm getting a bit worried that the time will come when the TBR pile will be almost half the read pile. And since it's taken YEARS to read and collect the number of books I have, I will be lost.

JMC: Of COURSE you must keep the In Death books series intact!! To do otherwise would be WRONG. There are some that I thought were only OK - very few of course - but some. But I wouldn't get rid of any of them. The biggest problem with the In Death books on my shelf is when she went hardcover, they don't match in size anymore.
I really should get serious and go through my books and get rid of them - but it's so haaarrrddd!

Nath: ROTFL!! I'm not sure you can really call it a purge if they are still in boxes on your floor. I think it's more like boxing. To purge you have to have them outSIDE of the house.

KatieMack: If I could just get down to having an overabundance of books, it wouldn't be too bad. But I haven an overabundance of everything!! Cans of tuna fish, laundry baskets, shopping bags, candles, rolls of toilet paper, halloween candy - whatever I have, I seem to have too much of.

ReneeW said...

Like Wendy I'm pretty ruthless.. I only keep keepers (mainly). But I hate to break up series (like you) so I will keep the whole thing (Hoyt's Soldier series, JR Ward, etc.) I just don't have a lot of room. OK, I admit, occasionally I will keep books just because I love the cover, but that doesn't happen often. Sometimes it takes me awhile to decide if a book is a keeper so I do hang on to them for a time. I usually keep books with a grade of A, A- or B+, and sometimes a B book will have a scene or two that demands that I reread it sometime so I keep that too.

I'm also pretty ruthless with my TBR now. At one time it was over 300 but now I have culled some and read lots so it's only around 70.

I have lived to regret getting rid of some early Mary Balogh which are worth a fortune now, and a few others as well but I have been able to find most of them (except the Mary Baloghs). Sometimes it's a relief to get rid of books that I detested, but I'm pretty careful about what I buy so that doesn't happen too often. I have a feeling that if I had the shelves you do, Kristie, I would be keeping alot more books.

Wendy said...

Kristie: I need to catalog my keepers. Maybe using GoodReads or Shelfari since I use LibraryThing for the TBR Mountain. I've never counted my keepers, so can't tell you what the exact number is - but it is small. Somewhere in the ballpark of 30-50 - maybe?

Anna said...


Well if you are looking to get rid of some books there is

Similar to paperback swap, but open to just more countries then just U.S. resident. :)

Cheryl St.John said...

I used to do exactly as you do and keep them all, but eventually it came down to a matter of space. I confess I may have a few more years of packratting under my belt, and after all that time something's gotta go.

When we moved about 5 years ago, I downsized my office as well as my living room bookshelves. I mailed 8 big boxes of books to a used bookstore I love in Independence, MO. And I dropped off more at the veterans and a local UBS. Now it's much easier to not keep as many books.

If I can't finish a book, it's outta here. If I like it all right, but it's not a favorite author and I most likely won't read it again, it's outta here.

Like Wendy said about too many tbr books - when we moved I had to get rid of so many books I hadn't yet read that I am now more selective about the books I buy. And like you, Kristie, I think I buy less stinkers because of the availability of reviews.

Great post!

Leontine said...

This is very recognizable Kristie ;) I have various long-term series that have lost my interest and that I've stopped buying but do I get rid of it; no. Signed books are staying on my shelves too since they are so rare on my shelves. My true keepers are those I can reread a million times without becoming boring. They actualy are "just" 5 shelves from my entire bookcases. My statement to all my books is; If I haven't read you, you are not leaving. That makes them a different kind of keeper since that involves the much debated TBR pile. But if I do get to read a book that is so-so it goes to the pile of giveaways to friends/sister/or online. Over the last year that has been a staggering 10 books or so LOL

I think when it comes down to is that I am a pack rat too...I already have a date with my father for my second floor to ceiling bookcases like the one's in the livingroom. To keep the books in a orderly fashion. I'm afraid I am a prayer without an end ;D

farmwifetwo said...

I can't afford my book habit so a lot of mine come from the library and the one's I buy tend to be keepers. Except for the hqn's or hand-me-downs, then it's debatable.

I started tossing a few years ago. It was HARD. But I decided that if I wasn't going to re-read it, out it went. So, I mostly have series' - I too can't break them up - my ONE ARC... and it's IMO not a re-read but it's an ARC... I tossed my signed Cathy Mann's/Suzanne Brockmann's to my neice.

Once you get into the habit it isn't so hard. If I definately don't plan to re-read it goes in the "to Mom" pile. If it's iffy, it goes on the shelf and as I run out of room, I get rid of the iffy's I haven't re-read.

Hilcia said...

Great post, KristieJ. I'm pretty ruthless and purge my books. I only keep my "keepers" at this point to make room for more. I do keep books that have been personalized to me, but these are usually books I love anyway. :)

Some of them I get rid of immediately & some I keep for a while & then let them go. If I love a series & there's a stinker, I keep the series together. And, no, I don't feel I'm loosing out on the $ spent as long as I read them & someone who appreciates the books is enjoying them too. :)
I keep books that I LOVE & would re-read (and often do).

Note: I have an eReader now, so those books I keep (at least for now).

Anonymous said...

Well, I am one who keeps a lot of books, and many of those are not "keepers" in the true sense of the word, but rather books that have keeper parts, if that makes sense. They are books that I will pick up again, not to read in their entirety, but rather to flip to flagged pages for the < sigh > and warm fuzzy effect and to simply savor the magic of those moments that I feel the author has captured so well with her words. I am not one to re-read books, even those that I have loved (perhaps I am afraid the magic will no longer be there on a second read), but there are always certain scenes that keep drawing back again and again.

Tara Marie said...

I'm either extreme. I keep books for long periods of time, and then go on purge binges. Purge binges can be dangerous, sometimes you get rid of something you really should have kept. I've been known to trade in a book at the UBS and then go back and buy it a year later when I'm looking to reread.

Anonymous said...

I'm like you... I just can't seem to get rid of any of my books and I have an excuse for any of those that aren't really keeper books. No matter how awful a read might be, I just can't get rid of it *sigh* I seem to worry that one day I'll want to reread a book, or I'll actually finish the read and get to the good part. Some books take me back to when I first read/bought them. I have the first Harlequin Romance I bought and I can remember how embarassed I felt at 14yrs old buying a romance novel, lol. I kept looking around to make sure I wouldn't get caught. Lately, I've been trying to get rid of some of my non-romance fiction... but even that can be hard, hehe

SusiSunshine said...

I can't leave my books behind. I just can't get rid of them and with can't I'm mean I'm not physically able to do it. I love them, they are my books. Even the bad ones. Ok these I have in a cartoon under my desk but shelf space is precious and I have to draw a line somewhere. LOL I don't keep a book when I already have it but that's the only exception. Ok it still sounds crazy but that's the way it is.
Loved your post!

Rosie said...

I've gotten way better at parting with books than I used to be which isn't to say I still don't "keep" books that aren't keepers. I keep books on the basis of would I re-read this? I may have shared my theory of being retired and unable to buy books like I do now and I want to have plenty on the shelves to choose from.

Even so about once a year I have to go through my shelves and do an additional weeding and say, it's gotta go just because of the room issue.

Marianne McA said...

Would you kill me if I admitted that when I stopped reading J.D.Robb, I just kept 'Naked' and 'Conspiracy' and ditched the rest? Incomplete series alert!

I purge - I just took 3 bags down to the church last Sunday for their fair. More than that, I really love purging - almost as much as reorganising the shelves - it's Play With Books! time.

I don't do it very often, and after the tragic episode in my teens where I sold all my Heyers, I'm careful about my choices. Usually I'd hold on to books for about a year after I'm sure I'm not going to read them again - just in case. (Not the passing through books - they pass through. But I loved Evanovich back in the day, so I held on to Stephanie Plum for a while after I gave it up, just in case I'd misjudged myself.)

Kris said...

I can totally relate as well. I keep books for a lot of hte same reasons. I cannot split up a series, i may stop collecting it but cannot split it up. I do purge occasionally but it is so hard, I mainly do it so i can keep credit at my ubs to furhter feed my habit.

Hey, I have the last Sons of Destiny book and do not have the rest of hte series so am willing to part with it, do you want it? email me if you do, froggykm st gmail

SarahT said...

I'm a reluctant keeper of books. I live in a small town in Switzerland. There's no UBS which wants as many English books as I need to get rid of, and I haven't managed to shift that many on eBay. I can't bring myself to throw out books but it's getting to the stage that I might need to consider it.

In an ideal world, I'd probably have around 100 keepers on my shelves, plus my formidable TBR collection.

Kristie (J) said...

Sarah - that must be frustrating!! Having books that you want to trade in and no place to take them!! There are about 3 or 4 UBS's I can take mine too - if I wasn't such a book hoarder that is.

Kris: there was a time when I traded in a lot more than I do now - cause I was looking for back lists and things. But being a LONG TIME romance reader now, I have all the back lists and when I do got to a UBS and see a book I'd like - I already have it! But for readers who are fairly new to the genre and still discovering authors, UBS's are a GOLD MINE!!
And I may just take you up on that offer. Thanks!!

Marianne: *GASP* You purged JD Robb???? I've heard of that - in fact, when I first started reading them and was already a number behind, I picked some copies up at a UBS, which meant that someone had to have turned them in. But just think - now I actually know someone who did *shaking head in disbelief*. My Robb books are the VERY last books I'd get rid of if someone held a gun to my head and threatened my life if I didn't purge my books.
And years ago I got rid of many of my Heyer books - only to buy them again later. Though I think I can say with full confidence I don't think I'll ever reach the point where I will love purging books *g*.

Rosie: When I do get rid of books, which I don't anymore - but if I were to, that's what I do. I ask the book - "will I read you again or would it be better if I send you to a new home where you WILL get read." If they tell me they would rather go to another home, albeit reluctantly, then I take them so they can find a new home.

SusiSunshine: You are my kind of peep!! Since I now have a library which takes up a room and a half in the basement, and two half filled bookcases and another one that's been in the trunk of my car for months now, I can't get rid of them anymore either!!

Ali: Yes!!! Another 'can't get rid of my books' reader. My son threatens me that when I 'kick it' he's going to have a huge bonfire and burn all my books. I tell him if he does that I will haunt him - unrelentingly - for the rest of his life.

Tara Marie: *laughing* I've done that too - traded a book and then had second thoughts and got another copy later. In fact, I've even bought back books I just thought I'd traded in - only to discover I hadn't traded it after all. Or before I built the library bought other copies just because I couldn't find the first copies, only to find them once the library went up.

Anonymous: I have a lot of books like that too - ones where I don't reread the whole book again, but only the good parts. So I can't get rid of it even if the rest of the books isn't that great, because the parts that are good - are GREAT! One Summer is my best example of that kind of book.

Hilcia: *big grin* I've heard there are readers like you - readers who only keep keepers. Wendy is one - but since she has over 900 in her TBR pile - she still has a huge collection of books. Part of me envies you tremendously for being able to do that and part of my just doesn't understand *chuckle*

Kristie (J) said...

Farmwifetwo: I still remember when I came back to romance!! I got my book at the library. But then came the horror of having to GIVE IT BACK!! It was Cherished Enemy by Patricia Veryan and seriously - I almost cried at having to return it, I loved it that much!! So I simply HAD to find my own copy that I could keep forever. And I did find a copy!! As this was an older OOP book, it wasn't in any of the stores and I was devastated. I actually considered STEALING it from the library. Then I still recall the absolute thrill when I found it at a flea market. I just stood still with it in my hand - quivering - for about five minutes. I tried explaining to Ron why I couldn't move and being a reader, he sort of but not really got it. With a few other like experiences of library rental, I realized that I was the kind of person who became too emotionally (and almost unnaturally) attached to books to use the library.

Leontine: "My statement to all my books is; If I haven't read you, you are not leaving."
I've had a similar conversation with my books too!!!
Us pack rat book keepers can come up with lots of justifications can't we? Just as many reasons to keep them as buying them in the first place *g*.

Cheryl: Fortunately - or unfortunately - I'm not sure which *g* I have unlimited space now. I library in the basement, huge bookcases in the living room and two extra bedrooms. So unlike many readers who purge due to lack of space, that isn't an issue for me. And that just feeds into my need to collect, collect, collect.

Anna: Hmmmm - I will have to give this site some thought! I looked it over briefly. I don't know how romance books fit into it. While me look was brief, none seemed to be of the romance genre. But if there is one - I will consider using it!!

Wendy - I'd love to see your 'keeper' list sometime - just to see how we match up, though mine is much larger *g*. I'm an easy critic *g*.

Renee: I think my level point is C+ and above. But I really enjoy so many books, those below that level are few and far between. And if they are part of a series - well, that excludes them from the purge pile. And honestly - I can probably count the ones that have been below a C or books that I started and KNOW I'll never get back to on my fingers and toes - which is about 20 since I have all my fingers and toes.

orannia said...

Fascinating post Kristie. I borrow most of my books, so I don't hoarde...mostly. I say mostly because I still have the books from my childhood. One day, when I have my library built, I will sort my books...then I'll see how easy it is to give those books away :)

Kristie (J) said...

Orannia: We will get you yet my pretty!
Yep - the day is coming when you too will have to face this dilemma - of to purge - or to keep - and what is the keeping line
*evil witch cackle*

Kwana said...

I love this post esp the It's not you it's me books. I have those too. I need to learn to let them go. I keep way too many books. I find lending them out is a sure fire way to get over this. You never get them back.