Friday, December 5


The built in dictionary in my computer tells me that "to cull" means to "select from a large quantity" or even more telling, "to reduce the population of (x) by selective slaughter." The x in the definition was wild animals, but in my case, my goal is to reclaim shelf space.

I have "panic piles": At home, there are three stacks beside the desk divided into fiction, theory/CL references, screenplays. There's one reserved for what I'm currently working on, like the stack of crime fiction I had amassed while taking up a writing class that required me to come up with a story with crime in it. In the end, I don't think I read a lot from the panic file. But it did manage to calm me down a bit to know that in case I get blocked, there's something I can refer to or take inspiration from.

I suspect it's the panic pile that made my shelves burst with all sorts of books. My desk at the office now holds two piles: one for the fiction classes, another for the comics, and not much real estate left for actual writing. The situation at home isn't any different. I already had one culling session at home, wherein I put all the books I had in my room in the middle of the floor, and began piling them into keep/throw, with special mounds for fiction, nonfiction, plays/drama/screenplay, poetry. The tallest pile was fiction, the mere molehill, poetry.

Laura Miller in her essay says that the books we keep say a lot about ourselves and our state of mind: "There are two general schools of thought on which books to keep, as I learned once I began swapping stories with friends and acquaintances. The first views the bookshelf as a self-portrait, a reflection of the owner’s intellect, imagination, taste and accomplishments.For others, especially those with literary careers, a personal library can be “emotional and totemic,” in the words of the agent Ira Silverberg. Books become stand-ins for friends and clients."

I suppose my panic and to keep piles attest to that. But Miller has more: "The other approach views a book collection less as a testimony to the past than as a repository for the future; it’s where you put the books you intend to read." I'm not going to claim that I've read each book I own. There are books I buy because I intend to read them. It is wishful thinking. I have a copy of the The Complete Stories and Fables of Kafka that I've had since college and I never read it fully. Or sometimes I love a book so much that I buy a copy when I find it in book bins. Only to find out later that I just bought my third copy of Sylvia Plath's novel. I eventually gave away all my copies of The Bell Jar, I think.

Right now, my goal is to get rid of previous panic piles which have no use for me anymore. While I liked The Truman Show (film and script), there's no reason to hold on to the script book, especially since it can be accessed on the net anyway. And the many many potboilers I picked up and never got around to finishing? Maybe I'll hold on to it a bit more.

Anyone want to put together a used books sale?

I suppose my panic and to keep piles att

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