Keeping Kerouac, fighting Freudenberger, and other tales from book organizing

Whenever I host Rock & Roll Bookclub I see it as an opportunity to get my books in order. In theory, for every book I put in the case I would take one off to give away or list on Bookmooch. That theory is total bullshit. I am greedy.

However, I am pleased to report that I have a small laundry basket filled with books to give away. I have axed Nick Hornby and Richard Ford from the collection (the former for sucking and the latter for not beguiling me to ever pick it up and read it since I got it 1996). I feel a little odd for dismissing two of Hornby’s novels when I kept High Fidelity. It feels wrong somehow. Jonathan Lethem has not suffered the same fate though he should, because that last book sucked.

And then there’s Jack Kerouac. On the Road is the most overrated piece of bullshit literary critics have foisted on the reading public. And yet, I cannot seem to purge it from my collection. I have no idea why, but even the thought of getting rid of it seemed wrong.

Getting rid of Nell Freudenberger’s short story collection Lucky Girls also seems wrong. I cannot explain this one either. I did not enjoy the collection. In fact, I disliked it so much that when one of her stories is assigned in a writing class I skip it because I know I didn’t like it and why waste my time? And yet, there she is on the shelf between Gina Frangello and Joshua Furst.

Someone ought to come up with some hard fast rules when it comes to keeping or purging books.

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  1. Bill Roehl 28.Nov.08 at 6:58 pm

    I tried to enjoy On The Road and no matter how many times I have read through it, I just can’t understand the accolades. I have a bunch of books I’d like to purge but much like you have said, it would just feel wrong if I did 🙁

  2. Jodi 28.Nov.08 at 7:11 pm

    We should probably form some sort of support group. There must be a reason we feel it’s wrong.

    I can’t get rid of The Bell Jar either and I hate that one too.

  3. UH 28.Nov.08 at 8:19 pm

    You’re keeping On The Road because it’s something that serious writers are supposed to have. It’s the same reason every music critic owns a copy of Pet Sounds but never listens to it.

  4. Peabo 28.Nov.08 at 8:39 pm

    Since you held my hand through this process last week, I have no doubt that you did a fantastic job. And I think you can chuck Kerouac.

  5. Kristy 28.Nov.08 at 10:24 pm

    I can’t purge anything….it’s a bad bad problem and I own nearly 2,000 books now. Some are total crap and yet….I can’t purge. I also can’t find a therapist who handles this issue nor can I find a self help book to buy on the issue….lol If I could…purchasing such a self help book would defeat my purpose. *sigh*

  6. Placemat 29.Nov.08 at 11:13 pm

    If I didn’t care for the book – it goes.

    If it’s hardback, & I’ve read/liked the book – it stays.

    If it’s paperback, but I love it – it stays until I score a hardback.

    Everything else (comics included) might get cut during a purge, unless it’s reference.

  7. holtz 30.Nov.08 at 3:47 pm

    Which Hornby books did you get rid of?

  8. Jodi 30.Nov.08 at 3:50 pm

    About a Boy and How to be Good. You want them?

  9. david 30.Nov.08 at 4:11 pm

    I totally agree about On the Road, that’s one of the most common literary arguments I have…

    I have been cleaning out my own bookcases, too, and now have three boxes of books and four boxes of CDs available to friends and family (they are especially popular with touring musicians and authors). For a long time I had trouble getting rid of even mediocre fiction, now I just give it away if I didn’t like the book.


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