Wednesday, March 09, 2016

Downsizing--still and again

A portion of one of my bookcases
in my house
Moving from 1850 square feet to 600 proves more complicated every day. I have three built-in bookcases, two large free-standing ones, a barrister’s bookcase, and the top of my mom’s secretary, all filled with books, some shelves with books piled sideways, etc. Plus some storage areas that I filled with books, and the boxes of books that came down from the attic. That’s a lot of books, and they have become our major preoccupation these days. I left for dinner with a friend tonight while Jacob was still doing homework—so Jordan, being compulsive as she learned from her mom, sorted more books.

Today, my archivist friend Carol came to make a start. She sat quietly, making notes, frequently consulting her phone—I later found out she was looking at current retail prices for various titles. She asked for three books—one sells for about $125 but she wanted it for research. At lunch, with two other friends, we discovered that one book Subie had taken is worth something like $300 on the market—she felt so guilty she bought my lunch!

Most of my books are not collectibles—a few will bring $100 or so retail which means I’d get at best $25 for each. Most are in the $30 range. I don’t want to get rich from this—I just want to clear the shelves. Carol noted enough titles of interest that she wrote to some used book dealers to see if they’d be interested in coming to look. What I must do first is pull any books I want to keep—a dealer will be quickly discouraged if he picks a book and I say, “Oh, no, I’m keeping that.” There are many books I’m sentimental about—but I need to keep only those I use frequently or those of really special value to me. Like the history of Blue Willow china—we eat off my mom’s set daily, and I gave another set to my niece who said she was thrilled to have something that belonged to Grandmother.

Carol even unearthed my master’s diploma, thesis, and bachelor’s certificate. Now if she’d only find my doctoral diploma and dissertation. I swear I had them once.

Today I emailed the archivist at Southwest Writers Collection, where my papers are. We’ll take three boxes of papers to Austin this weekend, but he said he’d like at least one coy of every book I’ve written. Does the man know what he’s letting himself in for?

I feel really good about doing this now, while I can answer questions, point out books in which I have a short story or essay, even though it’s not a book by me. But there’s a lot of work ahead. I am so fortunate to have Jordan who does the lifting, hauling and organizing while I sit at a table with a glass of wine, and I’m fortunate to have helpful friends—even if they do get some of my most valuable booksJ

A sad story: I have a first edition of Larry McMurtry’s book of essays, In a Narrow Grave. Probably worth quite a bit. The sad part? I underlined and wrote all over it when working on a paper on McMurtry for graduate school. I’m keeping that one.


Susan Mary Malone said...

I'm not sure how I'd deal with sorting my books that way--I don't envy you, Judy! But what a wonderful thing to unearth treasures.
A signed copy of In a Narrow Grave. Wow. I wouldn't be concerned about the underlining because it would never be leaving my possession anyway!
Christmas all over again :)

Judy Alter said...

It's not signed, except for my unfortunate scribblings. Still, I'm keeping it. Lots to do--pull out books I want before dealer comes, prepare for neighborhood garage sale. I'd be overwhelmed if it weren't for my daughter.