Lately, I have been in a state of purging. I keep giving away things – clothes, CDs, even books – to clean out my space and open my view, at least figuratively, to the spacious sky. But I have a system for what books I keep and what I don’t. It’s not a system I have ever articulated until now, but it works something like this.

I keep books by my favorite writers – Chaim Potok, Marilynne Robinson, Anne Lamott, Angela Carter, A.S. Byatt, etc.

I keep books that meant something to me, like works by John Eldredge or C.S. Lewis, books that changed the way I live my life.

I keep books that I haven’t read, unless I know I won’t read them.

I keep a full shelf of children’s books that I have had since I was a kid. Sets of Nancy Drew that were my moms, this beautiful set of classics, etc.

I keep writing books and teaching books and books by my friends.

I don’t keep books I’ll never read or books I read but didn’t get blown away by. I don’t keep books I get to review, unless they fit in one of the categories above. I don’t keep “how to” books or even gardening books. I just don’t have the space.

The truth is that I’m always gathering more books than I am giving away. I just can’t help myself. Even with all the books I own and haven’t read, I still go to the library. I just love books. I love having them around me, filling my mind with their words, using them for comfort and escape, learning from them. They are – in terms of non-living things – my favorite things in the world.

What do you keep? What do you give away? How do you decide?

In honor of this post and my desire to pare down, again, I am hosting a big book giveaway on Friday. I’ll be divvying out – FOR FREE – more than 50 titles. If you spread the word about the giveaway, you get first dibs. If you comment on the post and name a title you want, I’ll use a random number generator to decide who gets the book (if there’s more than one taker). So please, stay tuned. There’s some good ones in the stack. And please, pass the giveaway along. I’d love to get all these guys into good homes. (By the way, the leftovers will be given to Goodwill. No book left behind. :))

Man Covered in Books