We’ve only just begun.  (Please do imagine Karen Carpenter singing that line for a moment, will you?)

Packing books that is.  Since we’re taking the farm not too far up the road, we’ve begun packing in stages, taking loads of things to P’s parents’ house as a wayside.  But we’ve only sent a few boxes of books that way.

I’ve gotten rid of a few more by selling them to Powell’s or listing them on Half.com.  But given the size of our house, I have pared down my collection significantly already. . . and at some point, I just find myself unable to part with that copy of The Blue Flower that I’ve been carrying for 15 years because I WILL read it.  So, I’m still packed with several hundred books to pack up.

The trick to packing books – as you probably well know – is that they have to be placed in small boxes.  Those big tote things or huge paper towel boxes will render a box of books unlifted or render someone’s back unliftable.

The boxes I most recommend – after almost 10 moves since college – are liquor boxes.  Here’s why:

  • They’re typically small.  We don’t ship liquor in gallons, so the boxes allow for a few books but not enough to harm anyone’s spine.
  • They’re sturdy. Liquor weighs a fair amount in bulk, it seems.  So these boxes can bear a full set of Shakespeare without any problem.
  • They seal well.  Typically, because of their sturdy frames, you can reseal a box easily, not having to patch together a top with a masterful use of packing tape.
  • They make your new neighbors ask questions.  A recluse? A great dinner party host? A Hemingway wannabe?
  • They aren’t shippable.  You can’t really ship liquor boxes, so they can’t be reused that way.  But in packing, you can put these guys to good use at least one more time, and then you can freecycle them for more uses before they are utimately recycled into a cool cardboard moose head to mount on your wall.
  • They allow you to meet new people when you ask to have boxes at the liquor store.  When I moved from Baltimore, I went to the liquor store across the street and the two men working and I chatted about the coke dealer who lived two doors from me, about the famous hot dog place on the corner, about how we wished it was easier to walk to the great Greek place up the street.  Then, every time they saw me on the street, I got a wave.  That felt nice.

So today, I’ll be swinging by our local ABC store to see if I can get the clerk to part with some whiskey bottles – I feel like whiskey boxes make me look hard-core even though I don’t really drink whiskey or much at all, in fact.  So if you see Trapper the Subaru filled with liquor boxes, a red dog, and a girl with glasses, give me a wave.  It might just give you a laugh, and it’ll definitely make me smile.

What tips do you have for packing books? Any particular system?  Any box sources you recommend?