Loved to Death

What you're about to see may disturb you.

Then again, maybe it won't. But it will bring up a question, because I need your help, and that question is:

When do you just let a book die? For instance, there's this.

Photo 1

And this:

Photo 2

And there's this too:

Photo 3

Yeah it is—was—Clash of Kings. Or at least, the front half.

I mean, I know you're supposed to get rid of them when you can't really read them anymore. When pages are falling out even as you're reading it. But…am I the only sucker who feels bad doing this? I mean, on some level I understand that every book is a reproduction, and that they are a medium (rather than a message? Or something?). Still, I can't quite consign Charles Dickens to the recycling. It just feels wrong.

Advice? Insight? Vision? I'm open to it all.

—Sincerely, someone whose library relies far too heavily on packing tape

6 thoughts on “Loved to Death

  1. You’re not supposed to get rid of them. You’re supposed to send them to my cousin at so she can lovingly restore the books for you! And I promise, she will try not to judge you for having used packing tape on your babies!! (I too am guilty of most of the things books conservators say not to do….)


  2. I have loved your blog ever since I discovered the “recommends” feature … We were also looking for what to do after Katie Woo…
    Anyway at least your using packaging tape which is clear … I have seriously used duct tape a time or two 🙂
    Some books just can’t be retired …
    Maybe it’s a garage sale 10 cents hardback Heidi that you actually paid someone 3x more to have rebound than it cost to replace because it was the first book you remember making you cry.
    Maybe it’s 52 Trixie Belden paperbacks with bent and broken spines many missing covers that you waited 35 years to unpack and put on your daughters top book shelf to patiently wait just a few more years…
    But before I get nominated for an episode of hoarders buried alive by books (but at least we could be on the show together) …
    There are plenty of well used well worn beloved books that I have donated … I have been told by many in mission work that our tattered treasures tho weary worn are welcomed as precious and priceless gifts.
    So in my opinion (since you asked) as long as the books in question can fit on a book shelf (or two) then tape away my friend … And save the recycling for the pop cans 🙂


  3. Never. Never. Never.
    I recently listened to an interview with Penelope Lively, and she said the most wonderful things about her books — the many thousands of them — how getting rid of stuff is so important as you age, except for the books, as they are, essentially HER. I think it was Fresh Air, but I can’t be sure —


  4. I have a few books like that, where the pages fall out as I read the book for the 1000000th time. And even if I have dupes of things… Replace?! Never! (unfortunately, most of the ones falling apart are the paperbacks)
    I feel sorry for the person who has to dig me out of my book hoard at the end of my life….


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