The Problem With My Bookshelves


As long-time readers know, on Fridays — like, you know, today — I do a week-in-review type of thing. Today, there’s not much to review, but I could use your ideas on another matter.

To put it simply: I have a lot of books that I’ve read or will never read. They’re sitting on my bookshelves and I don’t really need them, so they’re just taking up space. I could throw them out/recycle them, but that feels like a waste; somewhere, there’s someone who may want the book. How do I best get the book into a good new home?

I considered selling them on eBay or Mercari, but that proved to be counterproductive — the relatively expensive purchase price — $5 including shipping and platform fees — meant that the books would just sit on my shelves, hopelessly unsold. (And I’d only get like a buck a book, not that those dollars are my goal.) The local library doesn’t take in-kind donations, probably because there are lots of people who would dump a bunch of mostly-worthless books on them if they did. The same goes for local thrift shops; they only take best sellers and the like. There are a couple of Free Little Libraries near me, but I’ll ultimately have 20-30 books I want to get rid of; that’ll only account for maybe five. And yes, I considered just listing the books here and asking you all if you want any, but the hassle (and cost) of shipping is a real one, especially if I’m shipping books individually. My best idea so far — in large part because I think it would work, but also because I think it’d be funny — is to go to an estate or garage sale and give them the books for free. It’s a win-win — they’re set up to sell stuff like this anyway, and I get rid of the books. And getting to see the look on their faces as I explain that I’m coming to a garage sale to give them my junk… that’s a pretty cool benefit.

If you have ideas, please let me know — I need suggestions. Thanks!

The Now I Know Week in Review

Monday: Took the day off! 

Tuesday: The Great Tattoo Cover Up: The surprising business of denudifying tattoos. (And if “denudifying” wasn’t a word beforehand, it is now. At least as far as I’m concerned.)

Wednesday: A Creative Way to Check on a Mate: Involves blindfolds.

Thursday: Canada’s Not My Fault Button: I didn’t realize this when I selected this re-run, but all three articles this week are somewhat related to World Wars. That’s not good. I’ll need to do less war-related stuff next week.

And some other things you should check out:

Some long reads or listens for the weekend.

1) “The Flag and the Fury” (Radiolab, 1-hour 16-minute podcast episode, July 2020). This is the story — in incredible detail — of the efforts to remove the Confederate battle flag from the state flag of Mississippi. It starts with an accidental male cheerleader, which surprised the heck out of me. 

2) “Black Children Were Jailed for a Crime That Doesn’t Exist. Almost Nothing Happened to the Adults in Charge.” (ProPublica, 44 minutes, October 2021). I don’t often mention this, but I’m a former lawyer — I stopped practicing years ago, but I have a law degree and in theory, can appear in court and do all those lawyer-y things. But I only worked as a lawyer for a couple of years, so I don’t think you should hire me. More to the point, though, I don’t have a really good feel for how things work inside the justice system; I get it on an academic level but not in a practical one. This story was a rough one because there’s no way, on that academic level, it should ever happen. The first rule of criminal law is that if it’s not a crime, you can’t go to jail for it. But this case breaks that rule — and shamelessly so. 

3) “How to Think Outside Your Brain” (New York Times, 11 minutes, June 2021). I went back and forth on sharing this one because I’m not sure if I like it — it feels very antiseptic and new-age-y at the same time. But I’m really into metacognition — thinking about how we think — so I have a feeling that some of the stuff in this piece will stick with me for years. 

Have a great weekend!