I don’t buy many new books. Whenever possible, I borrow new stories from the library. If I love it, I’ll buy a copy; if not, I return it with no cost but the time it took to read. This keeps my shelves at home full of books I love and empty of ones I don’t, and it keeps the mental and physical clutter down to a minimum.
In years past, I did the same with books for my growing sons. Our favorites have shelf space at home. Outgrown favorites are passed on to the library or neighbors, giving them a life beyond our family. Our board book copies of A Very Hungry Caterpillar and Sheep Out to Eat, with duplicates of Harry the Dirty Dog and Mike Mulligan and His Steam Shovel are in the hands of other children, passing on the blessing they gave to me and my sons. The stories and pictures are still in our hearts and minds, and we can always borrow a copy if we feel nostalgic.
My older son will begin his senior year in September, my younger his eighth grade year. Both are well on their way to adulthood, no longer children who need me to read stories. I can’t put my sons on a shelf or stop them from growing up. Soon they will live lives beyond my home and help. Even if I could, I wouldn’t. Like library books, they aren’t mine: I’ve borrowed them for a brief time, keeping them safe and enjoying the adventures they bring. Besides, they are written on my heart and soul – no need to keep them when the time comes to let them go.
For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. Ecclesiastes 3:1