The First Fight

Perhaps fight is a little bit strong of a word. How about disagreement? That sounds much more civil.

Him: Do books count?

Me: Of course they count.

Him: What if I buy them used at the Goodwill?

Me: Still counts.

Him: But why?

Me: Because you don’t need to buy books. We have a perfectly good library in town. Also I just packed up four boxes of books to bring to the Goodwill.

Him: I hope you didn’t pack up any of my books that I still want.

Me: Like the paperback books you used in college and have been sitting in boxes for the past 15 years?

Him: Yeah, those books. I was just thinking about one of them.

Me: After 15 years you were thinking about one of them?

Him: Yes!

Me: Well, too bad. Someone else is thinking about your book now.

50 Responses to “The First Fight”

  1. She Likes Purple Says:

    That last line made me laugh out loud. Sounds exactly like something I would say to my husband.

  2. Fairly Odd Mother Says:

    Can you swap? Paperback Swap has been my savior in terms of giving me a way to get rid of books I no longer need BUT I still get some ‘new’ ones that someone else no longer wants. There are just some books I want to keep and not return to the library. (and, your husband sounds like mine—I just got him to get rid of his college textbooks; college was a l-o-n-g time ago!)

  3. Dixie Says:

    My husband has had a lot of luck on Bookmooch. Although, it costs to send the books people want from you, so I guess that’s sort of like “buying” the books.

    I’m really enjoying this little adventure you’ve undertaken. (Calling it a “little” adventure is the understatement of the year!)

  4. Nikki Bonham Says:

    You should try one of those places that will trade you 2 for 1… bring them 2 books, get 1 free. Its a good way to pare down your book collection without the guilt of giving away too many at once!!

  5. Photojenic Says:

    I’ve been trying to just take January “off” and have failed miserably. The reason? Books! I happened to see a brand new Salvation Army “Family Store” and stopped in for a peek. Somebody had donated a wonderful collection of nearly new, twaddle free children’s books. *sigh* Your DH has my sympathy.

  6. Lilly Says:

    Until you mentioned college, I thought this disagreement was with one of the kids… You can say this is just for a year and anybody can get by with books from the library for a year, right?

    But it’s surprising how the habits you make this year might stick. Example: 2 other families and ours had to walk our kids to school rather than drive because of a week long road repair and after the week we continued to walk because it was so nice. We just had to be made to go a little out of our way to get started.

  7. christine Says:

    This is probably very underhanded, but I’ve found that if I don’t mention to my husband that something of his has gone to the Goodwill, he won’t ever notice that it’s gone.

  8. embee Says:

    Sounds like my husband. I have been trying to get rid of his college textbooks for a while now. I don’t care where they go - I don’t have the patience for ebay so I’m willing to go downtown and hand them out to bums, whatever. He says he’ll need them some day.

    Yeah, since he’s needed them in the 7 years since graduating. And I also say, when did you use them when you were in college? I thought so.

  9. Stefanie Says:

    wow it is like you listen on the convos between me and MY husband!

  10. Tiffany Says:

    My husband used to say that he was keeping those college books and someday he was going to read them to find out what it is he “learned” while in college.

    And, yea, libraries! I’m a librarian I like them so much :-). Somewhere else to keep all the books I love and tax dollars to buy them with. What’s not to love?

  11. Lesli Says:

    What is it with these guys and their school books? If I gave away any, my packrat husband would undoubtedly be looking for those very ones the next day. And I agree, great last line!

  12. Paul Nichols Says:

    Swap, trade like we used to do with our baseball cards and comics. There are places around that let you do that. I’m watching this blog with great interest. I want you to go all the way. Goals bigger than ourselves are the ones that build our backbones. You only have 350 days remaining. I’m thinking you can do it.

    I don’t know what kind of work you do, but ‘no credit card debt’ is a massive statement. Good for you!

  13. carrie Says:

    Running away to throw all those college books I’ll never read again in the “dontate” pile, with my tail between my legs.

  14. carrie Says:


    because I DID go to college, and obviously that English major did me some good! Lol!

  15. Alissa Says:

    just tell him that anything he could find in that textbook, he can now find online…

  16. Jenny Says:

    My husband is the Australian version of your husband. He has boxes of books in the garage that have been there so long the boxes are almost disintergrating in the damp. I’m trying the same thing as you, and just hoping eventually he will come along for the ride.

  17. The Chatty Housewife Says:

    Ha ha! I sent all my husbands books to work with him in a box. They are work related, so I told him they belong at work in his locker. I wonder how long they will stay there. I am just glad not to have them here in the house. Your post was hilarious and I loved it!

  18. dynamitt Says:

    Im starting to wonder if all men are like this. My husband too would be upset f I gave away books he has not looked at for years. Why are they like that?

  19. Brigitte Says:

    I’ll agree if it’s stuff I’ll likely never read again, but I reread (and reread . .) a lot of my books, sometimes years later, and they’re out-of-print and hard to find - even at the library (even if they check with other libraries). THOSE books are a personal need for me.

    Then again, my reading is an addiction, where I’ve been known to let everything else slide so I could read just . . one . . more . . chapter!

  20. girlymama Says:

    We will have that same fight the day I pack up all of his textbooks from college, grad school and HIGH SCHOOL and ship them off. Since they have never been opened ONCE since they were put on the book shelf.

  21. Maine Mom Says:

    This hits home because a week ago I went through some of our many books and decided we could get rid of the novels that are at our local library…which are my husbands. I have them in plastic bags for my husband to look through before they go to Goodwill, but I’m sure the books will sit for months without my husband going through them and I will then take them to Goodwill. If it means anything, I support your decision to get rid of the books!

  22. loraxknits Says:

    I love this post - we have this conversation constantly. Luckily (or not) we just moved in May, and believe me, when you have to lug the boxes up the stairs from one basement, onto the truck and then back down the stairs into another basement, you know they count!!

  23. wookie Says:

    I really REALLY should donate some of my books, but… but I love books. Books are my clutter weakness. I rarely ever buy a book new, instead doing all my book shopping at used bookstores.

    See, if they go on shelves, then they don’t look like clutter, right?

  24. Lisa Y Says:

    We made a rule in our house (more like a truce) that we keep our hands off the other ones “junk”. This is very hard for me since my husband collects EVERYTHING! I would however be incredibly irritated with my husband if he raided my craft supply because “I didn’t need it”. It would seem too disrespectful.

    So we just don’t throw the other’s things out without permission.

  25. Cheryl M. Says:

    ha ha ha ha…between the last line here and Jesus (I mean Miles) at the bathroom door, you have me laughing this morning, Chris! Have a wonderful day! :)

  26. Ladybug Crossing Says:

    I never ever buy books - unless they are children’s Christmas books. I always use the library. Much much cheaper - especially if you return them on time.

  27. Kimberly Says:

    Good for you!!! I have really enjoyed your sharing your “War on Clutter!” This latest installment sounds like something I would have to do…if I ever got around to tackling my own crap. Not that I’m blameless in all this, but, really, it’s not about me. My husband, since we’ve been married has had these rocks, pretty rocks, but rocks all the same that he INSISTS we keep. The are sentimental AND STILL IN THE CARDBOARD BOX WE MOVED THEM IN…AGAIN!!! Do I seem bitter? I ask him every time I come across said rocks (computer components that don’t work, or books that have had several editions published of the same book since the book was put in it’s current, dusty place in our book shelf, or whatever else I feel like tossing at the moment) if I can purge it. He says no! I complain, uh, er, tell my mom about it and she keeps telling me, “don’t ask!” For now, I can’t seem to follow that and keep asking hoping he finally lets go. Apparently that’s the definition to insanity…doing the same thing repeatedly expecting different results. Maybe one day I will see the light of sanity and stop asking! Until then I’ll just have to live vicariously through you. Thanks for sharing.

  28. Melinda Says:

    My husband just got his first “real” job. I was so excited that all those college books could go to work with him. I remember the last time I was decluttering (so that we could move) I found a ratty old sports poster shoved in the corner of the kids playroom closet. It had moved with us 3 times and my husband had never used it. I threw it away. That very day my husband came home from work and asked about the poster. It was unbelievable. He went and retrieved it out of the garbage can.

  29. Penelope Anne Says:

    You know this is a conversation I have with my husband often. I learned sneak it out when he isn’t looking and eventually they forget…we hope.
    We use the library and sometimes a good used bookstore will let you exchange, bring in a few books, and get a few without a cost. Get to know the used book sellers in town.

  30. Heather's Garden Says:

    My basement is full of my husband’s boxes of books. He’s 54 and the books date back to his high school days. I have asked him repeatedly to get rid of them, but he insists that it’s his library. Apparently he doesn’t count the 10 bookcases full of books that we have in our 4 room apartment as our library. I will say that anytime I mention an older book — The Maltese Falcon, Brave New World, Catcher in the Rye, he comes up with at least one paperback copy from “his library.” I hate giving away books too, but I’ve found the fewer I buy, the fewer I need to make space for. Good luck, Chris, new books are definitely one addiction I’d have a hard time breaking.

  31. Lucinda Says:

    I love this! It’s something I have been striving for (but not achieving) for the last couple of years. I totally had this conversation with my husband years ago about the books that he didn’t read even when he was in college! Ha ha.

    Now with a new house, kids, new town, over the past 3 years or so our finances are not where we would like them to be. We have no credit card debt and have always paid cash for major purchases, including our cars.

    We do however have a revolving line of credit for our business (has to do with purchasing raw goods for the year in a period of 3 months but waiting 4 months to be paid for the first batch of processed goods when we sell them). However, this year we weren’t able to pay it off in the usual month and that was frightening. So about October I started seriously cutting back. Very little was spent for Christmas and it was fine although we did allow ourselves some freedom during the vacation that followed, but we could do it because 2 months of cutting back had made a huge difference.

    With your blog I have been inspired to also cut back on the useless crap we accumulate. It is so refreshing to just get rid of. I still do a lot of “window” shopping on the internet but often find little need to actually buy. It’s really just a mindset. Sorry so wordy but I love that this is becoming a path more are taking. Thanks for sharing your experiences.

  32. Mother Chaos Says:


    We’ve had that discussion a few (dozen) times through the years. I’ve finally gotten the One Year box together. Things that are “in question” (translation: Stuff one of us is arguing is absolutely VITAL while the other one is claiming it hasn’t been used since Noah was a pup) go into the One Year box. If they aren’t used (not merely thought of - USED) in one year’s time, into the donation pile they go.

    You wouldn’t believe how many “specialty” kitchen utensils I’ve lost this way…and, uh, not missed at all, after all…

  33. Monica Says:

    LOL! I would’ve told him that he can *still* think about his books.

    My husband likes to collect the crap you see sold as souvenirs. Not only useless wastes of space, but very difficult to dust. I don’t want to donate them, I want to burn them in a pile and dance around it. Our more practical solution is that he has one small shelf for this crap and he has to dust it.

  34. Christina Says:

    I have to sympathize with your husband about throwing away books. I had a huge fight with my husband when I found out he threw away a stack of my old books because they are just important to me , for no reason whatsoever. I just can’t see throwing away books. Having said that, I have been getting books from the library since the summer and I love bwing able to go on the library website and request any book i want for FREE!
    Oh - yes- small things excite me very much I guess…

    Chris says: Well, I didn’t throw them away in the GARBAGE! I am sure they will all get nice new homes. Hopefully not in boxes in the attic.

  35. {heather} Says:

    Books.. ah yes.. I have way too many of them and still continue to purchase them. …I have the hardest time passing up sales at Amazon & B&N… I added up my book purchases last year— $297.00…. The store I will be staying away from is the B&N that is 2 minutes away from work, where I also purchase Starbucks coffee every single time I am in there to purchase a book.

  36. Holly Says:

    I just found your blog and it is totally speaking to what is going on with me right now! I am really downsizing my life in a radical way (well I am trying to)! And i made a commitment this year not buy anything except neccessities. I am finding your blog really inspiring. It is good to know that I am not crazy and there other people out there trying the same thing.

  37. Susana Says:

    To make the peace would you consider ordering the book he ‘thinking’ about from the library ;-)

  38. Kathy Says:

    Maybe mentioning the tax deduction for donations will help ease the pain. It worked at my house. Our local library has a bookstore that takes donations and will send you a lovely, official form for tax purposes.

    Monica, I want to see the burning pile of crap on youtube! Anything similar to the burning man festival? We can only hope!

  39. rachel Says:

    Wow. What an amazing challenge!

    Should I ship my spare books to you? ;)

    My grandmother gets free books at the cancer center in Middletown. Might not be worth the free books vs the drive, though.

  40. Janet Says:

    I’m afraid that I have to side with Rob on this one. Books from Goodwill shouldn’t count. In fact, being the avid thrift store shopping person that I am, I don’t believe that anything from Goodwill, Am-vets or Salvation Army should count. NO to buying new, YES to buying second hand. I mean we all want to recycle don’t we?

    PS the above message is from a Thrift store addict. My name is Janet and I am an addict.

    PPS I did mean that in a teasing sort of way. I am currrently cleaning the garage and have a HUGE pile of stuff that is going to Am-Vets …… where most of it came from in the first place!

  41. Janie Says:

    Cracking me up! :) My husband and I both blog, and this reminded me of an ongoing event in our house… Check it out!

    Your conversation sounded so familiar! :) J

  42. Kim Says:

    Admittedly, I am your husband in this scenario. I have a true love affair with books.
    I used to be a bookstore manager in days gone by and well, it has been down-hill ever since. I have gotten better over the last year or so, relying on our fantastic library more and more. Small baby steps for me!

  43. ElizabethB Says:

    I can relate…we have a lot of books.

    I got some old college books to replace the ones we sold when we were poor college students. One of the math books I got was pretty old. My husband was making fun of me, I told him, “Math has been pretty much the same since Newton, except the really recent school math books which have taken the math out of math.” He agreed, but said, “It’s still pretty old.”

    Inter-library loan. I should use it more myself to get books I want that our library doesn’t have. The few times I’ve used it, I’ve been very pleased.

    I also love bookstores that will take your old books for credit–you can pretend like you’re de-cluttering while getting new books!

  44. ElizabethB Says:

    OK, I went and read a bunch of your old posts (I just found your blog today.) I’m now the 10th person to nag you about inter-library loan. Consider yourself over-nagged. I also enjoy reading books online, although you can’t sit there as long as with a “real” book. However, for some books, especially the older books that are more apt to be free online, they way they are written makes you less likely to be able to read them in one sitting. (Higher grade level, actual interesting ideas in them, etc.)

    Which brings me to a point from one of your previous posts, “How to instill a love of reading.” You said, “I know people who tell me that they don’t read. Ever. Not because they can’t, but because they don’t want to. They don’t enjoy reading. I can’t even understand this. It would be like someone saying they don’t like rainbows or candy or shoes on sale.” I totally agree, I started literacy tutoring in 1994 because I love reading. In another post, you mention the superiority of phonics–you are totally right with that, and that also is the answer that explains away your confusion. Here’s the explanation, “Why Johnny Doesn’t Like to Read:”

  45. Amy S. Says:

    Funny! We had that same conversation in my house except I was your husband and my husband was you. It did feel good to unload a ton of old books, but I did manage to keep a few from college (because I WILL read the “Canterbury Tales” again! Someday.)

  46. entropy Says:

    Wow! I’ve just stumbled onto your site. I can’t wait to read more about your Non-shopping adventures. Awesome!

  47. Suburban Turmoil Says:

    Oh no you di’in’t! ;)

  48. Emmie s. (Better Make It A Double) Says:

    I can so relate to this! My spouse hates getting rid of books, even
    “my” books. Drives me insane. to be fair, though, I’ve really been the big “accumulator” over the 7 years we’ve been married. We’re doing the 2008 Compact now, and it feels so good to stop shopping and start purging. Thanks for the inspiration. I just wrote about my experiences shopping for “deals” at Target - you might relate, from what you’ve written. It too had a rather sudden conversion, realizing all of a sudden that I’d just had enough of consumption, overspending, and stuff filling up our house. For me, oddly, it came right after seeing the immediate aftermath of a suicide jump at our local gigantic mall.

  49. SleepyNita Says:

    Books are the one thing I have the hardest time parting with. Even when I give them away or sell them I feel pretty sad about it. Heck if I know why.

  50. Rebecca Says:

    Of all the things in the world, books would be the hardest for me not to buy. I never buy books new and use the library literally every single day….but I cannot walk past a sign that says “Book Sale” and not stop!

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