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A Bibliophile’s Packing Dilemma

I’m moving on Friday, to a whole new job, a whole new city, a whole new country in fact. I’m excited and terrified at the same time. This is a whole new level of independence and responsibility that I’ve never had before, and knowing me, I will either screw up badly or do brilliantly. There’s no middle ground.

One of the things I’m really looking forward to is having my own place and furnishing it the way I like (priorities, amirite?). I’ve started looking at apartment listings and furniture catalogues already. I have visions of myself strolling through IKEA, seeing my perfect living room/bed room and saying, “This is it. This is so me.” I am also on the lookout for the perfect bookshelf… which brings us to the title of this post.


*clears throat*

Books, I’ve discovered, are very heavy indeed. 10 paperbacks and 5 hardbacks together weight 6.7 kg (14.7) pounds. I’m only allowed 40 kg for my flight, of which 10 kg have already been taken up by the weight of my bags themselves. Speaking of bags, I had absolutely no idea they could cost so much; I was so shocked! Anyway. I have about 400 books on my shelves, out of which there are 65 books I haven’t read it (give or take). My first solution?

Read All the Books

I thought I was making good progress. I was reading one book per day. But with a sinking feeling, I realised that if I were to read all my books before leaving, I would need to go through at least 6 per day. Impossible. Distraught, I started thinking of other tactics.

1. I could stuff all my books in my handbag. That’s not suspicious at all. Airports don’t weigh handbags! Of course, it still means I need to find a ginormous handbag asap. Plus, I think the sound of my shoulder breaking at the airport might give me away. Next!

2. I could flirt with the customs officer. The problems with this became immediately evident. I don’t know how to flirt; I’ll probably be taken for a lunatic, and I’ll probably end up embarrassing myself with something like this:


3. Leave all my clothes behind and only pack my books. This was a bad idea. For very obvious reasons.

4. Have by books shipped by sea or air. Or even land. Nope. Not unless I want to pay an arm and a leg for it. I already will be having a lot of expenses and I need to save as much money as I possibly can.

5. I could not take any books at all… said my mother. She was serious. I could only mouth soundlessly at her.

Eventually I realised that my only option would be to take some of my books with me (15 at the most), and pick up my other books during later trips. I was just starting to come to term with this decision when I became aware that I had come full circle. In fact, I’ve only made things more difficult for me – how the heck do I go about picking 15 books out of my entire collection?

If you had to choose 10 books to take with you from your shelves, which would you choose? Have you ever been in a similar situation? If you’ve got any more solutions, do let me know! 

28 thoughts on “A Bibliophile’s Packing Dilemma

  1. Oh my, that’s a tough one. I guess if I could only take ten books, I’d take ten I haven’t read yet. I’m not much of a re-reader. Good luck with the move. Sounds exciting!

    1. I’m definitely taking books I haven’t read. Problem is I have over 60 of them so it’s proving veeery difficult to choose. xD Maybe I’ll go with the pretty ones… hmm…

  2. I have a similar problem. In a year and a half, my family is moving to Canada from Japan. Over 9 and a half years, I’ve collected more than 150 books. I haven’t even read half of them yet. I can’t read them all over the next 1 1/2 years with a 2-4 year old kid. I am taking them all to Canada. I’m not interested in seeing how much it’ll cost.

        1. I bet. =[ I hope it’s not too bad though. And yeah, for now at least. Mum was threatening to sell them all and I’m like, “DON’T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT.”

        2. My dad once tried to sell all of my things when I was away at university and my parents got divorced. My mom saved it all. All he wanted was the money. I still have all of my childhood toys, which may be worth quite a bit of money now.

        3. That’s very good of your mum to save your things. I love saving stuff from my childhood. It’s making me turn into a bit of a hoarder but… it’s cool stuff. D:

  3. Congratulations on your new job and move. I suspect this is part of the reason kindle is so very popular. The question that I find most useful in distilling the pack is “which books do I ALWAYS go back to?” Those references are the ones you can’t live without. Anything else you chose to take or leave is fixable when it becomes a problem – like you said you can bring them to you slowly. Good luck!

    1. Thank you, Lisa! Yeah, probably, but I love paperbacks and hardcovers so much. The thing is, I’m not a re-reader, so I feel it would be a waste of space right now to take books I’ve already read, which is why I’m only consulting the books I haven’t read now. I’ve made a tentative pile now, so… I guess we’ll see what happens!

  4. Yay! Congrats on the big move, Zen! Do we get to find out where, or is that coming at a later time?

    If I could only choose 10, I’d pick the faves I’ve had forever—5 from childhood, 5 from adulthood. I’ve read all of my current collection but one book. My to-be-read list is piling up on my Kindle and I can take that anywhere with me. : )

    1. Thanks, Britt! I’m actually moving to UAE, but I will of course shed more light on that later. 🙂

      That’s a good answer. And of course it would be a great solution too if I were into rereading books. And while I do like ebooks, I just can’t resist print!

  5. I feel your pain. I’ll be moving cross-country next year and I have soooo many unread books also. My solution? Get rid of all my furniture and keep the books. I can always sit on my books and use them as a table, right?

    1. Absolutely! I don’t see why you shouldn’t be able to do that. 🙂 Since you have more time than me though, I think you should start reading as much as you can!

    1. I think I’ve about settled on the books I’m going to take… 18 in total. I couldn’t limit myself to 15. >.> But maybe I can do that, yes. xD

  6. When I moved in 2012 I threw out a lot of books but I still bought TEN BOXES of books with me (now that’s a serious amount of books). I’d say if you have any of mine you should definitely put them on the top of the list (LOL) 😀

    1. Oh my. That is a LOT of books! I think eventually I will move them all with me, but it’ll take some time! I have your books stored on my phablet, so no worries there. 😉 I’ve been wanting to sit down and read them but I’m so very busy. =[

    1. It has been quite difficult, but I think I’ve finally decided which books to take. I feel so sad looking at all my other books though. 😥

      Haha, thanks! I thought her expression was super funny. xD

  7. How exciting and congratulations on your new job! I’ve moved around a lot and bringing my books is always such a challenge (just packing them all up and unpacking them takes forever!). When someone else wasn’t paying for my move, when I was a student, I shipped my books via ‘very slow boat mail’. It took a couple of months for my books to arrive and I was so worried about them but they eventually arrived and it was relatively cheap.

    Hope your move goes smoothly and you find a great new bookstore soon!

    1. Thank you! 😀 I hear you. I once had my books shipped by boat and it was a very tense time for me. Kept thinking the boat will sink and all my books will be gone forever. 😦

      I already found an awesome bookstore. 😉 The move so far is proving good enough. I’ll be sure to post an update soon!

  8. You could grab the first 15 alphabetically? Or alphabetically by author?

    When we moved from Alaska to California, I did ship my books down. However I have able to mostly use those priority shipping boxes that cost the same no matter how heavy they are. ^-^ It was still a lot of money of course, but no way were my books not coming down with me.

    Perhaps you could do something similar, but just pre-pack them in boxes and send your Mom money to ship you one every month? Then it’s like some awesome book club or something! ^-^

    1. But that would mean I’d abandon books I haven’t read in favour of old ones. D:

      That’s a good way to go about it! I’m not sure how shipping works here, but I know that where I lived we didn’t have that option. The more the weight the costlier it is. 😦

      The good thing is, I managed to haul 20 books with me. Of course, when I arrived, I remembered another book I’d wanted to pack. So now I’ll have to buy myself a second copy. =/

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