PCS: Is It Time To Dump The Books?


I collect books. The free ones that the library is throwing away. The cheapos in the bargain bin. Hand me downs from friends. Smut, college texts,  poetry anthologies,aeronautics stuff, 1960s sci-fi.You leave a box of books out for recycling and I may just take the whole thing.

I meant to read all those books. The problem was with a full time and part time job, countless volunteering positions, a family, friends, and being a military spouse, I ran out of time. The books piled up without leaving. Even more came in.My husband joked that the house would go up in flames if it hit my library first.

When the movers came, I was more concerned with the furniture and the dinnerware from my grandmother than the shelves of random books. I eventually came to regret it.

Since we were not going to hit our weight limit and we only had  30 days notice to PCS, I thought we could wait for the new duty station before sorting through the books. I did not realize what a pain that would be or how my priorities would change.

At the new location, there was no housing where my husband was to work.  The architecture of our house was designed for people who apparently didn’t own furniture or TVs or books.

Aside from the heartbreak when my furniture came ruined but not destroyed, what ended up being a thorn in my side was where to put those stupid books. With the furniture set up in less than ideal patterns, none of the books, either those I was dead set on keeping or the tossers, seemed to fit. Even the keepers in the books shelves weren’t going in right!

Everything was getting to me.  So I told myself: Take a breath. Moving is hard. The books shelves went in a less than ideal spot but I did not want to pull the books down, again, dismantle the shelves, again, and move it all, again. So I separated the tossers into teetering columns and left them to be dealt with while the bedrooms were finalized.

When job hunting proved harder than I had anticipated and the rejections came rolling in, I decided it was time to attack the towers of books I had separated out. After I read a tosser, the privilege of putting it in the recycle bin fell to the hubby who was more than happy to throw those things out after having packed and moved all those books DITY a few times.

I was determined that no matter what jobs or volunteering cropped up, those books were not coming with us again unless I was absolutely going to reread them. Except  those recipe books, those are off limits!

Christina is a proud war bride, military “dependent,” writer,and volunteer. She met her husband while working two jobs and he stuck with the despite the long and crazy hours away from each other. And so began her experience with the military. Scrapping the wedding for a long and dangerous deployment, she fully embraced being a military spouse. Christina reaches out to all available networks to learn and take advantage of what the military has to offer its family.

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  • We had close to 30 boxes that were just books last time we moved! The movers unfortunately also destroyed every single one of our bookshelves, so we’re still waiting to unpack some of the boxes… but I have no intention of throwing any of them away! ;) I may be a bit of a hoarder (and we don’t plan to PCS again either, so that helps).

  • sabrinacking

    The last time we moved, we sold everything furniture, Knicks knacks….everything except our books. Throwing books out seems like a sacrilege to me. My family all have Readers at this point, I have both an IPad and a Sony Reader and I STILL prefer books. In fact, if any gazillionaire reads this FT Drum area is in need of a bookstore…there are none here. Two tiny used book stores and WalMart or Target sections…that’s it.

  • Tabitha
  • kla

    It was SO hard for me to get rid of my books, but the ones I actually re-read…well that was a small, sad number. I go through books like candy, so I still support the local library and have an online library set up I can check them out on my Ipad. I still love the feel of real books though.

    I do feel much lighter and it has made moving overseas SO much easier not to have to worry about the books (or continue to spend money on them). Now if anyone has suggestions on what to do with year books, im all ears!

  • Heather

    About 13 years or 9 moves ago we did just this, we tossed all of our books (except kids boks). I should say we donated them to the public library (whether they wanted a copy of The KamaSutra or not, they got it! lol). There were College text books, paperback, hard back, etc. I would venture to say we had several hundred lbs of books, I love books. But, I don’t love being a hoarder, nor do I like the allergies books tend to exacerbate as they age. So, off they went. I don’t miss them in the least. But, as for the kids books, I can’t seem to let them go as freely. We have one large bookshelf with pre-school through high school age books I think we will keep for our grandkids someday.

  • MsCamo

    About 10 years ago, I decided the books had to go, even the cookbooks. I had started collecting hard cover books and they were too heavy and I was too picky about their condition, I knew movers would not pack them right and the spines would be ruined or the corners dinged, AGH!! I offered them first to my family (also avid readers and book collectors) and the rest I sold or donated. My book collection has grown again, although mostly it is textbooks (and I can’t get rid of them, for work reasons), And I’ve found this great website called paperbackswap.com where you can send your books (hardcover, paperback, audio, it all works) to people who are wanting them. You get credits and can then request books that you are wanting to read. The only cost is the shipping to send your books out. But at least you know your books are getting reread. I also collect books now via my Kindle, so now if I want to reread that book I read eons ago, all I have to do is grab my Kindle. And I can take it on the plane and I never have to worry about my books being lost or ruined, I love it!

  • Monique

    Great article! Instead of purchasing books, I was the queen of collecting magazines from the Bookstore on base! LOL! Unfortunately, the time had come for me to get rid of ALL OF THEM. It was such a hassle to lug them around in every move. I always felt sorry for the movers when they would see nothing but 10 big size boxes (and heavy at that) to carry them into the house. Haha! Now magazine free, I too collect cookbooks. And yes, they are OFF LIMITS!!

  • Cheryl
  • guest

    I got a Kindle but I read too fast and found that I was changing the page too often and it wouldn’t keep up. Now I just use the library. I still have a lot of books but I donated a bunch, and it did help with the PCS. I found a used book store in Texas where we PCSed from, Half-Priced Books, that pays you for used ones- not a lot- but getting some money back was nice.