free offer while it lasts! (no, don’t put me in the spam filter)

Rarely am I ever accused of doing something early. But last week, in some kind of cosmic accident, I did. I celebrated a holiday too early. It really wasn’t my fault. Blame middle child again. It was her idea to play switcheroo with all the furniture. I came home one day, and the dining room table was by the computer in the living room and the couch and recliner in the erstwhile dining room. For over a month, we didn’t know what to call either room. We settled on “the computer room” and “the piano room.” I do not know how she wrestled a six-foot dining table through a two-foot space alone. I did not choose to ask. As long as walls and floors remained unscathed, I prefer to remain blissfully ignorant.

Two months later, we switched back, on account of no one wanted to watch the Olympics sitting in hard-backed dining room chairs. (We couldn’t move the TV.) At which point, she decided we needed to move the six-foot bookshelf. It seemed eminently sensible then to organize and cull our reading material. This is no task for the faint-hearted. We have, at last count, eleven bookshelves in our home, plus a cabinet of cookbooks and various boxes of books in the attic and basement. We just can ‘t seem to let go of these. We really might need Aboriginal Societies of Central and South America some day. Like, when we move to Venezuela.

Thus it was, I had been celebrating National Clean Off Your Bookshelf Day for a week before it occurred. Yes, it took a week, and I am not done. But now, there is an entire shelf of all of our gardening books. We gave away half a shelf. Ditto for craft books. The writing shelf, reference shelf, entire literature bookcases, 4H project shelf, travel shelf, and –you get the drift. Also, the entire shelf devoted to library books, created years ago when I got very tired of losing books in children’s rooms and not unearthing them until we owed roughly the equivalent of the national debt of Zimbabwe.

it’s hard to let go of a book. But do we really need four books on African violets (which we do not have) or a 1993 Book of World Facts? Entire countries have come and gone since then. So now, in honor of National Clean Off Your Bookshelf Day, perhaps a free will offering is in order. To the first persons to respond, or maybe the best impassioned plea, I will send:

More incredibly Awesome Crafts for Kids. Geared toward kids younger than my own, but full of fun stuff.

The 2009 Christian Writer’s Market Guide
. In pristine condition, because I spent the last year working on book proposals and travel writing and therefore rarely used it.

They’re yours, free, because a good book needs to be shared.

If you are inspired by National Clean Off Your Bookshelf Day, remember to bless others with the gift of a book. It was a gift to you to be able to enjoy it. If you know you are finished, let it go and pass on the gift. I once had a woman on an airplane offer me the novel she had just finished reading, telling me, “I can see that you are a reader, too. Please take this and enjoy it.” No, it was not authored by L. Ron Hubbard. It was simply a gesture of goodwill toward a fellow lover of words.

You probably have an organization in your area that would be happy to take children’s books off your hands for those who cannot buy them. Think of the joy it gave your kids–and imagine what it would be like never to have such a wonderful thing as a book of your own.

At least then, when your kids want to rearrange the house, the shelves won’t be so heavy.

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