My husband and I are both book-o-philes, and have been collecting books since we each could read, a process that took a leap forward by the time either of us had enough money to walk into the used bookstores proliferating in most university towns.
We have over the years given away boxes and bags full of books by consoling ourselves that someone else could benefit from their riches. Even still, we have something like 200 running feet of bookshelves crammed with books.
Given our ages, and the likelihood that we are not going to read most of these books again, we have been giving some consideration to those who will have to deal with what we leave behind. Disposing of our books is a complicated business, not only because there are so many but because some are valuable, some are keepsakes, some are dated.
We have been anguished, though, to discover that along with the old travel books, our encyclopedias are unwanted. We have 50 volumes of the Encyclopedia Britannica and the Social Sciences that nobody wants. In my experience, the Oxfam book store will take almost anything with print on the pages, but before lugging the books over there, I phoned and asked if they could use them. They offered to let us use their recycling bin. Two other book collectors gave us similar answers.
So I am, volume by volume, ripping them up. They will go into our green bin to begin a new life as garden compost.
I know this is a process fundamental to the entire universe. Nothing stays the same. Everyone and everything keeps becoming. Identity is never permanent.
Nonetheless, I think I find it easier to think about my own composting future than I am finding destroying these books. Each page I rip out feels like a blasphemy.