After many years of living in the same sprawling four bedroom (plus) house, our circumstances changed, and now we are ensconced (more or less) in a lovely two bedroom condo. I say "more or less" because having just moved, we are still unpacking boxes and running back and forth to the storage unit where much of our old life remains.
The irony is we have pretty much all that life requires right now. We don't truly need the other forty or fifty boxes of ancestral China; we can do without the giant buffet and the vases and paintings and floral bath mats, not to mention the books. I bring up the subject of books with some trepidation because, like everyone else in the world, we have read almost all of them and, next to our children, still think of them as bosom companions. Also, being in the book biz of course, you might imagine that I'd be the very last one to advocate getting rid of books. Moving a whole household can have an enormous impact on one's perspective, however, not to mention one's shoulders and back.
I now think that I probably need no more than one tall bookcase for the rest of my days. I say this knowing my wife will vehemently disagree, also sensing that one bookcase is just a ballpark figure. Given the ongoing outpouring of wonderful literature I could be wrong; maybe two bookcases would suffice.
Of course, I also have a slight advantage in this matter: owning a bookstore means you never have to keep a specific book in your house. You can always get a copy pretty quickly and at cost. This is the argument I'm going to make when we get down to the nitty gritty and start unpacking all those well worn volumes. I don't know if it'll fly; in our old house we had so many stacks of books they sometimes served as structural supports for the living room ceiling. But I'll tell my wife this new ceiling we have is just fine, that the books are not necessary, that change is what keeps us fresh and alive, that less is more. She used to be a Buddhist as I recall. Maybe she'll buy that.