Thursday, August 13, 2015

Discussion: Book Unhauls

A couple of nights ago, I found myself watching several "book unhaul" videos on Youtube. If you don't follow booktube and are unfamiliar with the concept, this is a video in which the booktuber shows us all the books that they have decided to get rid of, and tells us their reasons for doing so.

Sometimes I enjoy these videos, but more often than not, I just find myself feeling irritated and irrationally angry. It's happened enough that I decided to write a discussion post to share my feelings with you all, and find out if anyone else feels the way I do!

Getting Rid of Books

Obviously, there is absolutely nothing wrong with getting rid of books. Just yesterday on Twitter, I saw Alexa's post at Alexa Loves Books about what she does with books she's culled. (I love her terminology.) I encourage you all to go check it out HERE; it's a great resource if you're not sure what to do with books you don't want/need anymore! 

Almost everyone unhauls books, including me! In fact, I took two recyclable bags full of books to Half Price Books today and sold them for store credit. I was able to turn around and buy two more books that I am much more excited about. But honestly, it doesn't happen very often; even when there are books I wouldn't mind getting rid of, my mom might like them more than I do, so we keep them around her house so when I move out, she'll still have books on her shelves. 

So the problem I have with book unhaul videos isn't the act of getting rid of books. That's part of life. My main problem/question is this: Why do you feel the need to show us all these books you don't want anymore? Most of the time, it doesn't seem entertaining; it just feels overwhelmingly negative.

But, if for some reason, you feel the all-consuming urge to tell us what books you're saying goodbye to, at least tell us why you're getting rid of them. Though that doesn't always exempt you from getting on my nerves...


The following is a list of reasons or excuses for getting rid of books in a book unhaul, in order from understandable to drives-me-nuts. I have actually heard every single one of these in at least one video, usually more. 

1. "I didn't love/disliked/hated this book."

First reaction: Get rid of it!

By all means, you are under no obligations to keep a book you didn't like, so away it goes! If you've reviewed the book, link the review in the description. It's a great way to find viewers with similar opinions to yours! This is easily the most understandable reason for getting rid of a book. Unfortunately, it's also the least common reason I hear...

2. "I just have no interest in reading this book." 

First reaction: Then why did you buy it?

However, there may be an understandable reason for this, too. 

People talk a lot about the "booktube binge," or that period at the beginning of your booktube channel when you feel like you need to buy a bunch of books just because they're being hyped on someone else's channel. The result? You end up with a ton of books that maybe you thought you should read, but that don't actually appeal to you that much. If that's the case, please get rid of it! Clear room on your shelves for books you actually care about. But tell us about it because chances are, some of your viewers may be in similar situations, and this could stimulate a new discussion! It also helps to show new booktubers what not to do.

Also, for those of you considering starting booktube, but are worried about spending money: you do you. If you are fortunate enough to have the money to spend on however many books you want, then go for it. Don't feel guilty about it! If you don't want to buy a bunch of books, then don't do it! Booktube is what you make it; as long as you're talking about books and having a good time, that's all that matters. Read books you own. Utilize the library. Borrow books from friends. You don't have to spend a bunch of money on books just to create content for your channel. Be creative!

3. "I've heard so many negative reviews that I'm not interested anymore." 

First reaction: Don't be a follower!

In our world, it's unavoidable; reviews and opinions are everywhere! It's hard not to let other people's opinions influence our own. Even if we are trying to avoid them, we will see reviews (negative or positive) on books, music or movies before we experience them ourselves. But can you honestly tell me that there's never been something that you heard bad things about, but you ended up loving? I'm positive that everyone has that movie that has great reviews and an amazing score on Rotten Tomatoes, but you just didn't like at all. 

So why wouldn't books be the same? There are series or books that everyone else seems to love, but that I just don't care about, and vice versa. When you listen to other people's reviews of a book and let them color your own interest, pretty soon there's no diversity in what people are reading. The only books getting talked about are the same books everyone loves, and that gets boring. So if you want to read something, if something interests you, then go for it! Form your own opinion and don't be afraid to express it. Differences in opinions is what makes the bookish community so fantastic, because we can disagree on things and be respectful about it.

Short version: read what you want to read, not what others tell you to read. 

4. "It's a big book, and I don't want to spend that much time on it."

First reaction: Again...why did you buy it?

Similarly to above, why did you buy it in the first place? One booktuber even prefaced this statement with, "This sounds really interesting and a lot of people love it, but..." If a book is entertaining, if the writing is beautiful, then even a thousand-page book might go by quickly. You can't judge a book by its length. But even if it takes you a while to get through, what's the problem with that? If you're worried about your Goodreads challenge, or reading enough books in a month, then maybe you're not reading for the right reasons. We read because we love reading, because we are book lovers. Because we enjoy a great story. When it becomes about the number of books read, or how fast we read something, we're losing something. 

Also (and this is a personal, petty thing), if you can read an 800-page Mortal Instruments book, please don't complain about a 500-page book because its's a "big book." 

5. "It's an adult book, so maybe I'll read this when I'm older, but right now I'm not interested."

First reaction (say it with me): WHY did you buy it, then?

That aside, let's leave "age" designations out of things. There are so many "journalists" out there writing disparaging articles about young adult fiction. It seems like every other week, there's another burst of outrage on Twitter at these articles. These writers judge the entire category based on a few examples that have entered the mainstream. They make vague assumptions about genres without reading the books themselves, or doing the proper research. They insinuate that people who are reading YA, no matter their age, are doing themselves a disservice by reading stories that are "uncomplicated and not complex" instead of "adult" novels with "literary value." Which is all complete crap. 

We hate it when we're judged for predilections for young adult literature, so why do we have to do the reverse? Just because a book isn't YA, that doesn't mean we won't enjoy it. YA readers are not an unintelligent group; we can read whatever we want to read. If the concept of a book sounds at all interesting to you, then go for it! Break outside your comfort zone and give something a chance. You might discover a new favorite. I read almost exclusively YA, but if I hadn't given the adult genre a chance, I never would have discovered The Night Circus, which I absolutely loved. 

Also, isn't it just a huge waste of money to get rid of something you think you might buy again in the future? You're just setting yourself up to spend money on the same book twice, which makes zero sense.

What about me?

As I said before, I don't get rid of books very often, but I do have several books to get rid of right now. So why do I get rid of books? 

1. I have read them already and not liked them OR enjoyed them, but will probably never reread them or they're not a genre I want to collect anymore.

This is the case with most of my unhaul books. They include things like the Au Pairs series by Melissa de la Cruz, the Luxe series by Anna Godbersen, and several books by Ellen Hopkins. I've read all of these books and enjoyed them, but I don't see myself keeping them around for my collection. I may still read Ellen Hopkins in the future, but I don't necessarily want to buy them anymore. 

I'm also unhauling Struck by Jennifer Bosworth because it was one of the few books in the last year that I had to really struggle to get through. 

2. I have duplicate copies.

I already owned copies of Peter Pan by J.M. Barrie and Dracula by Bram Stoker, but I bought the much prettier Word Cloud classic editions recently, so I'm selling the old ones that I bought years ago.

So what now?

I hope for the booktube community (and the bookish community in general) to be full of positivity and support and a lot of fun. Based on what I've observed from book unhauls, they usually don't fit that criteria, especially when people are unhauling books they've never read. They are usually very impulsive videos and lack thought and entertainment value, in my opinion. 

Personally, I probably won't be watching very many unhaul videos in the future. I will stick to watching well-planned reviews, fun book tags and challenges, and book hauls so I can get ideas for my next trip to the bookstore!

Tell me: what do YOU think of book unhaul videos? Do you get rid of books? If so, what are your reasons? Do you agree or disagree with the above reasons? Start a discussion and let me know in the comments below!

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