Thoughtful Thursday is a weekly meme from Reading is Fun Again.

What do you do with the books that you have read? Do you keep them? Donate them? Gift them? Return them to the library? Throw them away? Make them into arts & crafts projects? Has this changed during the years? Have you noticed a change in your perspective regarding read books?

To explain what I do with books that I've read, first I should explain how I get them. There are two primary ways.

Method #1: Library Books

I'm a huge fan of the library. I was raised that way. My family has always been some degree of poor-to-middling, financially, and buying books was a luxury. But I was always drowning in more books than I could ever hope to read anyway; I'm lucky to have grown up in an area with a well-stocked library system and, since sometime in the late nineties or early two-thousands, a reasonably efficient website. So buying books never really became part of my reading lifestyle, especially since the nearest Barnes and Noble, Borders, and/or Books-a-Million was almost forty minutes away. (We do have a secondhand bookstore, but it's grown increasingly snobbish and overpriced in recent years, and I no longer shop there.)

Nowadays, then, most of my reading is of library materials--mostly physical books, though I started patronizing their new e-catalog last year or so. So most of the books that I finish reading--and a shameful amount of books that I checked out and never got around to reading at all--are simply returned to the library at the end of the check-out period.

Method #2: Secondhand Books

Until recent years, my family and I only bought books we was dying to have, with very few exceptions. Baby-sitters Club, Dr. Seuss, Harry Potter, etcetera--books and series that I was a die-hard fan of at the time of purchase or books that my mother bought with the intention to pass them on to her hypothetical grandchildren some day. Then we started visiting two slightly less local libraries, both in towns adjacent to mine, but a bit out of the way of my normal routine. Both of these libraries have deals on books that are discarded from the system and/or donated by patrons; I can fill an entire canvas bag up for two dollars. It used to be $1, but they raised the price last year; I'm hoping they don't do it again, or else I might have to rethink my spending habits... because this is the one area I genuinely splurge. Books range from excellent condition to slight wear to significant wear, but it's given me the opportunity to own a lot of books I never would have bothered reading otherwise. The majority of space in my room is currently devoted to these secondhand books, and I'm very slowly making my way through them.

But since these are books that I'm taking a chance with--some are beloved favorites that I happened to find copies of, but many are relatively or completely unknown titles that looked interesting--I have no interest in keeping many of them once I've read them. Some are books that I genuinely hated or just didn't enjoy, so of course they have to go. Others are books that were enjoyable, but that I likely won't be reading again. And some are simply books that I simply lost interest in ever reading. All of these books end up in my "to get rid of" box. (Books that don't are either new favorites, series I'm collecting, or books so obscure that I expect I won't be able to find another copy of if I want to someday reread.)

For a while, the "to get rid of" box was a book purgatory. I genuinely had no idea what to do with these books. When I was younger, my mother donated a lot of books to a local thrift store, but that's long gone. I contemplated eBay, but I honestly don't like the format or the risks of working with Paypal. So I was at a loss for a while.

Now, though, there's a new thrift store in town. It's the place I go to get rid of my books, and I have no qualms about taking a bit of a loss on them, because the loss is so terribly small. At a dollar per bag, I'm getting used books at ten to fifteen cents a pop, so refusing to donate in hopes of greater compensation is a waste of my time and space--not to mention rather amusingly greedy.

Fortunately--or unfortunately, if you consider how little space I have left for new books!--that thrift store is also a great, rather cheap place to get used books, too!

I'm definitely still keeping my eyes open for another way to dispose of books I no longer want to keep, but for now, donating is totally working for me. At the very least, my current methods are supporting both my local libraries and the charity organization that runs the thrift store, so there's certainly no harm in that.