The Next Chapter

Candy Palmater culled 1,500 books from her personal library — and lived to tell the tale

The comedian and broadcaster spoke with Shelagh Rogers about why she downsized her prized personal library collection.
Candy Palmater is a comedian, media personality and columnist. (CBC/Sinisa Jolic)

Candy Palmater is a huge reader and book lover. But when her personal library of books in her Toronto home grew to an unwieldy number of titles, she knew something had to give.

The comedian, broadcaster and columnist spoke with Shelagh Rogers about culling 1,500 books from her collection, and how she did it.

Too many books

"Last year, I culled a bunch of books from my collection. They were books that I had already read but that I was holding on to. So I let them go. Then Denise, my wife came to me about two months ago, and she said, 'I've got a math calculation to show you.' 

"I said, 'What's that?' 

It got serious. I had to start actually deciding what I am going to keep? What am I going to let go?

"She said, 'Well, you're 52. Let's assume you have 30 years left of good reading. You read about 52 books a year. So that means you've probably got enough time to read 1,600 more books before you die.' 

"She said, 'I think you have to let some books go.' 

"We started by agreeing on a number. We said, 'OK, we will let 1,500 books go.' 

"It got serious. I had to start deciding what I am going to keep? What am I going to let go?" 

Comedian and broadcaster Candy Palmater's book collection numbered in the thousands. (Submitted by Candy Palmater)

Real versus fantasy

"I have what I guess you could call a philosophy. It's called 'Real Me versus Fantasy Me.'

"When I was going through the books, I was asking myself, 'Now, did I buy these for Real Me or for Fantasy Me?' And that helped. 

"About 10 years ago, I read David McCullough's biography on John Adams and I enjoyed it. If I find a book I like by an author, I instantly go out and buy everything they wrote. I assume I'm going to read it. 

When I was going through the books, I was asking myself, 'Now, did I buy these for Real Me or for Fantasy Me?' And that helped. ​​​​​​

"If you've ever seen a David McCullough book, they're excellent door stops. They weigh 50 pounds apiece. They're mammoths.

"I had a stack of David McCullough books on U.S. presidents that don't give a snap about. I'm pretty sure that was for Fantasy Me. I had to let those go."

Comedian and broadcaster Candy Palmater's culled 1,500 books from her personal library. (Submitted by Candy Palmater)

An eclectic collection of books

"It was a very eclectic collection. For instance, all the books I had on how to do good cross stitch. Considering I've never cross stitched, I decided to let those go. I don't think I'm going to cross stitch in the next ten years! So, I'll buy them again if I need it down the road.

It was a very eclectic collection. For instance, all the books I had on how to do good cross stitch.

"I'm not going to get to all those John Grisham books either. I had every John Grisham book that had ever been published, and I think I stopped reading them about ten books ago. It doesn't make sense to keep that."

Candy Palmater's comments have been edited for length and clarity.

Add some “good” to your morning and evening.

A variety of newsletters you'll love, delivered straight to you.

Sign up now

now