I was recently feeling ashamed of myself after reading Atwood's Programmers Don't Read Books... post for what he called Programming book pornography: "The idea that having a pile of thick, important-looking programming books sitting on your shelf, largely unread, will somehow make you a better programmer." To clarify, I actually do read the books I have bought but I'm guilty of keeping a full shelf for the sake of showing off my long and continuing struggle to be a good programmer.
One way I can soften this sort of conceit is by thinking of how I'm really proud and boastful of my friends in real life who do things that amaze me. I'm not shy to boast on their behalf. In the same way a lot of these old books are like old friends that have seen me through some pretty turbulent times. I carried Francesco Balena's Programming Visual Basic 6.0 around for years when I was training people on VB6, COM, and ASP. Another set of heavy books I spent many a quality night in a hotel room with were Gary Cornell's Core Java and Core Java Advanced Features. I don't have a formal computer science education but I consider a large part of my education the 7 or so years I spent on the road, in various hotel rooms, reading and practicing what I needed to know.
If truth be told there are a few there that I didn't get much out of. I never did run Slashcode and I never did more than tinker with Bryce. But I'm not ashamed to say that I had hopes of doing so that time supplanted with other things.
I packed them away and made room for some of the books I have piled on top of the shelves. Since I don't travel much and remain in project mode I'm not as efficient about reading what I have but a smaller shelf is more tidy and palatable. I won't wait so long before my next big cleanup.
So the big question: what to do with these books?