I recently moved into a new house. One of the things about moving home is it suddenly becomes apparent how much stuff one owns. More to the point it becomes apparent how much stuff one owns that one doesn’t really need.
In my case a lot of that excess stuff was books. I’ve always had an attraction to the idea of a well stocked home library. Because of that books once read were very rarely discarded. When it came time to move though I realised that many of those books were ones I was highly unlikely to ever wish to read again. My shelves were in part a collection of books I wanted to read or reread, but also of books I’d read but wouldn’t return to and books that once appealed but that no longer do.
Like many book bloggers the problem was worsened by the fact that I was buying books faster than I was reading them. My blogging statistics have shown me that on average I read about a book a week. That’s not nearly as many as most bloggers I suspect, but work commitments limit how much free reading time I have.
An average of a book a week means that if I buy more than four books in a month I end that month with more books unread than I started it with. That’s no longer really acceptable to me. It’s a waste of money, but more importantly it means my home is clogged with unread books which isn’t really how I want to live any more.
In recent months I’ve been trying to buy less and read more of what I already have. On top of that I’ve now been thinking about my personal canon posts. Working on the second one has brought the issue of which books I want to read even more into focus.
All this got rather broken this February though. Penguin released its pocket book series and I picked up several of them. With those and a few purchases inspired by other blogs my list of purchases for February was as follows:
Ports of Call by Amin Maalouf
Chess by Stefan Zweig
The Last Demon by Isaac Singer
La Grosse Fifi by Jean Rhys
Flypaper by Robert Musil
The Sexes by Dorothy Parker
Short Treatise on the Joys of Morphinism by Hans Fallada
A Life by Italo Svevo
Quilt by Nicholas Royle
Metamorphosis and Other Stories by Franz Kafka
9tailfox by Jon Courtenay Grimwood
Atlas of Remote Islands by Judith Schalansky
The first six there are Penguin shorts but even so that’s a lot of books. From and including this month therefore I have a new rule. No books come in unless in the same month I’ve read or discarded at least an equal number of books. That still means the overall number on my shelves could increase but increasingly I don’t keep books I’ve read unless they particularly stand out so it should see a stop to the bloating of my library.
Books read on the Kindle don’t count for the purposes of this rule.
I thought I’d mention this partly as others may have their own ways of balancing books desired with books one has time to read and partly because my personal canon posts got me thinking more about the issue. I don’t intend to start doing posts which aren’t connected to a specific book as a regular feature, but since V is taking a while (a rewarding while) there seemed no harm in a more general post for the time being.