I would be ashamed of a book whose spine was not broken

I Murdered My Library, by Linda Grant

Books breed. You start with a handful, a few shelves as a kid perhaps, but pretty soon you’re graduating to a bookcase. From there, another bookcase. Then another.

Soon you haven’t space for any more bookcases, so you start looking to see how you can fit in more books with the ones you have. You stack books sideways in front of the already-shelved books or on top of them. Perhaps you double-layer, though then how do you see what’s behind the front row?

Piles of books start to emerge, perhaps a reading pile near the bed, a few dotted around the living room, if you run to having books in the bathroom (I don’t) they start to gather there too. Books accumulate on tables, on chairs, under beds and on slow moving pets.

Eventually it comes time to move, hopefully to a bigger house. You stop flatsharing, move in with someone, maybe have a family. With more space comes more room for more bookshelves. Removal men curse your name and stick pins in voodoo dolls fashioned in your image.

Perhaps you dream of one day having a room solely dedicated to books. Unless you’re very, very rich it’s unlikely you’ll ever afford it though (perhaps in North America, they have more space there), and the genuinely rich tend not to be readers. Anyway, even if you did the books would still keep breeding.

If your partner’s also a reader, the books breed even faster. If they’re not, they’ll occasionally try to set rules about no books in certain rooms, no new books if there’s not space for the old ones, ask whether you really need all these books. Whatever they try it’s a losing effort on their part. Books will be smuggled in, shamefully squirrelled away where they might not be spotted. Contraband.

For some readers every book read bears their mark. Stained covers, scribbled notes in the margins, shattered spines and folded down corners. For others all that is blasphemy, every book treated so gently that visitors can’t tell which have been read and which not (that’s where I sit, Linda Grant as the quote titling this piece suggests, is in the other camp).

What happens though if you finally run out of space? What if you move and instead of going somewhere bigger, you go somewhere smaller? That’s what happened to Linda Grant. After 19 years living in a large flat crammed with books it came time to move, and there just wasn’t space in her new place for all her books, a lifetime’s reading, to go with her.

A book cull. It seems a suitable thing to blog about as we come up to Halloween, the season of horror.

GrantLibrary

Grant opens by describing her old flat, the shelves she had built for it, the nooks and crannies it held where books could be. However many shelves she had built though, there were still never enough:

The books in alphabetical rows were overgrown by piles of new books, doubled in front. Books multiplied, books swarmed, books, I sometimes dreamt, seemed to reproduce themselves – they were a papery population explosion. When they had exhausted the shelves, they started to take over the stairs; I had to vacuum round them. You cannot have a taste for minimalist décor if you seriously read books.

Unfortunately I do have a taste for minimalist décor, but she’s right, I’ve never achieved it because I’ve always had too many books.

So Grant had to do the unthinkable. She had to get rid of most of her books, thousands of them. She had to decide which would go with her, and which would not. In doing so, as any reader knows, she’s doing more than making some choices about mere property, she’s making choices about herself: who she is; how she connects to who she was; who she wants to be.

It is more than 50 years since I began to build my library, from its earliest foundations in the elementary sentence construction of Enid Blyton. Now at least half of the thousands of books I have bought are gone. It is one of the worst things I have ever done. I hate myself. But not as much as I have come to hate the books.

When I last moved I had to do something similar myself. We were paying for removal men, and even though we were moving to a larger place we wanted a chance of having it be a place we could enjoy, relax in, not a library with humans and cats moving carefully between the shelves. I found what Linda Grant found, it’s not actually as easy as you’d think to get rid of books.

Many charity shops don’t take books at all, those that do pulp most of those they take (a dirty secret of the charity industry, but most books have no resale value, particularly the more literary ones). Libraries aren’t as keen to get other people’s castoffs as you might think. If your friends are readers they probably already have too many books themselves, if they’re not they’re unlikely to want to give a home to what to them is a large pile of unsightly clutter.

If you’re getting rid of a few books none of this is insurmountable. Homes can be found, and Linda Grant does get a good few to where they might be read. If you’re getting rid of hundreds though as I was, or thousands as Linda Grant was, well, sooner or later you’re going to find yourself throwing books in the rubbish. Not just a few books either, and not just bad books, you’re going to be throwing good books away by the yard.

The process starts with care, with an assessment of merit and emotional connection. If you’re discarding in bulk though you really can’t keep that up, and besides sentiment leads you to spare too many. As Linda Grant says, “After a couple of hours, the process of deciding literary merit speeds up considerably.” In my own cull’s first hour I got through a handful of books, saving almost all of them. Three hours in and a second’s consideration was more than adequate.

It’s not a light thing to destroy books, particularly if you’re a reader, someone for whom they’ve been essential your entire remembered life (as Grant says, and I could say it myself, “Reading wasn’t my religion – it was my oxygen”). You literally though can’t give most of them away. Your books are priceless, but at the same time quite without value.

Who destroys books? Cities, churches, dictators and fanatics. Their fingers itch to build a pyre and strike the match. On 10 May 1933, students gathered in Berlin to dance around a bonfire of 25,000 volumes of ‘un-German’ books. They burned, amongst many others, Bertolt Brecht, Otto Dix, Heinrich Heine, Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce and H.G. Wells. They destroyed them because the contents were too dangerous. Now, in an apartment on the Mediterranean, the same authors were being dumped because no-one wanted to read them. They are the detritus not just of the digital revolution but also of disposable living and small houses. And I too have committed murder in my library. I have killed my books.

Grant goes on to discuss wider themes, about how books fit into our lives as readers, and how they don’t for people who aren’t readers. If you’ve ever watched one of those tv shows where smiling experts help people buy or sell homes, it’s noticeable that there’s never any books. When Grant went to look at flats, particularly those being sold by younger people, they too largely seemed to be book-free:

Sometimes the alcoves were lined with shelves but they didn’t hold any books – they were for DVDs. The shelves pronounced taste, as my student bookshelves had pronounced a counter-cultural identity, but taste in interior décor and dinner. And I knew this because when the estate agent came to look at my flat, he winced when he saw all those books. What did he see? Clutter. Estate agents do not think that books furnish a room – books make rooms look messy. Books’ multi-coloured spines muddle and muddy the Farrow & Ball neutral paint colours, the Ammonite and Hardwick White and Savage Ground. They completely destroy the impact of the accent wall.

Estate agents advise her that books put off potential buyers. Grant’s cull begins long before her move as if she hopes to sell she can’t have a home overrun with books.

What then is the value of books? Particularly books we’ve already read? For us as readers (as Grant discusses) they are perhaps reminders of past pleasures, statements (to whom? to ourselves?) of who we are or mementos of who we once were (my own purge included a lot of SF I’d carefully accumulated over years, before my tastes shifted). They hold the promise of the possibility of revisiting an old literary friend or pleasures yet to be had if a book’s still unread.

They can also seem to be legacies, future gifts of knowledge and experience. Grant, like many, thought that perhaps in time she’d pass them on to the next generation, but really why would they want them? You see the same with people with carefully curated record or CD collections, is it really likely their children will want a lifetime’s accumulation of recordings by artists most of whom they’ve probably never even heard of?

My nephew’s wife took a suitcase full of the fashion monographs, but nothing else tempted them. The idea that I was building a library to bequeath to the next generation is one of the greatest fallacies of my life. The next generation don’t want old books – they don’t seem to want books at all. This is very painful to me.

The desire to pass on our library, our albums, our pottery collection or antique furniture or whatever possession we most prize is in part a desire not to die. It’s a bit of us continuing, our tastes, our memory brought to mind each time the imagined grateful recipients pull a book off the shelf or put a CD on (on what? It’s likely they won’t even have the technology to play them).

The reality though is that when we die our treasured possessions will at best be sold for whatever cash value they have, at worst will be a tedious and possibly upsetting chore for whoever has to sort through them all and put them in sacks for disposal. Grant touches on all of this, how in holding on to our books we hold on to our lives, how in getting rid of them we have to recognise our own mortality.

Grant also explores how her relationship with books and the wider world of books has changed. In the UK the loss of the Net Book Agreement led to deep discounting by chains such as Waterstones, who in turn were hit by even deeper discounting by the supermarkets, the charity bookshops and Amazon. Then came ereaders, at first poor substitutes for real books in terms of their reading experience, but increasingly as good if not better than their physical counterparts. A while back I bought Earthly Powers in hardcopy. The font was so small I couldn’t comfortably read it. Now I have it on Kindle, where I can increase the font size as needed. What use a book you can’t read?

Grant’s experience with Kindles is strangely similar to my own (making hers ironically a book “relevant to my personal experience”, a reader metric she rightly hates). Her first purchase is even one of the first I bought (Galgut’s In a Strange Room, though I’ve yet to read my copy). I love books, but wherever I can I get them now on Kindle. It means they’re always with me, and I won’t have to pay anyone to carry them next time I move. Besides, I buy a lot of books, I prefer independent bookshops as much as the next reader but ebooks are cheaper and don’t take up any space, like so many others I want the independent bookshops to survive but I can’t sensibly justify how much more it would cost me to make all my purchases at them or really the extra time it would take to get to one of the surviving stores (none are anywhere near where I live).

I Murdered My Library is, fittingly, available only on Kindle. It is, as you would expect, extremely well written and since anyone reading this is pretty much by definition a reader it’s a book that I think will resonate with you. It’s only around 28 pages, and sells at 0.99p, cheaper than a cup of coffee which as Grant notes is the price-point readers seem to expect of electronic books.

I’ll end with one final quote, one that I liked too much not to include somewhere:

I threw one box in the recycling bin. I’m going to hell, a hell in which eternity is a Kindle with a dead battery.

If you are interested in this, there’s a lengthy extract at the Guardian, here, which gives a good feel for the style.

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32 Comments

Filed under Essays, Grant, Linda

32 responses to “I would be ashamed of a book whose spine was not broken

  1. I’ve been going through this experience recently, disposing of another person’s book collection. The only thing that really makes me want to keep a book is if someone has written a dedication inside. Seeing the handwriting and the date immediately takes you back in time. People don’t seem to do that any more.
    I use ereaders all the time because I don’t have space in my flat for real books, but it feels sad to me that just as the physical design of hard copy books reaches their apogee, they’re going out of fashion fast.

  2. Excellent stuff, and such a high recognition factor that it went up to eleven. Your first cull made me laugh and groan simultaneously – I did the same thing, saved all but a handful. Then the horrifying ruthlessness kicked in and I became almost gleeful about daring to off a beloved Penguin, just to raise the bin bar. I even ended up going out to the blue bin in the rainy dark and picking one to save and all kinds of similar sorry nonsense. But I felt a hell of a lot better once I’d trimmed hundreds.

    I’ve got a ‘one in, one out’ policy now…which I completely ignore.

    How do books diminish potential buyer attractiveness, by the way?

  3. Alastair, I don’t tend to have written dedications in my books (if I go to signings I generally don’t have the author sign my copy even) but I can see how that would work. Ereaders of course mean foregoing that. Like all technologies, they have their advantages but not without any costs.

    Lee, yes, exactly, and I have the same policy which I vaguely follow.

    In terms of attractiveness, think about them as if you didn’t enjoy reading them. Row after row, pile after pile, of differently sized and differently coloured lumps of slowly yellowing paper. From that perspective they’re horribly unsightly. They soak up light, take up space and they don’t match any sensible colour scheme or decorative concept. It’s alien to us, but if you’re not a reader they’re just an awful lot of pointless clutter. They make it harder to visualise how the space might be used, since it’s already so very much used by all this stuff already there. That’s how. Odd to us, but I think it’s true all the same.

  4. That’s just weird. They’re surely more becoming than any furniture embellishment? Maybe not, then, to those peculiar ‘non readers.’…

  5. This is a dilemma I’m facing. I have a dedicated book room full of shelves, but the shelves recently collapsed under the weight. I’ve had to place the books in boxes as I’m not ready to throw any out yet, but I have culled a pathetically few and donated them to a local book sale group.

    I have this e-book on my kindle TBR so it’s good to know you liked it. I saw the title and thought I’d better read it.

  6. Guy – the same thing happened to me a while ago in another house: slight curves gradually became noticeable slumps…until one day, the whole thing went a-toppling. Misjudged the crap bookcase obviously but, more so, went into denial about my ‘book problem’ until I was fishing copies of things like At Swim Two Birds out from underneath a chair etc etc.

    One excellent way of clearing book space – simply pile them up in your wardrobe behind that long jacket. Takes care of a surprising number that you can just forget about, without having to regret their expulsion.

  7. It probably depends a bit on the books Lee. In Linda’s case some of them had clearly been in her possession for literally decades, and she’s one of the tribe who when they’ve read a book you can see they’ve read it.

    So, shelf after shelf of tattered and ancient books, higgledy-piggledy and in odd colours and sizes. I don’t see it, but at the same time I can sort of see it if I try.

    Guy, perhaps if you haven’t touched a box in say six months it can just go straight to charity/rubbish/whatever?

    Lee, that way lies appearing on a reality tv show about hoarders. “After the break, let’s see what Lee has in his cupboards…”

  8. Max: the contents of my cupboards regularly drew gasps. From me as much as anything. The books are now in countless plastic containers, the vast majority – those I didn’t give to charity shops/trade-in/sell/stack in blue bins. My wife suggested counselling – genuinely. It became a real problem. But a good problem, I like to think.

  9. Wonderful post, Max! Loved it! I think any book lover would be able to identify with what you have written and with what Linda Grant has said in her book. I have been contemplating culling books from my collection, but I keep postponing that. It is heartbreaking to ‘murder’ one’s library. Have you read Anne Fadiman’s essay ‘Never Do That to a Book’ and the other essays in her collection ‘Ex Libris’? If you haven’t, I would highly recommend it. I think you will like it.

  10. I look forward to seeing you on a forthcoming Channel 4 documentary Lee. Do you know what’s in the containers? I slightly wonder what the point of keeping something is if you can’t easily access it (a point Linda makes in the essay in fact).

    Vishy, thanks, it is heartbreaking I agree, at first anyway. I haven’t read that essay, or even heard of it. I’ll look it out, thanks.

  11. I do in the main…but isn’t there something to be said for having a delve now and then and plucking a forgotten gem? Liking having a semi-mystery library within walking distance minus lots of terrible books in the mix.

  12. leroyhunter

    I think I need a lie down after reading this.

    I have the single – I don’t own a Kindle, but have the app on my phone – and it sounds great. Spot on about how readers (hoarders) delude themselves about charity shops, libraries etc as “safe” disposal mechanisms.

  13. The delve sounds fun I admit.

    Leroy, too traumatic a concept? It is a good essay. She touches herself on her own desire not to think too closely what happened to the books she got off to Oxfam, she’s aware that many were likely pulped. What do libraries do with excess stock? Some gets sold, some given away perhaps, but most there too I suspect ends up in the bin.

    The truth is most books are commodity items. Not the information within them, but the book itself. Unless it’s a rare edition with any given book it’s probably one of thousands of identical copies. That was part of what Jeff Bezos realised back in the day, strip away the mystique and books are a commodity and can be treated as such.

    The impact of that is if you throw out your Galgut, your Woolf, your Gibson or whoever there are tons more where that came from. It’s not lost to the world, nobody will struggle to get it because you discarded it.

    Of course, all that is rational, and nobody (me included) who posts or comments on a blog like this could ever be entirely rational about books. They’re too much part of who we are.

  14. I am one of those “lucky” North Americans with lots of room for shelf space — about 250 to 300 feet worth of shelving in the basement and half of that again on our main floor. If you think that reduces the need for clear out, think again — once the available space is full (regardless of how much that is) everybody is in the same “too many books” mode.
    So I very much enjoyed both the post and ensuing discussion. I wish I had something to contribute — three years ago, we sent about a dozen boxes off to the local bookfest sale; I suspect we are at the point where another 10 box contribution might be required next spring. The last time was relatively easy (old school text and genres, like your sci-fi, that no longer interest me). This time will be much harder.
    Still, I don’t own an ereader and don’t think I will be buying one. As someone noted above, publishers are responding to market challenges with hard backs that are much better designed (especially in North America — you Brits are well behind on that front) — those of us who love hard cover books are being better served than ever before.
    Which, of course, only exacerbates the too many books, too few shelves dilemma.
    Siigh.

  15. Great piece, Max. So much of this resonates with me. I recall having to sort through my mother’s book collection (and other personal effects) following her death several years ago. A heartbreaking task as I was flat sharing at the time and spare space was virtually non-existent. I ended up putting some into storage for five years or so, but the majority went to charity shops or were dumped. It was awful, like I was throwing a little piece of her life away with every book.

    I really need to face up my own cull before too long, as I’m already double-layering. Just look at my gravatar pic, and the situation has only worsened since then. I must read Grant’s essay.

  16. I’ve bought about a dozen books for my Kindle, which I leaf through from time to time, and can see myself using (though I don’t) for non-fiction that I am reading simply to absorb information. Maybe one day I’ll make the transition but at the moment my concentration is different with a screen. Screens, for me, are for scanning and not slow, deep reading.

    I’ve always been a good book culler though, I think because I fill so many notebooks with excerpts, and now photograph annotated pages to store accessibly in Evernote. Unless a book is outstanding I put it into a bag that each month I deliver to my local charity shop. If they refused to take them, it wouldn’t pain me to throw them away. As you say, they are commodities. For their price, they also deliver great value, even if discarded. There aren’t many pastimes, legal or illegal, that would keep you enchanted for 3-4 days for between £5-20.

    I am at pains to collect first editions of the writers that are my old chestnuts. Of course many are beyond my reach, but I am patient, At least when I go to the The Great Library in the Sky, there will be some residual value to at least some of my collection.

    Loved this piece, Max, and good to read the comments.

  17. I’m in the process of moving house and I find myself looking at my bookshelves and groaning thinking “oh no not again”. I’m getting really tired of lugging all my books around with me every time I move. I felt especially absurd the last time I did this given that my apartment was a one minute walk from the local library. I now confine myself to borrowing instead of buying so that i don’t accumulate any more dead weight. My wife also has a reading habit so book space is at a premium. I really do feel digital is calling.

  18. leroyhunter

    It’s the emotional links you discuss that cause the trauma Max. As you say, it becomes an irrational part of your identity, and its painful to concieve of giving bits of yourself away (or, as Grant suggests, that the accumulation of that self has been a spectacularly pointless and transient exercise).

  19. Kevin, that makes sense and as I said, “Anyway, even if you did the books would still keep breeding”). I have a decent sized three bedroom house now, and far fewer books than before I moved, but it’s obvious that I could quite quickly and quite easily fill the whole thing to overflowing if I didn’t operate some kind of one-in/one-out system.

    The hardback response is an interesting point. It’s obviously an area where an ereader can’t compete, an ereader is what it is physically, there’s no scope for a beautiful edition of a particular book. As you say though, it can exacerbate the space issue.

    But yes, whether it’s a room in a shared flat, or a large house with rooms aplenty, sooner or later if you’re a serious reader the issue will creep up on you. Possibly worse in the latter case, as you’ll have built up so many titles along the way.

    Jacqui, before he moved into a care home (which did wonders for his independence, as a good one can) my grandfather let me look at his then shelves to see if I wanted anything. He knew that since there weren’t many other readers on that side of the family the rest of it would likely just get chucked (not that I think that particularly bothered him). Your task does sound awful, and is part of what I was getting at in the legacy bit above. We accumulate these things, but someone whether it’s us, a loved one or a stranger will end up selling them or discarding them. It may as well be us, since at least then we can send it to a bookfest or whatever options we may have locally (if any, I didn’t have many as it turned out).

    Anthony, oddly enough the idea of photographing notes is one I’ve seen suggested by those professional declutterer types, this is the first time I’ve heard of someone doing it but I can see how it must help hugely.

    Having a local charity shop that accepts books helps I think. In truth most books we read we won’t return to, we won’t have time even if we had the inclination, so it’s better someone else gets the chance.

    I absolutely agree on the value point. Even a full price hardback gets you days of interest and engagement for what, £13,99, 18,99? I’m not saying that’s cheap but that’s the highest price you’re likely to pay without going to specialist luxury editions and you’d pay much the same for a trip to the cinema for far less entertainment. If you’re patient the price quickly falls on paperback release, or if there’s still a library near you it falls potentially to free. Hard to beat.

    First editions are a slightly different beast. Those clearly aren’t commodities.

    Glad you liked the piece.

  20. Stevo, that was a big part of my own driver. It was realising that I was spending time packing books (next time I’m getting the removal men to do that), paying someone to move them, spending time unpacking them, most of which I’d never look at again. Why? Sentiment, nothing more.

    If you’re next to a library I can see that would make it even more pointless. Of course if you don’t see yourself moving for years, maybe never again if you’re a retiree or something, I can see that’s not an issue. Most of us though aren’t in that world of certainty.

    Leroy, that’s absolutely true. It’s why too Grant is right when she ties it to mortality. It’s holding on to your own past, to old dreams of who you could be, to statements of self and statements of who you might be. Once you start though as Grant found and as I did too it gets a lot easier surprisingly quickly.

    The accumulation of selves I would suggest is a transient exercise, one we shore up to avoid our own transience. After all, culling unread books is in part an admission that we won’t have time to read them all.

  21. The title is absolutely fabulous.

  22. I sympathize with Linda Grant, deeply. It would be terrible to have to give away such a big part of my books.

    I can relate to lots of things in that entry. I’ve moved several times and I’ve realized I don’t feel at home until my books are out of the boxes and neatly shelved.

    I can’t throw away books just like I don’t like throwing away food. I never had to get rid of some books yet but it would be terribly difficult to do. Which one to keep? Perhaps I should do it progressively and start “forgetting” books in trains, bed & breakfasts, metro stations, on benches, in the office…in the hope someone will adopt them.

    I don’t think it’s a need to accumulate things. I don’t have any trouble throwing away clothes. There’s something sacred about a book because of History (which is why Farenheit 451 touches readers intimately) and because of its content. Throwing away a book is more than throwing away an object, it’s throwing culture away. A book is not a commodity; it’s a piece of culture.

    We have a room we call the library. It’s full of books of course and one day my daughter came home from school saying that the others laughed at her in English class. They were listing the names of rooms in a house to learn the equivalent in English and when she said “bibliothèque” (library) the others made fun of her saying nobody had such a room at home. Well we do. Some dream of a wine cellar or a jaccuzzi, my dream was a library.
    My shelves are a torture for your neck: English books & French books don’t have the titles written the same way. Tilt your head on the left to read the spine of a French book and on your right to read the spine of an English book.

  23. I absolutely love this post. It resonated with me on many levels but most of all I love the way you wrote it.

  24. chowmeyow

    I am going through this process myself – not quite as drastically, but I’m going through my library book by book and deciding what to keep. I’m also cataloging all my books using Delicious Library as I go, so I’ll actually soon find out how many I own. I think it will be at least 2,000. I’m not moving, just trying to clear space on my shelves, and also working on going through my entire apartment and downsizing worldly possessions in general. I wrote about my experience on my blog and Vishy was kind enough to point me to this post which I greatly enjoyed reading.

    My post, if you’re interested:
    http://www.booksuniverseeverything.com/2014/11/01/on-weeding-your-book-collection/

  25. I cleared the equivalent of a small bookcase of books at the weekend (with a bag going to each of the local charity shops) so I’m feeling a little better about the situation here..
    Did you acquire anything interesting from your grandfather’s collection?

  26. Isn’t it just Lollipop? Linda Grant can write. I have at least one of her novels which I may bump up the pile having now read this.

    Emma, I thought it would resonate with people. Anyone who has or hangs out on literary blogs must have an attachment to books. I found it difficult getting rid of some of mine, yet like you I have no problem chucking old clothes for example.

    The dream of having a dedicated room for books, your own library, is a common one for readers I think (It’s in the booksuniverse post linked to below your comment I note, right there in the first sentence). It’s good you achieved it, but it’s easy to see too how if you were to move one day into a smaller house it might represent a real dilemma for you in terms of what to do with its contents. That’s the dilemma Linda Grant faced.

    Caroline, thanks! It’s easier in a way to be personal with something like this, harder with a pure book review. That said, if there’s anything you’d pick out I’d be interested, it’s always good to get feedback and generally to try to write better posts.

    Chowmeyow, thanks for the link, I’ll leave a comment at yours. Do you decide as you catalogue? It would be a bit painful to catalogue and then chuck, as you’d then have to edit the catalogue? Oddly enough, I have a catalogue myself, though using a different app (I don’t know the one you mention). Including kindle books, cookbooks, art books and everything else it’s currently showing around 1,800 titles (many my wife’s but most of those I’d potentially read too).

    Downsizing possessions generally I tend to think is a good idea, but as Emma rightly says it can be harder with books than many other items, largely as they do have that semi-sacred quality to them.

    Jacqui, well done! I only took one book, a slim Penguin edition of Arthur Machen short stories. I still have it and I enjoy Machen, so I’m happy with that. He had some others I might now read, lots of Maugham for example, but I’d have had to carry them around and it’s only now thanks to Guy and Emma I have any interest in writers like that so I think I was right not to take them at the time.

  27. ABB

    Great article! In my experience, books expand to fill the space available. Move to a larger home and, by some mysterious process, rooms that at first seem quite empty within a few months have full book shelves along every wall, and book piles reaching up from the floor.

    At my workplace, we have one practical solution for sharing or passing along books. It’s called the “Free Table” – staff can put there items in good condition they no longer want and anyone else can taken them. In practice, it’s used mainly for books and DVDs. It’s right by the main staff entrance so everyone walks by it everyday. Trouble is, I usually end up picking up more books than I leave………

  28. The free table is a nice idea. We have something similar at my work, but it’s all thrillers and light romance or comedy, most of what I read really wouldn’t fit in that well.

  29. My wife and I recently went through our library due to a new bookcase being installed. We put them all into a database for reference (as they are scattered throughout the flat and I personally have at least three books on the go at once).
    It was painful getting rid of some (though they are currently living in a box on the stairs ready to go to charity) but the place looks better for it now.
    The book definitely sounds as if it is worth a read and I think it will resonate with us both. Thank you for this great article!

  30. Pingback: Christmas Preparation Underway | terencebennett.wordpress.com

  31. Three at once? Are some of them non-fiction? I don’t think I’d want to do that with fiction.

    The book is good, though it’s only available on kindle (or kindle apps of course). Leaving stuff in a box for a while can be useful as it gives you a chance to reconsider, but if after a suitable interval you haven’t wanted to get the book from the box it’s probably time for it to go.

    Have you got any further with CKII? I have a Macbook Air and I’m not sure it’ll run on that sadly.

  32. Pingback: Looking back on #readwomen2014 and my favourite reads of the year | Pechorin's Journal

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