Monday 10 October 2011

Time for a Book Cull

It is, I fear, time for a cull – a book cull. I always feel it’s a kind of sacrilege to get rid of any reading matter, but unfortunately books seem to be taking over the house: without any effort on our part they are multiplying (rather like the Tribbles in Star Trek) and forming new communities in what were previously neutral zones. Since there is no longer room on the shelves (where volumes are double stacked in upright rows and laid flat on the top) homeless refugees have taken up residence wherever they can find a space, and normal life is no longer possible without some kind of eviction taking place.

There are books on the dining room table, dresser and chairs, the front room sofa, and under the bed (last night I even found a stray one in the bed). There are books on the freezer, in the airing cupboard and on the top of the clothes waiting to be ironed, to say nothing of the kitchen cupboard and the wardrobe.

Anyway, what I have in mind is the literary equivalent of an autumnal cleaning and clearing session in the garden, when one prunes back unwanted growth, weeds out unwanted visitors which have sprouted in odd spaces, returns borrowed items to their rightful owners, and provides old favourites with the tender loving care they need to see them through another season. Hopefully, at the end of all this activity, a small area can be cleared where new-comers can be over-wintered.

The main problem is deciding what to keep. I’d love to know what other readers feel about this. Do you hang on to books just in case you want to read them again one day, even if you hated them, or found them boring, or never managed to finish them first time around? What about the books you read once, that have lain gathering dust for years, or books you’ve always meant to read, but never have? Would you discard them after six months, a year, two years, five years – never? And what about your old school books? I still have several, including a learned tome on the Thirty Years War, which I have rescued from the ‘discard’ pile during previous clear-outs, planning to re-read it in the hope that I will understand it better than I did at ‘A’ Level.

Reference books are a minefield because I’m always convinced they might be useful, even if they are out of date or we never look at them. Children’s books can also be tricky. I’ve still got many favourites from my own childhood, alongside modern classics that my daughters loved, but neither they nor I would ever want to re-read any of the never-ending series about ghosts, ghouls and fairies that they once enjoyed so much.

And talking of series, how do you cope with sequels that fail to live up to the promise of the original book, but you continue to buy because you want to know what happens to the characters – fantasy writers seem particularly prone to this.

The next problem is finding new homes for your unwanted books. We do have second hand book shops in the area, but none seem to be acquiring new stock at the moment. I could try selling them online, but I’m not sure how successful I’d be, plus we would have boxes of books taking up space so I will probably take them to a charity shop – unless anyone has any other solutions?

And while I’m in the mood for clearing out I am trying to have something of a redesign on this blog to make it clearer and less ‘busy’, so it should be easier to read. Blogging needs restraint - I get carried away with colourful headers, backgrounds, buttons, accessories and so on, which can detract from the written word – and that, after all, should be the most important thing on the page. I’ve left the background (I think a bit of colour makes it look more interesting) but I’ve got rid of the cutesy pictures and the header because they didn’t add anything to the blog. In addition, I’ve altered the layout in an effort to make it look less cramped. However, the changes are very much a work in progress, so please feel free to make suggestions for improvement.


  1. practising by jill.

  2. And again. I have a google account which it is saying I cannot use on this site, so I have come in as anonymous. Dont understand it at all. jill.

  3. Aha, have taken it right back to original classic design... it should be working now! Will add thigs in again and see what happens....

  4. Fingers crossed.... Still working.....

  5. Physical books don't hold much of a connection to me. I read on my Kindle and have been reading electronically even before the invention of that particular device. I'm unusual in the sense that I don't own a lot of things.

    My suggestion is to donate your books. Selling them online is a real pain and with the time involved might not be worth it. Just my advice. :) Good luck in your "book cull!"

  6. Hi Chris ... what you need is a Kindle...

  7. the trouble is if you do get a kindle you'll still have all the proper books too! lol

  8. posting still wont accept my google accunt,so i will continue as anonymous.