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.
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.
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?