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Pruning bookshelves – is it possible?

My bookshelves are overflowing. I have promised myself to fix it and as I stand before them I come to all sorts of realisations. First of all, I buy a large number of books that I never read. A trip to the book shop for me is like a trip to IKEA, you go in thinking you’re buying a lamp and a bin and two hours later find yourself in the check-out queue with a trolley full of napkins, candles, bedsheets, kitchen utensils, plants…

The easy part is throwing all my husband’s mediocre Scandinavian crime novels. Then there are the outdated business books.  Release 2.1 – A Design for Living in the Digital World from 1988, for example, is not hard to throw either, although perhaps I ought to donate it to a museum instead?

Then it starts to get more difficult. I’m obviously not throwing any of the classics, I’m optimistic enough to think that even my boys who say they ‘hate reading’ will one day reach for George Orwell’s 1984, and come to think of it, I’d quite like to re-read that myself…

This project is also a trip down memory lane. I remember being completely engrossed by Thomas Mann’s The Buddenbrooks on a business trip to Stockholm years ago, the powerpoint presentation remained unread in my bag. Or the night I spent reading John Fowles’ The Magus, unable to put it down. 

As I go through the shelves, a saying grinds at the back of my head: ‘Show me your bookshelf and I’ll tell you who you are.’ Scary stuff…Should I keep this book as it makes me look smart? Should I throw that as it makes me look stupid?

Let’s face it, the likelihood of my reading even 10% of these books again is slim. Bookshelves are there to remind you about all your great moments of reading, to serve as a library to your friends and family and to look good, because what would a living room be without a bookshelf? A furniture showroom? Call me old-fashioned, but e-books will never replace paper books in my house, at least, for this last reason alone.

I look at the pitiful pile on the floor…was this all I could bring myself to get rid off? If nothing else I’ve rediscovered lots of unread books that did appeal to me at one point. And I’ve realised that I probably don’t need to return to the bookstore for another six months…

…which, of course, is total bullshit.

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How is your bookshelf doing…anyone with more luck than me out there? I’d love to hear from you.