I’ve written before about the size of my current book collection and now faced with my 7th house move since leaving university, I’ll be having a clear out as I won’t be able to fit all of them into the new place as well as a husband, studio and pianos. It’s a time when I’m forced to really look at my books and decide what I actually love, what moved me so strongly that it is worth keeping and what failed to stir anything other than a trip to the charity shop.
I have approximately a trizillion books that I love. I have a copy of ‘Little Wooden Horse’ that I first read when I was about six and in hospital. It’s full of memories because it was the book that was being read to us in class at the time. I’d got so upset at missing what came next, my dear mama had to ask my teacher for the details and then track a copy down in charity shops as it was out of print. (If you have a six year old get it for them instead of Princess Piffle or whatever the kids are into these days.). Next to it on the shelf is a copy of a book much loved by the Hubby as a child, ‘Jennie’ by Paul Gallico. (He also wrote The Poseidon Adventure). Jennie is about a cat that goes to sea by mistake and the adventures she has. The Little Wooden Horse goes to sea by mistake too, come to think of it. Anyway, Jennie, the book, is also the basis for the cat’s name. Her name at the rescue centre was Penny, which is my name, and so we changed hers. I don’t think she noticed. She’s registered with the vet as Jennifer Penelope McReidy-Kicks. So that’s another keeper right there.
What can I live without? First up a small pile of Jeffery Archer. Oh the shame! In my defence these were a holiday read. Unlikely to read them again though, so into the Charity Pile they go. Dante! That’s been on the shelf, unread since 2004 and has its own air-miles quota as it’s been on holiday several times. I’m never going to actually read it though. That applies to almost all the literary classics, so Mr Dickens, Mr Joyce, and Ms Woolf will all need to find another shelf to rest on. I seem to have a stack of coffee table books that are in pristine condition. Bought because they were a) incredibly beautiful objects or b) made me more look more intellectual than I am. They are on the specially built large bottom shelf and never see the light of day as my coffee table is the resting place for the remote controls and Whiskas Temptations- I am slattern.
My Bill Bryson collection have been read and re read, replaced, loaned out, dipped into, stored in the loo and taken on holiday just in case the Dante didn’t work out. Tattered, battered and in such a state that even Haringey Council might be called to action. These are books that might not survive the move. So I have a plan. I am going to re-buy my Bryson in eBook format as soon as they’re available, so I can read whenever without damaging them and if we ever make stylish special edition glossy gorgeous copies I shall display them in my new home with pride. I may even stalk Mr B himself and get them signed!
The other thing I’m attached to is the planet. Physicists may observe that I’m not attached, just held in place by gravity, but you know what I mean. I believe in recycling and yet can’t get excited by books printed on the grey uber-recycled paper. I understand that the chemicals involved in making the gorgeous paper are ruining the planet. I feel bad about the huge piles of cheap paperbacks I see in shops, but am conflicted because if people are at least reading something that should be a good thing. An early study indicated that ebooks are a green alternative despite the plastic and obsolescence. I’d be keen to read another one, electronically of course.
Penny - E-books Manager