Short of a wonderful opportunity dropping out of the blue and begging to be seized the kind of change I want will take time to achieve but one thing I can confront immediately is the way books have taken over my flat. I love being surrounded by books but given my limited. Living space they've gotten totally out of control, they are everywhere. When I pulled out my weekend bag, unused for a month, to stay with my mother over Easter I found a Waterstones bag of books I'd already more than half forgotten about. There are books in every corner, on every surface, in bags, in the bathroom, under, on, and above their shelves. It's impossible to find what I want, overwhelming to consider the amount that are waiting to be read, and all very, very, dusty.
With all this in mind my mission for today is to clear out somewhere between 500 and a 1000 of them. That would be a maximum of about a third. Whilst I write this I'm looking a a substantial pile of about 250. Already I can't imagine where they went - for such a big pile it's made very little impact on the shelves and I'm running out of easy choices.
These books are ones I've read, ones I realise I will almost certainly never read, old textbooks from undergraduate days, cookbooks I simply don't refer too (which I would love to keep but they take up so much space which could be better used by books I will use), unsolicited review copies that are creating pressure rather than pleasurable anticipation... Those, and a few which have been gifts are causing the deepest pangs of relative guilt but that helps nobody.
It was easy to discard what felt like yards of Mitford letters, Noel Cowards letters, the diary's of Duff Cooper and Harold Nicholson - all fascinating and amusing, none of which I've seriously read in the many years I've had them. Gardening books have mostly gone - I don't have a garden of my own, rarely read them, and am much more the sort to plant and see than properly plan. Besides they no longer reflect the sort of things I want to grow, for that I have a collection of River Cottage handbooks.
This isn't about de cluttering, I'm much to acquisitive to ever successfully do that, but whilst my mind has turned to gardening it feels more like having a good pruning session for the stronger growth of my personal library. What will be left are books that work better together, which don't threaten to bury me in a cascade of paper and obligations, and hopefully a flat that resembles a home more than a warehouse.