Saturday, June 25, 2011

What happened next and a giveaway.

Somehow this afternoon has turned into this evening and now tonight (I think that makes sense) and I've been remarkably productive, unfortunately it’s all been channelled in the wrong direction (yes I should have been revising). What I have done though is rake through my books – and out of the 1600 odd titles I've found about 20 I think I can do without.

Gone are the first year philosophy textbooks which I didn’t read in 1992, haven’t looked at since, and know full well I will never look at – kept all this time partly as a reminder of the past, partly because I like to finish a job however long it takes (that’s probably a lie) and partly because one of them cost me 15 quid and I really felt I should get something for my money. Well I admit in this case it’s time to let go.

The wordsworth edition of ‘War and Peace’ can go and join it’s many brethren in the charity shop as well. It’s manky despite never having been opened and I’m finally prepared to concede I will never read it, the Russian classics don’t appeal to me that much added to which it weighs a ton and would fall apart before I got half way through. If the day comes when I really want to read nothing else I’ll get a nicer copy.

There are a few duplicate copies, absolutely unnecessary, a few leftovers from my days in the bookshop and a few unwanted presents... Now for the disclaimer; if any of the wonderful friends who have given me books over the years are reading this than obviously your treasured gift is not in this pile. But, and I feel an almost crushing sense of guilt (or is it exam anxiety?) admitting this, most of the books on the shelf that I feel a bit ambivalent about (not very many really) have been given to me rather than purchased. Some in a casual I read this and thought you might like it (and your flat is closer than Oxfam) kind of way, others have been proper gifts. As gifts I want to keep them, as books I’m not so bothered and this is why I have a copy of ‘Trainspotting’.

The other thing about rejecting gifts is that they might turn out to be ‘Nights at the Circus’ which I first got as a fairly casual sort of present. It took me a while to come round to it but when I did it sparked an almost obsession with Angela Carter. That book about a giraffe might turn out to be my next Angela Carter moment. I’d better keep it.

Anyway I feel very virtuous about my clear out – it even got to the point I had to stop myself before getting rid of some things I may yet want to read (‘Charlotte Gray’ you are safe for now) which is basically almost everything that looks even vaguely contemporary and in the spirit of sharing I have a book to give away.

If you think you might be interested in a copy of ‘The Road To Vindaloo – Curry books for Curry Cooks’ then please let me know via comments, email etc. It’s one of Prospect books finest and has a whole lot on the history of curry as well as recipes. Perfect for curry fans everywhere and as good a way as any for me to convince another person of how brilliant Prospect are. 


  1. I love that there are only 20 you can part with! I was envisaging you getting rid of 500 or something. I think I could get of 20, if I tried...

  2. 'The Odd Woman' looks good and I've heard great reviews on that.

    I don't even want to try getting rid of my books. I might when I move to another place but at the moment, they're happily stuffed in their own little corner.

  3. 20 books is a lot to sort out at once, I usually only manage one or two. Are the Trollopes extra copies, or ones you didn't like? I was reminded of something Susan Hill said in Howards End Is On the Landing, which I've been trying to keep in mind when weeding: "You don't have to pay its rent just because it is a book."

  4. Simon, I'm quite careful about what I let on the shelf, books I don't think I'll want to keep get passed on pretty quickly. I could have got rid of more but almost everything would have been my take on contemporary fiction (less than 30 ears old) and it may well be that I'll want to read it one day.

    madbibliophile, the Gissing is a duplicate copy as are the Trollopes and a few others. I don't want to get rid of books so much as find a way to control them, and find space for more of course..

    Lisa May - it's a good point. I don't want my flat to turn from being a home into a good impression of a second hand book shop. I need a bit of balance.

  5. I will sometimes get a pile going of books I no longer need, but if I don't get rid of them right away, they slowly make their way back to my bookshelf. I hope those 20 gone will give you extra space :)