Step one was gather together all my books into one place. Step two is stack them into categories - interesting to find that most of my books are reference books of one kind or another....
So far my categories are -
Diet and Health
Current Reference (living simply)
Duplicates (how many dictionaries does one family need?)
To Be Returned
Definitely to Get Rid Of
and (inevitably) Miscellaneous
I like Lynne's idea of a 'core library' (see comments 28 Nov). I now see myself as pruning and thinning and getting rid of dead wood to keep my core library vital, healthy and accessible and with room for fresh growth. (Do you like my gardening metaphors Lynne?)
Well, Peter Walsh in his book It's All Too Much (yes, I've sent for it - don't laugh!) says you keep all those books so that when you reread them you will remember the great times you had at university, or because you might need them someday, or you have always had them so you can't part with them, or someone gave them to you so you are obliged to keep them forever........
I simply love them! They represent many hours of enjoyment, which is lovely, but do they give me joy now? Just being there? Maybe not.
Someone else once said your books should represent who you are now, not who you were 10 or 20 or more years ago. Good point. I've absorbed much of what I needed from my books I think. This is something I'll consider as I go through them deciding whether or not to keep them.
This weather is perfect for the task. Feed the birds, then a good fire and a mug of coffee and I shall set to, but first....
Here are some of the suggestions which struck a chord with me....
Someone said 'Think about what kind of library you want'. Well apart from one where I can walk up to a shelf, lay hands on the book I want straight away, and lift it off the shelf without having to move something else first (this is my number one requirement!) I haven't thought about it really.
One of the decisions I have made however is that I'm not buying any more bookshelves.
Someone else had an 'unread' category. I don't have an unread category! I've read all my books. I read them almost as soon as they come in the door - then they go on the bookshelf.
Which raises the question - If I've read them all what am I keeping them for?
16 snowballs and a candle - doorstep magic!
I wonder if using bold is not the done thing either..and is it worse than using too many exclamation marks? I do know not to use capitals because that would be SHOUTING, and I wouldn't shout at you....ever.
Books. I am going to be bold about tackling my problem, a not uncommon one, of too many books.
I love books. Always have and always will. But the world has changed. And my house is not getting any bigger. My family is.
Each year we put the Christmas tree in the study and all the visiting children gather to decorate it. There are five extra children this year in my family! And at the moment you can hardly move in there for stacks of books.
So, step one in my helpful book (see yesterday's post) is - gather all your books from around the house and your vehicle.
I may be gone some time....
The idea of organising - thoughts, time, work, space and stuff, underpins this blog really. And I do like organising and being organised. I guess there's a sense of being in control of your life, and of forward momentum that is satisfying about it. Things functioning smoothly, finding things when you need them, all lead to a simpler, more relaxed life.
I've just bought Organise Now! - a weekly guide to simplify your space and your life by Jennifer Ford Berry. It covers 52 weeks!
I'm hoping the book will help me get to the parts I wouldn't otherwise reach...the attic?
But first, the books....
Bruno Bettelheim's studies of kibbutz raised children led him to believe that the lack of private possessions had a negative effect on the ability to make personal relationships.
Sherry Turkle in Evocative Objects:Things We Like talks of 'objects as companions to our emotional lives' and 'objects that connect us to ideas and people'. Which reminds me how interesting it was to do Janet Luhr's exercise (see 14 Nov). Have you tried that? How useful did you find it? I wonder if it would help with decisions about which books to keep?
I find there is nothing simple about getting rid of books.....
I've been looking at materialism through the eyes of the anthropologists in books like The Comfort of Things and Stuff by Daniel Miller, as a kind of counterbalance to all this minimalism and the notion that tends to go with it that we are less than good if we own, and value 'things'. Daniel Miller puts it thus:
'....we will not be helped by either a theory of stuff, or an attitude to stuff, that simply tries to oppose ourselves to it; as though the more we think of things as alien, the more we keep ourselves sacrosanct and pure. The idea that stuff somehow drains away our humanity.
This model of the noble, unmaterialistic savage is entirely unhelpful. All it achieves is the assumption of lost purity. It makes us feel alienated and polluted simply for being who we are.'
Judging theories on the basis of whether or not they are 'helpful' raises a whole lot more questions, but there is certainly food for thought here.