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Thursday, 02 February 2017


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Desperate Reader

I managed to clear out over 300 books a couple of years ago. You couldn't tell where they'd been afterwards. I let mine find a home by themselves, which works only because I live in a one bedroom flat, I badly need a library with enough shelf space to allow for some expansion. Meanwhile I don't think it much matters if you never get round to reading a book, as long as it's not breaking the bank to buy them or risking the floor joists to store them books aren't the worst comfort purchase to be made, and isn't it lovely to spend an afternoon discovering how many excellent and interesting books you have?


Oh this was delightful! The handcart certainly is speeding along. And no one can admit Brexit is a bad idea because people would have to own up to making a mistake.

My bookshelves are in need of an overhaul and my husband keeps saying he will help but then he finds an excuse and then I use him as an excuse so nothing has happened in spite of talking about them for a year. Your project is going well though. And as for the dust and spiderwebs, I be my shelves have more than yours did! :)


Not boring at all, but made me feel a bit exhausted - I do admire your industry. My bookshelves are completely higgledy piggledy and I recognised your cobwebs and spiders. The only ordering system I've ever used, now abandoned, was colour-coding, which pleased me very much but made some people very cross for some reason. My problem here in France, and I suppose yours too, is what to do with unwanted books - no handy charity shops.


Hayley - THREE HUNDRED books! I think I've managed about ten. :) I am really impressed because it is tough. I suppose I have always bought books on the assumption I'd grow up to live in a castle with a massive library. Alas, something has gone sadly awry with that plan.

I really like your philosophy about books being far from the worst comfort purchase, I agree with you absolutely.

Stefanie - it is indeed hurtling and to be fair there has been so much anger and nastiness on both sides that it's hard for anyone now to change their mind. Having said that, I really, really hate being wrong about anything and yet when it comes to Brexit I have really, really hoped to be wrong.

I love the way you've referred to it as a 'project', that makes it sound so much more worthy and positive and like something that's allowed to go on for a while. Until I read that it was all rather tied up with guilty feelings around acquisitiveness, untidiness and sloth. So, thank you for that!

Harriet - sad to say there has been little industry here, otherwise there might have been a few more photographs of bookshelves... It's funny how the colour-coding system inspires rage in other people, isn't it? I wonder why? It could be that they're objecting to the idea of a book as an aesthetic object and framing that as frivolous and incompatible with being a 'serious' reader. But then why would they feel threatened by that? All very odd.

Christine Harding

Every couple of years I take 'unwanted' books to Oxfam, but they are like homing pigeons, and find their way back! Books are jumbled and squashed together in every room, but the Man of the House has just moved things prior to decorating, and grouped lots of non-fiction neatly into subjects. Poetry is now homeless, and cookery has migrated to the futility room where it is vying for space with the ironing. And the shelves holding my lovely old green-spined VMCs and the Persephones seem to have shrunk, while those holding all the other fiction have bowed under the weight.


Oh poor poetry! And poor cookery! (Laughed at 'futility room'.) Does your non-fiction like being grouped? I love the idea of your homing-pigeon books, especially as I am regretting a few Oxfam donations from last year and have already retrieved one book from my 'giving-away' pile...

I hope that the decorating goes well, and that the books adjust!

Jenny @ Reading the End

Finding an organizational system for your books is always a challenge! I would never dare try anything chronological, because I suspect I'd never be able to find any of my books again. I stick with sorting by genre, then alphabetically, except for some periods of my life where I organized by how much I loved the books. The benefit of this system is that it makes it reeeeeeally clear which books you can get rid of in the case of a purge. All the ones to the right or the left of a certain place are GONE. (Works great, I swear.)


Ha ha, that's a FANTASTIC system, were I not already worn to the bone (ahem, not literally, not even remotely really) with arranging according to my current system I would give it a go.


Your post made me chuckle - I am in complete sympathy with your predicament - and you're obviously enjoying your reorganisation.

I have one set of 4 lovely bookcases for (many but by no means all) of my paperbacks - and these are strictly A-Z, then another has my Folio and bestest hardbacks in. Everything else has to fight for shelfspace in IKEA Billy bookcases of which I am have 7 mostly double stacked on the shelves, plus piles everywhere. I am mindful that in coming years, I will want/need to seriously downsize, so am trying hard with my culling - it's so hard though.


It IS hard, isn't it Annabel? I mean, I look at all my books and even if I stopped working and interacting in any way with the rest of my family, I doubt I could read or reread them all before I die, and of course that's not counting the new books... But how do I know which ones Future Helen will want to read?

I am enjoying my reorganisation, you're right about that. I've bodged it a bit so now I have broad time themes - early twentieth century, for instance - and then I group books vaguely by author within that. I've just been dusting all my Woolves and they're now sitting beside Katherine Mansfield...

Good luck with any culling! Or maybe we should say, reh-homing, it sounds less horrific. :)

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