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Contrary Library

02 Mar
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My bookcases are so high I have become an accomplished mountaineer in the process of choosing a new read.

I have a truly decent book collection, it used to be bigger but things happened…I became more critical for one, which streamlined a lot of the mediocre stuff out.  Then before my jaunt over the ocean I gave away shed loads more books that I didn’t see myself ever reading/rereading and a few I did.

I don’t regret having what could be described as a series of drastic purges but now I am questioning if I should actually go further.  I love books and that shouldn’t really be an issue, to be surrounded by them is great but downsizing to the books given me as presents and my favourite reads will arguably make my collection more special.

Do I need the stress of seeing a huge pile of books I may never read or would it be better without, so I can grow a new and more sophisticated collection, which would be infinitely cheaper if I read them at the library first and only brought them if they really reached out to me and was sufficiently moved to need have them close at hand.

I do love the feeling of having a big collection around me though, to gaze at them and have a wander through the pages and memories.  There is a feeling of accomplishment to what I have built up as well seeing books next to each other that brings about some crazy thoughts for blog posts amongst others.

my reading in the last fortnight has been pretty much none existent, although I am at it again now and although I’m not falling out of love with books, I am beginning to question the need for a substantial collection when I am not yet settled and will inevitably move again at some point soon. I need opinions on this issue, turning it over in one’s own head becomes a bit of a joke after a while and I really don’t know which if either is the best option.

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40 Comments

Posted by on 02/03/2014 in Life

 

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40 responses to “Contrary Library

  1. Al

    02/03/2014 at 14:59

    I think that getting rid of more books would be a mistake. I know you could always go out and buy them again, but that would be more money put to waste. I look back at some of the books I have sold over the years and I regret it. Some I wish I could read again, but they are out of print now so can only find them at extortionate prices on eBay or if I am lucky, in a second hand book store.

    So, keep them. You never know when you will be in the mood for “just that kind of book”

    That’s my opinion anyway.

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    • Ste J

      02/03/2014 at 15:08

      That is an exceptionally good point…I did have that problem with the first purges but haven’t looked back but with the books dwindling somewhat I do run the risk of some losing some good books if I continue to pick at them like some sort of papyrus scab. I appreciate your opinion, that is one for the ‘you’d be mad to do it’ group.

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      • Al

        02/03/2014 at 15:10

        Very much so. Make hindsight your foresight.

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        • Ste J

          02/03/2014 at 15:12

          I wish I wasn’t short sighted…

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          • Al

            02/03/2014 at 15:25

            That’s what glasses are for 😉

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  2. Desiree G

    02/03/2014 at 15:05

    I wish I could be helpful. But I’ve regretted giving some books away while I have books that most certainly should not stay. I think the older I get, the more I lean toward a collection of books that have some sort of intimate connection to me. But I may feel differently next week.

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    • Ste J

      02/03/2014 at 15:11

      Haha, yes that is the curse of the collector or hoarder as it usually is. Having lots is great, I think that once I am settled into a place I absolutely refuse to move from then shelves will go up on every wall in readiness for books but for the moment I find myself umming and aahing in a most displeasing manner.

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  3. suzie81

    02/03/2014 at 15:06

    Ah, I can see ‘Yes Man’ and ‘Cloud Atlas’ in there – great reads!

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    • Ste J

      02/03/2014 at 15:09

      I haven’t read Cloud Atlas yet, I enjoyed Yes Man, I was quite happy even with the contrived bits which says something for my critical eye.

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  4. Theanne aka magnoliamoonpie

    02/03/2014 at 15:17

    I’m a poor one to tell anyone what to do with their books…do I regret ALL the books I’ve given away and recycled over the years…you bet! Do I often wish I could have them ALL back…you bet! Do I really want them all back…NO! I thought the answer was books on my Kindle…it’s nice because I don’t have to make as many decisions about what stays, what goes. HOWEVER, I still yearn for a real book in my hands…one that sits out where I can see it, not hidden away in a device. One that I can hear calling to me…read me, reread me, hold me, turn my pages! If they’re as important to you as I believe they are be very careful about passing them on…you’ll find yourself as you grow older replacing them…till you are once again surrounded by the words your bound friends contain.

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    • Ste J

      02/03/2014 at 15:22

      That last line was a cracking statement, I love that…I have never even attempted a Kindle, although one of my mates made me touch one at the pub and it didn’t electrocute me so I don’t have to many complaints. There is nothing tactile about it though and it can get damaged and my collection would be lost, books don’t break unless I am careless. I will have to think carefully about my next move, like when I play Minesweeper.

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  5. Theanne aka magnoliamoonpie

    02/03/2014 at 15:31

    Excellent 🙂

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  6. Lyn

    02/03/2014 at 20:01

    I have five bookcases of varying size. I live in a two-room granny flat (not counting the bathroom and minuscule kitchen (which when I stand in the centre, I can touch the walls on either side).
    So, I have decided I need to be ruthless and cull my book collection – some of which I have not read for ten years, and some of which I will never read again.

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    • Ste J

      03/03/2014 at 16:13

      It is surprisingly tough to do but as I found out last time it is quite liberating to free up space which will drive the book buying passion again, it’s a win/win really.

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  7. anna amundsen

    02/03/2014 at 20:04

    Again, a coincidence! I was just writing about my library, too, wandering if it should only hold books I connected with; trying to make excuses for owning books I have not read/will probably never read etc.. I don’t know how to answer your question since I have the same problem.. I feel more inclined to a personalized library but I think I could never stick to its rules. I am too often tempted by new-found authors so, if I get a chance to have a book for a good price I will buy it and let it wait for me..
    Maybe you could give away or exchange for other titles those books you think you don’t need..
    I will certainly have to think about this problem a bit more myself…

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    • Ste J

      03/03/2014 at 16:20

      Exchanging is a good idea…I was thinking perhaps a library in every country so if I wanted a book I had an excuse to jet oof to retrieve it and have a cup of tea as well. it’s a crazy not doable plan but it just may work!

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      • anna amundsen

        04/03/2014 at 18:24

        Hah! I like the idea. A library in every country! I know it might work here, in Sarajevo, for example, because books can be found pretty cheap at the fairs and so can be a little room to keep them in.

        There are few book-swapping sites I heard of – BookMooch, Read It Swap It, Paperback Swap, BookCrossing.. but, I have no experience with any of them so I cannot tell how good (or bad) they are..

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        • Ste J

          04/03/2014 at 18:32

          My primary concern is am I giving the books to a good home, rather like people at animal shelters…I have a few friends who are the beneficiaries of a good lot of my books so at least I have a lot of them near at hand. If I do start a library in every country , I will probably send my books to you fine bloggers to keep for me, that way i know they are secure and you are guaranteed quality.

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          • anna amundsen

            04/03/2014 at 19:59

            Well, that is an even better idea! I don’t know about the others but I am always ready to host good books 🙂

            Sometimes a thought comes to my mind – to make one of those Little Free Libraries for my neighbors.. But the thought goes away as quickly as it came because I know nobody here, in my street, who would appreciate it, and many who would destroy it the very next day.. :/
            Still, those small houses with books look so pretty. Maybe I should make one just for myself. Have it nailed on the tree, ready for an outdoor reading..

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            • Ste J

              05/03/2014 at 18:57

              I know what you mean, there was talk of a lending library down at one of the pubs but that didn’t come off. No one would read the stuff I read anyways…not around here, it’s not an area where the majority of people like to be challenged or indeed like to read. Having said that a lot of people really aren’t into challenging TV or films either. It is a grim place to live in many ways but I do like to better myself despite the general nature of people.

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              • anna amundsen

                09/03/2014 at 21:10

                I guess it’s the same everywhere.. People are overwhelmed by everyday concerns so, when it comes to their free time, they chose not to employ their brains and just let it go. They are, in general, reluctant to think.

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  8. Tom Gething

    03/03/2014 at 00:53

    I used to cling to my books, until I found I had shipped them back and forth across the country in various moves simply to have them sit on a shelf. I became tougher about it after that, culling the ones that I knew I could always buy or borrow again, if I ever felt inclined to read them again. Most, I never have. The few that really resonate, for whatever reason, I keep and safeguard. Either because they are rare, out of print, or hold a special meaning (gifts, critical moments of life, annotations I don’t want to lose, etc.). The older I get the less sentimental I feel about them.

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    • Ste J

      03/03/2014 at 16:24

      I suppose that is a fair point, a lot of books are still in print, I have some that aren’t and will give somebody else’s right arm to keep those safe. I think I am becoming less sentimental, certainly a lot less than I was a few years ago…this is tougher than the time I had to find Wally at the beach.

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  9. nancyrae4

    03/03/2014 at 01:27

    Years ago, in another life time far, far way, I gave away most of a wonderful science-fiction collection it had taken me years to accumulate. I was living the vagabond life of the recently divorced and not thinking clearly. At the time, it was the right thing to do but, honestly, there are times I wish I’d kept my precious books. Probably not much help, Ste J. Only a cautionary tale.
    BTW, I use Kindle now for convenience sake, but I still love the feel of a book and always will.

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    • Ste J

      03/03/2014 at 16:22

      It is also a wise tale and one that has me torn…I will carry on and let fate decide, that seems to be the best (laziest) way to decide. I suppose a Kindle is the answer but if it broke or got lost I would still be in the same boat and you know where you are with a physical book…much to dwell upon still.

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    • Ste J

      03/03/2014 at 16:06

      I particularly liked the envelope idea, alas I am not that creative outside the realms of writing but I am sure I can find a ton of people to do something heroic with anything they receive.

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  10. Letizia

    04/03/2014 at 16:46

    I cull my collections every few years or so. My general rule is to get rid of books I didn’t like in the first place or that I have too many copies of (this often happens to me for some reason). There are some regrets in this process but having room for new books outweighs this (sometimes….).

    Love the ridiculously high shelves!

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    • Ste J

      04/03/2014 at 16:58

      I like to get a sense of the dramatic, I was going to hunt down some toy soldiers so you would think my book choosing travails were even more heroic but alas I have none these days. How many copies is too many copies when the greats are involved? I am going to think carefully about each new book I read and pick at random other books off the shelf and make a serious decision about each, ina way I imagine that a grown up would. I refuse to believe I am one of those myself.

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  11. readinpleasure

    04/03/2014 at 16:58

    Ste J I have always maintained that I would rather buy books than clothes. And even now that my reading has become so bad, I still buy them. I just love seeing the books, the beautiful covers, glossy or not. When I re-located to tour new home, I had to pack all my books hundreds of them into packing cases that are still unpacked because the shelves to house them are not ready. I also gave loads of them away! 🙂 I guess that’s our lot as book lovers!

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    • Ste J

      04/03/2014 at 17:06

      You are right a blessing and a curse…I don’t mind telling you that I have some clothes I had when I was 14 that I still wear so I don’t have to go and buy new clothes. At least part of the fun of unboxing is the surprise of books you had perhaps forgotten about. I shall bear this curse with stoicism and knowing me get rid of a book and buy one in its place…if I keep it constant I never have to go drastic.

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  12. Elizabeth Melton Parsons

    04/03/2014 at 18:42

    Made me laugh to see your bookcase. I used to have one just like it. Had to have a ladder just to select a book. Now I have double bookcases that are so low I have to crawl on my knees. Can’t decide which is worse. I also have piles in every hidden and not so hidden corner of the house. My wish is to have one large room covered in bookcases. My own personal library. Now that would be a dream come true. You may as well keep your books. Getting rid of more doesn’t work, at least not for me. I collect them back faster than I donate. 🙂

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    • Ste J

      05/03/2014 at 19:03

      Books are really easy to buy back I agree, lol. I like the idea of the books everywhere but why limit your personal library to just one room? The house is the limit I always say…that is my one motto!

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  13. LuAnn

    05/03/2014 at 21:46

    I am certainly not one to ask, as I purged most of my things when I agreed to follow hubby along on this vagabond lifestyle. There is not much that can be stowed away in an RV, even if it fit in cubbyholes as one needs to be concerned about weight being dragged around as well. I will admit that leaving our books behind, as we also had a significant collection going, was the toughest of all, but once we shed some of our belongings, it felt quite liberating.

    Reading from a Kindle, which is what I do most often but not always, is never going to be the same as feeling a book in my hands, turning the pages, smelling that amazing book smell, but I still can get swept away by the prose without having to put the book back onto a shelf once I have finished with it.

    I am more into experiences instead of things in my life at this juncture, and I try not to spend too much time thinking about all those wonderful books I have left behind. It is certainly not an easy decision.

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    • Ste J

      06/03/2014 at 18:41

      It must be tough to do that and I do feel for you, time will tell what happens with the collection, it will be interesting to see how things go. I know what you mean about liberating though. I suppose I should soften my attitude to the Kindle and maybe I will as long as I don’t have to suffer one!

      Whilst not being material myself, except for books, but even those are in flux at the moment, I really do love to consume words…once I settle somewhere I can really decide what I want to do.

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      • LuAnn

        06/03/2014 at 21:18

        As you should. Far be it for us to influence what goes on in that head of yours. 😉

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        • Ste J

          07/03/2014 at 18:58

          Even I have no idea what goes on in my own head.

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          • LuAnn

            07/03/2014 at 22:55

            I am not surprised! 😉

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  14. Seyi sandra

    06/03/2014 at 20:47

    I have hundreds of books, and few are actually displayed in the living room. It was horrendously difficult when we moved to a new house recently, but I am so attached to my collection I didn’t have the heart to throw the ‘less than desirable ones’ away. I’m not a huge kindle fan, I would have encouraged you to get one; strange thing coming from an author, you may say, but I prefer physical books.
    My advice? Keep your books, they’re part of who you are… ( I hope that advice wasn’t lame?)

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    • Ste J

      07/03/2014 at 19:22

      I found a few books that I had in storage today and they were trashed, I was gutted so perhaps I would be a wreck if I gave lots away. Tough times indeed.

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