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The books on my shelves...

...are my external mind. They recall to me the person I was when I read them, the ideas I had that informed my decisions, the reasons why I am who I am.

So when it is necessary to cull how do I decide what to cull?

Just in one fiction bookcase there are so many: Dorothy Dunnett and Alastair Gray took me to strange places. Diana Wynne Jones, Elizabeth Goudge and Paul Gallico await the next visit home. Greg Egan, John M Ford and Jon Courtney Grimwood carry on the conversation of science fiction. Marilyn French and Carlos Fuentes mattered enormously, and I'm sure I was too young to really appreciate them, or Cecilia Holland, or Shirley Jackson. I'd like to think I'll read them all again some day, even if that day never comes.

And there are six more such bookcases, and the paperbacks, and the non-fiction. And even after ten boxes have gone to Oxfam, and four more to Brian for resale, there are still six more to go.

It's easier to post to LJ than to go back to choosing the ones that must go.


( 7 comments — Leave a comment )
2nd May, 2007 15:40 (UTC)
I've found that I can do multiple passes on any grouping of books: it's an ongoing process. After I remove the obvious toss-outs (and keepers), later I'll be able to see the next set of things that I can live without.

Still, it's not an easy habit, getting rid of books.
3rd May, 2007 09:23 (UTC)
Me too. The problem is that the easy ones were in those first 14 boxes. The ones that are still here really are hard to cull again.
2nd May, 2007 15:55 (UTC)
Keep in mind your life expectancy and your reading rate. Multiply one by the other, and I'll graciously allow you double reading rate once you retire -- a theory not borne out by any retired person I know but never mind. OK. From that, subtract all the new books you expect to read between now and then.

Right. So how many of these books are you going to re-read?

When we were culling (and we've only done non-fiction and paperbacks A-E so far) we kept a Delicious Library note of everything we were culling. So I can still, later, look at a virtual external mind of the books I used to own.
3rd May, 2007 09:28 (UTC)
Yes, but Delicious Library is Mac only. And Brian says that the barcode readers have problems and don't always bring up the right book - how do you manage that?
3rd May, 2007 11:53 (UTC)
We've been doing 100 books at a time in evenings. DL uses the iSight I have attached to my computer to scan. Of course we have a lot of books without barcodes. It does always get the barcode right but barcodes are clearly reused for some products.

You'll have to come round and watch us do some to see how it works. I think there are Windows equivalents, not so beautiful as DL.
3rd May, 2007 06:33 (UTC)
Makes >>squeeky!!<< noise

You ... can ... throw ... books ... away ... (!!!)

How ? What mystic power do you possess ? I have a loft that would like to meet you, as it is currently hosting about 1/3rd of my library. And every so often I find myself being referred to books I have thrown away (Like the Clark Ashton Smiths that I decided I didn't need the nightmares from).

But I'm not a hoarder !! They might come in ueful one day -- like the eleven out-of-date phone directories I have, just in case we ever need soemthing to support a ladder on the stairs.

3rd May, 2007 09:22 (UTC)
I really think you could lose the telephone directories!
( 7 comments — Leave a comment )


Caroline M

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