Sunday, November 30, 2008

Which Books to Keep?

There are two general schools of thought on which books to keep, as I learned once I began swapping stories with friends and acquaintances. The first views the bookshelf as a self-portrait, a reflection of the owner’s intellect, imagination, taste and accomplishments. ... Books become stand-ins for friends and clients.

The other approach views a book collection less as a testimony to the past than as a repository for the future; it’s where you put the books you intend to read. ... At its most pragmatic, and with the aid of technology, this attitude can be breathtakingly ruthless.
There's a very nice piece by Laura Miller in the New York Times on our relationship to our bookshelves and how and when we "cull" our books.

Of course, I'm mostly in the first category. My books are my old friends. They may be a little tatty and a little age-spotty ... but then so am I. And each title reminds me of the time when I read it, and how I came by it. Every time I've tried to cull books it seems, I end up trying to find copies of the same books I gave away! Hopeless!

But given the sheer number of unread books I'm accumulating, my shelves also serve as my reading list for quite some time to come.

8 comments:

Matt said...

I've lost many books adn many good ones. To me my collection is a mirror of my persona. It not only allows me to revisit old friends and lovers, but also to righten myself into confidence. As well, it's a sort of low maintenance superannuation fund, a deposit on future needs.

Rob Spence said...

The books may be tatty, Sharon, but you are anything but. No false modesty, please.:-)

Argus Lou said...

Ms Bibli, when I moved here, I told myself, "Only two shelves. I'll maintain just two shelves of books I want to read and several to keep." Now, four shelves later, I'm not so sure...

Damyanti said...

I have left my first collection of books with my sister, and tho they are well taken care of, I still miss them.

This time when we moved in, we had 20 cartons of books alone.

I definitely believe in holding on to my books. I will happily lend them out, but I get pretty furious if they are not returned, or returned in bad shape.

anbalagan said...

I have always wanted a bigger house for the books I have read and which have become great friends of mine.
However,since I live in abject poverty,and have no hope of striking it rich, I have packed them all in cardboard boxes to reread ever so slowly,when I run out of money and the world is coming to an end

Chet said...

If there's a real need to downsize one's library, then I would keep the books that have been signed for me by the writers.

savante said...

Far too many books to even cull at the moment. I would need months just to weed out the bad ones. Honestly what do you with the bad ones?

bibliobibuli said...

matt - "low maintenance superannuation fund" LOL! i need to think of it that way

thanks rob! but my books and me grow old together ...

argus lou - funny how they creep back, huh?

anbalagan - didn't know whether to laugh or cry when i heard that. hope your luck changes!

chet - yes my signed copies are closest to my heart too and i now have quite a number

savante - let's hope amir organizes another book event at annexe where we can bring our books to find kind new homes and get some new old ones that someone else doesn't want. book crossing is another noble idea ...