12 January 2010

All that you can't leave behind

Fellow ink-stained wretch and alum of best school ever Sonia alerted me to two articles in the Times that fit in well with an ongoing discussion on this blog, "Books You Can Live Without" and "Books to Live By." In the first, authors share their secrets for maintaining their collections -- at least the ones who will admit to giving away any books at all. In the second, commenters share the one or two books they wouldn't give up for love or money.

A few thoughts:
  • Most of the authors approached this question practically and metaphysically, with the exceptions of Fred Bass of the Strand (all practical) and Joshua Ferris (all metaphysical). The former end suits if you run a giant used bookstore; as for the latter, it must be hard to take a principled stand against discarding any, but I too have fallen prey to the "addiction of good intentions."
  • The closest I ever came to narrowing down my library to essentials was probably when I studied abroad -- but that was a false cull: I was only giving up my library for six months, making the separation slightly easier.
  • To the commenter who asked if anyone had felt euphoria while reading: Yes, you are not alone.
  • Do you own any books you aren't re-reading (or have no plans to re-read), but can't bear to give away? Reference books don't count.
  • Also, discuss:
"Is a gentleman’s library of floor-to-ceiling bookshelves anything more than a vanity? Now if I can just get rid of all the mirrors in the house." --Billy Collins


8yearoldsdude said...

I am with Billy C. I am not a library-haver. I don't really believe in keeping books. I mostly use the library, or if I do own a book, I tend to give it away or sell them. but I am not a very active re-reader, and a live with a humanities PhD student who more than fills the house with her books.

I was in a house of a young couple recently that had decorated with books including displaying the book "decorating with books." it pretty much blew my mind.

Unknown said...

quote fro a friend:
"Books are no more than expensive wallpaper"

Ellen said...

Jo, that may be true, but as a renter, it's cheaper than losing my security deposit for putting up real wallpaper.

8, I can't believe Decorating With Books is a real book. Now that I've looked it up I think I found the next great gag gift for people with overstuffed shelves.