27 November 2010

According to one way of looking at the problem, a personal library is an enormous accumulation of books you don't want to read – either because you once tried and failed, or because you've already read them and won't ever need to reread them. So what function are they actually serving? In past times, the library of a grand house was a domestic resource that contained a repository of knowledge that couldn't be stored in any other way. It was also somewhere your guests might find something with which to entertain themselves in the quiet times between talking and eating.

These days, no such extravagantly space-consuming resource seems necessary. There will always be books to which one wants to refer back again and again, but what of most of the novels, biographies of minor figures, the tidal wave of critical theory? The answer is: they can go. Having served their moment, they can be shown the door. It's a brutally efficient new system – buy, read, flog on Amazon Marketplace – but it feels like a mid-life rite of passage.

--Stuart Walton, "My book cull: a loss of shelf esteem." But are we not all entitled to pretend we have the library of a grand house once in a while, if not the rest of the house?

1 comment:

jo said...

Definition of Book Shelf = expensive wallpaper!

And I have yards and yards of expensive wallpaper. (sob)