Death By Books

I live surrounded by books. The photo above is of my bedside table, just to give an idea of what I’m currently reading – plus I also have a ridiculous number on my ipad. Quite often I have books piled on the bed-head as well. One morning my kids will come in and find me buried by the books, only my feet visible. There are worse ways to go.

On rebuilding last year most of our things were stored in the little house. Now we’re planning to demolish it and build a granny flat for my Mum. So, in we go and clear the place out. The little house is comprised of two rooms, a hallway and a bathroom, all of which are full. We literary have to take a box out before we can take a step forward, take out what we can reach, a few more steps forward… it’s been a great chance to declutter. The skip we’ve hired is rapidly filling (which is a tad embarrassing, considering we decluttered when we built last year. Apparently.) As we pull out the flotsam and jetsam of our lives we bring out some books. Boxes and boxes of them. Like an archeological dig, the deeper we go, the more interesting the discoveries. Books we’d forgotten about. Books we remember but haven’t seen in so long. Old friends greeting each other after too much time apart.
One wall of my study

Yesterday we went to Ikea to buy DIY bookshelves. (I wasn’t sure when my beloved parked in the 15min loading zone, but somehow we were in and out of that place in 20 mins. Usually places like Ikea takes a few hours.) Hopefully a few more bookshelves will be up this week, and our books will start to find a home. I have no idea how many we have. Thousands, if not tens of thousands. Books on everything. A virtual library.

As is probably by now apparent, both my husband and I have an aversion to throwing books out. I find it so hard, knowing the effort taken to write them. A pipe dream is to own a second hand bookshop, a place to sit with a cup of coffee and a bowl of soup and read the afternoon away. A shop most likely populated with my own surplus of books.

With some of the books, however, I had no choice. Part of the fun of living on acres is the wild life which comes with it. Books stored in boxes in an unused shack – the rats enjoyed some as much as I did.

For now, however, the little shack is free of rats. I spied the diamond python sunning himself on the roof. (Spring has definitely arrived. Although the nights are cold, the days delightful.) On looking closely I could make-out the bumps of his digesting lunch. After warming himself on the corrugated iron, he slithered away to the neighbour’s property. He does the rounds, clearing out the rats in one place (amongst other things, such as eggs) before moving onto the next. He’ll be back. Maybe sometime in summer, maybe not until next year.
My new friend


Other books to be thrown away included some children’s books. I’ve kept a few classics and others full of memories, given others away, but as it will be quite a while before the grandkids come along, into the skip they went.

So now the books are waiting for their new home on the bookshelves. How to arrange them will be the next question. Fiction in one spot, travel in another. Poetry on one shelf, then maybe philosophy. Literary theory, history, gardening. The cooking books already have their home in the kitchen.

And as I unpacked them and dusted them off, I came across so many books I haven’t read, or have read many times and want to read again.
A desk is under there somewhere

So, I decided, what is the point of having all these books if I don’t read them? I can’t claim to live an intellectual life if these books sit on the shelves, unloved. So that is what I plan to do, working my way through all the books in my house, from philosophy to cooking, literature to religion, dog training to the works of Homer. Travel, art, history, poetry, science fiction – there’s very little that’s not represented. I have no idea how long this crazy vow will take – I’m guessing a few years –  but, if you persevere with me, I’ll review some on them along the way.

Must be time to brew some coffee and get started.

5 Thoughts on “Death By Books

  1. Wow! – I totally get your desire to read all of the books in your personal library. I was looking at many of the unread books in my library – as well as a number of old ones I would love to re-read – and daring myself to savor these and let other people read all the new stuff….haven’t quite got up the courage!

    I love your observation that a physical book makes you appreciate the effort taken to write and produce the book in a way that reading on tablets does not.

  2. I sometimes think what my heirs (or social workers if I die single) would do with my books. I think I might start a national library with the books I collect: serious works on history, biographies, city accounts, myths…Being a tour guide and a travel blogger (and a Marie-Antoinette fan) set a tone to my choice of books. I hardly own a novel or two.

    • anneharrison on October 9, 2017 at 9:26 pm said:

      Ah, Marie-Antoinette. What a tragic life. Books really do have a life of their own – I love buying second hand ones, with all their memories. Thanks for taking the time to read and comment.

Post Navigation