Since deciding a year ago that we were going to move out of London, I’ve gradually been purging a lot of my possessions – including my books. And oh, I have been brutal.
If you added them all up, I’ve probably discarded an entire bookshelf worth of novels and poetry and biographies that a few years ago I swore I’d never part with.
Friends, colleagues and charity shops have all been the beneficiaries of my book cull – quite a few of them ending up with books they’d leant me in the first place – and my filled-to-bursting bookshelves have heaved a sigh of relief.
The thing about being a critic is that you get sent a lot of review copies and, while that’s wonderful, sometimes I feel like Mickey Mouse in The Magician’s Apprentice when his spell goes wildly out of control.
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We move in a week. There are 28 boxes of books, and that’s not counting the pile I need to read in the next fortnight which I have optimistically refused to pack yet. In comparison, my clothes only fit three relatively small suitcases.
While I dream of a personal library with floor-to-ceiling bookshelves like in Beauty and the Beast, my budget only stretches as far as a two bedroom flat (but it has a view of Edinburgh Castle, so suck on that, Belle. Oh wait, you live in an actual castle. Never mind).
Something has to give, and apparently I can’t leave my clothes behind in order to stack the wardrobe with books.
I’m gradually learning to be pragmatic about what I keep, because the alternative is death by perilously unstable pile of hardbacks. My wife has quite sensibly transferred most of her collection to Kindle leaving only particularly nice hardbacks and her entire collection of Paul Auster to pack.
I, however, am still too in love with the ink-and-dead-trees format – luckily, since I left my Kindle in a café whilst I was flat-hunting the other week. I may be down one expensive electronic device, but at least I haven’t lost my entire library.
So how do you decide what stays and what goes? When I took the question to social media, opinions were mixed.
Horror that I could even think of throwing out my books, suggestions of selling them to second hand shops or on Amazon to make a few quid, keeping everything and double-stacking the shelves and the odd ‘do you still have that book I lent you back in 2007?’ suggested that everyone tackles this in different ways.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Having trouble going through all your books? Check out our 5 Steps to Purge Your Bookshelf!
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Bookworms! What do you do with your books when you move? Tell us in a comment!