Thursday, April 23, 2009


I have finally done the last part of book unpacking. Note: we moved in at the end of December. The books were by far the most enjoyable part of packing and unpacking for me, though there was also some challenge in working out where everything would go. I've had to split my fiction: A-K downstairs and L-Z upstairs. Other downstairs shelves include K's fiction and all sorts of non-fiction belonging to both of us. I'm intrigued to find that I have almost twice as many books in the first (less-than) half of the alphabet; and that bookshelf is overloaded in many places. I'm still not entirely sure I won't find several more L-Z boxes in a corner somewhere, as there are still lots of boxes in corners around the place.

I am in a whirlwind of booklust now. I want to read about 50 books 'next'. I'm amazed at the number of dusty old paperbacks that cost me a dollar or so 15 years ago, many that I haven't managed to read yet, but that I am still absolutely eager to read.

This lust never really goes away. I am always reading at least one novel which goes with me on the bus every day. I always have a pile of stuff in waiting, loans from friends, recent purchases, and older things I've pulled out of the shelves.

The current bout of booklust has also been stirred up by a couple of rounds of bookshop browsing on recent trips to Adelaide and Brisbane. I go through phases where I don't go to bookshops, new or secondhand, much, because I'm trying to read what I've already got. But I can't really resist when I'm travelling, especially when I'm with like-minded friends who point out things I wouldn't have looked at. You'd think book browsing was an essentially solitary activity, but it doesn't have to be.

I always loved books, and was provided with many books as a child, as well as lots of library access. Of course I never owned as many books as I would have liked to, though there is something magical about those old favourites and even not-at-all favourites, including some quite impenetrable books, all of which I read and reread uncountable times, just because they were there. And I still treasure all of them.

As soon as I started earning my own money I went headlong into a long, very indiscriminate book collecting phase. I bought second-hand almost exclusively; I've never gotten into the habit of buying many books new (I do occasionally like to support a favourite author though). Second-hand books were cheap and you could never have too many books in the house. I was interested in so many different things. I bought things just because I recognised the title, especially 'classics'. Because I'm a born collector and hoarder, I was drawn to collecting multiple books by the same author, often even before I had read a single book of theirs. Sometimes when I finally got around to reading one, I had to admit I didn't love that author as much as I had expected to. Nutty? Well, it was partly just the thrill of the chase.

I long ago acknowledged that I didn't have enough space for all the books (while secretly kind of liking the books-stuffed-in-every-nook-and-cranny aesthetic). It's only relatively recently that I've really been able to do any serious weeding out. I used to go in intending to make some space, spend an hour looking and come out with three books I could bear to part with.

I think I will always keep a lot of books, but I am much more willing now to read something, realise I'm not likely to read it again, and find someone or somewhere to pass it on to. I've had much more success than I expected with exchanging books for credit at a couple of my favourite second-hand bookshops. Anything they don't want goes to Lifeline or op shops.


Rose Red said...

I am exactly the same with books - except I don't read them at all any more. Sigh. Must make time to read again!

Bells said...

I have that sort of relationship with them too. Our 'library' was created when we moved into the house, loving the idea of a room for books.

And yes, loads of cheap paperbacks here too that I bought as a student when I used to haunt Gilberts and other such shops. I can't bear to lose them. Nor have I read many of them, but I will.

Alwen said...

I find Google Books a blessing. I can add anything I fancy to "My Library" and I don't have to find shelf space for any of it.

Well. Except for the things I've printed out.