Thursday, 14 January 2010

Books, Libraries and clutter

Books are special. We are brought up to respect them, not scribble on them and to never, ever damage them or throw them away.
That is why those of us who are old enough to know better often have bulging bookcases full things like a 1969 tax guide, with the pages stuck together because it got a bit damp when we spilled that cup of tea ten years ago...
The worst thing about book clutter is that it can actually stop us from reading and fully enjoying books. You don't want to buy a new book, or even get one out of the library until you've read the ones on the shelves. After all they cost good money...
Face it - if you haven't yet read Ulysses it is destined to be unread for ever. And do you know anyone who actually has? I never got past the first chapter.

Having begun to log our income and outgoings some years ago, we realised (or rather I did) that books were a major expenditure.
At the same time, we were shedding excess belongings in The Great De-Junk, and the books took up a lot of space. So some of them were sold or passed on in order to make room for new ones.
'How could you do that?' friends cried. Well eventually, either you need a bigger house or have to stop buying new books. We had definitely got to the 'bigger house' stage. There were books in every room except the loo.

The money earned from selling books meant more money for new ones, although some of it went towards paying off the mortgage early, (our Big Project at the time).
Here is how we did it:
1. Checked the library. If a book had been on the shelves for some time and the library had a copy, it was re-homed. If we wanted to read it again it was in the library. The same went for books that had been on the shelf for a long time and had never been read.

2. If a book made us feel bad, or had guilt associated with it,out it went. Several books our children had failed to return actually went back to the school. I had to face up to never being able to take my 25 year old mathamatical log tables book back to school. It was simply too late and out it went.

3. The money raised by selling books was extra pocket money to be spent however we wanted. Quite a bit of it went on new books.

The fatal flaw may now be obvious. Why buy books if you do not intend to keep them? WHAT ARE LIBRARIES FOR??? We had got out of the habit of using the library. (duh)

So now, after browsing in book shops or online, I write a book wish list, then go to the library and ask if they have them. Most are available, if not through the local library then through the inter library loans scheme.
(This means that if any library in your area has the book it can be requested.)
Here are some other advantages of getting to know the library.

*I am now a member of knitting groups (my passion) and a book circle in two different libraries so have a free social life through the library too.

*No one rushes you to leave a library.

*Some have talks, lectures and exhibitions - yet more free or cheap entertainment. But I am sure you know all this and I am preaching to the remember, though next time you are tempted in the book shop that the library probably has a copy.

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