So many books on the shelf

I took more books to a charity shop today, but that made a very small dent in the total. There are books in the study, the kitchen, and both bedrooms. There are also several on the desk, which is  entirely covered by a variety of objects including a lamp, a framed photograph of the better half (looking rather fetching), a camera, a lamp, and various stray bits of paper.

Bookshelves Web

Have I read them all? No. I haven’t read several drama books belonging to my wife. But even if I had read every one, why would I keep them? A few are reference books, so having them to hand makes sense. This one, for example.

Swedish Dictionary

And several are annotated, so even a charity wouldn’t want them. But if I’m not going to read them again, why would I keep them? And would a detective, looking at these shelves, be able to deduce anything at all? The answer, sadly, is yes.

1) The suspect is remarkably untidy. Look at the various objects parked on the shelves in addition to the books. He’s probably forgotten half of them are there.

2) The suspect has no standards. Check the top three shelves, they bend like the ocean waves. What was he thinking about?

3) The suspect is into old technology. Take that turntable, for example – definitely old school, not one of your trendy DJ jobs. And what is this? Surely not! A stand-alone CD recorder. Has this throwback never heard of computers?

4) And what’s that keyboard doing there? Strange place to put it.

5) The suspect’s into sound. Why else would he have a mixer, small though it is?

6) Are the books arranged in alphabetical order of title, by author, by genre? If anything at all, by author, though that seems to break down a lot. The suspect has a weak desire to be systematic but fails to follow it through.

7) The suspect is mainly into literature, classical music and oriental art. Which suggests that he may not require therapy since food for the soul is provided by his interests.

8) Tempting though it is, it may not be possible to obtain a read-out of the suspect’s taste in literature since some of the titles on display may reflect his taste as it was in the past, not as it is now. After all, if he ever was, he is no longer young.

So much for the detective. Yet now I am turning to some of these books again. From time to time I come across a review I have written myself and am amazed both by the detail and by how much I have forgotten. I knew the book once, I don’t know it now. It’s almost new. It is new. Turning to page one . . .

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6 thoughts on “So many books on the shelf

  1. It is an issue, isn’t it? The more books we have given away the more seem to enter our house. They enter by stealth, perhaps when nobody is looking or at night. Beds are used now for storage of books, so are the tables, kitchen bench and some have even crept behind the computer or on the floor.
    Putting up more shelves only encourages them. Is there a kind of 12 steps BA programme for books? (books anonymous)

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  2. Ah me, books! I worry about how our children will cope when we are gone. It would be a very confused detective if he followed your suggestions. I believe the memory for the contents of a book is extremely brief… 48 hours? maybe three to four days? With A Small Rain, I learnt that people will tell you firmly about something , or even some named person, in your book, that you never put there.

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  3. I didn’t know that memory for a book’s contents was so short, but I’m happy to believe it. (Well, maybe not ‘happy’ exactly.) I wonder how you reply to people who reinvent A Small Rain – ‘Ah, I see you have the third edition!’

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  4. This is what I’d _like_ my house to look like! At the moment, most of my books are in my parents’ loft, and the house is full of toys! Having said that, small children=little time to read… 🙂 Looking at your shelves, and reading your post, reminded me of Susan Hill’s book, ‘Howard’s End is on the Landing’ which I read recently and absolutely loved. A wonderful take on an autobiography – snippets of a life told through books read, re-read, discovered anew….

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  5. Sounds like your books are being used as loft insulation right now. I haven’t read the Susan Hill book: sounds like she came up with a good approach there. I hope you will be reunited with your books soon.

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