My friend, M, came to tea yesterday and took away her annual haul for the breast cancer fund-raiser she’s involved in. She usually warns me a few months in advance so that I can pull some books of the shelves to donate. I haven’t been as methodical as I usually am, just the odd shelf now and then when I’ve caught sight of a book and wondered why on earth I’ve kept it for so long. It wouldn’t be on the shelves if I hadn’t enjoyed it at some stage so I feel I can hand it over with a clean conscience. And I’ve finally finished 33 Revolutions per Minute which I began back in June. Good as it was, I won’t be wading through that again.
So what keeps a book on my shelves? Well, I say ‘my’ but they’re H’s as well, of course. I always ask before weeding out one of his books although I itch to shove a few in the bag because they don’t seem to me to be earning their space. Sometimes the choice is easy, sometimes not so. Usually I keep a book because I’m convinced I’ll read it again, but occasionally it’s for sentimental reasons or an irritating completist tendency common to booksellers (and ex-booksellers so it seems) as Andy Miller mentions in The Year of Reading Dangerously. Thanks to him I’ve finally ditched all my Iris Murdochs. One book guaranteed not to be added to M’s pile is What I Loved, long treasured and I’m sure it will remain so. When she drives off with her car packed with bags it’s always a satisfying feeling: more space for the other books and I’ve proved that I can do it. I’m not the only one clearing the decks – Lizzi over at These Little Words has had it made quite clear that a few trips to the charity shop would be appreciated. What about you? Do you go in for regular pruning, and if so how do you decide what stays and what goes?