Culling my library

I am a confessed book lover.

Most writers are, I’ve found. If you want to be a good writer you are also a reader. That’s a given.

I am also slightly addicted to buying and collecting books. When I married – that was over 40 years ago – combining my library with my wife’s library created a big problem. She is also a bookaholic, and a hoarder of books like me. In our first year of marriage I built two large bookcases. Problem solved – for the time being. Then came along the children and they soon had their books too and their own bookcases. When they left home the problem was slightly improved; part of my library is now in my daughter’s home in Clare and a few are in my son’s home in Sydney. It’s alright; I’ve read most of those books.

About 5 years ago I bought another 4 bookshelves from a well known furniture chain from Scandinavia. I had fun assembling them and stocking them with books. You see, the problem had grown to a critical stage: there were large piles of books everywhere. Problem solved – or so I thought. Over recent months the situation has reached another crisis point: not enough room on the shelves for new and recently acquired books.

My office has been in need of a drastic makeover for several years. The situation would make any bomb site look tidy in comparison. Time for action, so over several hot days recently – it was too unpleasant working in the garden – I attacked ground zero.

My technique is simple: sort and chuck. (Some unkind people might have suggested ‘slash and burn’ would have been more effective.) I progressively sorted through every item on the shelves. Some items didn’t belong – like dozens of computer disks. It’s a BOOK shelf – not a storage cupboard. Some books were obsolete and went straight into our recycling bin. I don’t need a copy of a guide to Microsoft Windows 95 or Word for Windows 6 for Dummies or even a 1998 Melbourne street directory. I have a more current version of the directory and don’t need another, and the computer books are now many years obsolete.

The trouble was that I have trouble throwing away books. I can give them away, I can let people borrow semi-permanently, I can even sell to a second hand book dealer – but throw away! Never!

I’ve changed.

I have to be ruthless and dispose of any book I will no longer read. Some I want to read again – maybe, so I might keep a few. Over the next year the culling will continue until I have enough room on the shelves for the books I want to read again, or I need to use as reference tools.

Now… what about that huge pile of magazines?

Good reading, and good writing.

Write what you love

“You’ve got to love libraries. You’ve got to love books. You’ve got to love poetry. You’ve got to loveĀ  everything about literature. Then, you can pick the one thing you love most and write about it.” Ray Bradbury

I love libraries – all those books on all those different topics, all those wonderful adventures to be enjoyed and pictures to be enjoyed. In fact, I love libraries so much that in another life I was a librarian for about eight years. I loved buying new books for the library – especially seeing it wasn’t my money buying the books!

I love books too. I have a huge collection of books. I can’t bear to get rid of any books. Throwing outĀ  a book is akin to loosing a child. Talking of children, I love visiting my adult children, especially my daughter, so that I can become reacquainted with a part of my library. To be fair, some of her books grace my library shelves – only on a temporary basis of course – until I’ve read them.

I always loved poetry too and I’ve written my fair share of poems, from the slightly ridiculous, to the positively banal and some that are absolutely brilliant (IMHO). This year my skills at writing poetry have had a great boost while doing my Master of Arts in Creative Writing course.

But back to the quote from Bradbury.

Writers must be readers. Read widely and voraciously. Love and cherish books. Get your hands on as many as you can; read, read, read, devouring books in numbers.

Then you can pick the one genre or form or discipline you love most, and then write what you love.

Good reading and writing.