Books and booklists

I love books and I have a moved houses an awful lot. The thing that has always taken up the most room is my books, when I last moved there was 6 huge packing crates of them and I decided that enough was enough. Moving them around was literally carting a lot of baggage around with me. So I have sent an awful lot of books to the charity shop and managed to sell quite a few as well. Some of them I have bought again on my Kindle, I love my Kindle so much. So, so much. In the past when I went on holiday I would bring one book per day, plus a few extra (depending on how long I was going for), plus more for the travel. My bags have got a lot lighter now I have my Kindle.

My ebook wishlist currently stands at over 200.

I like not having my books cluttering up the place, I like the space that is left behind by them. I still have another crate in the loft that I need to deal with, although these are books that I have an emotional connection with and this is much harder to break. I still have a few books for reference and some art books too, which I like flicking through particularly when I am not feeling well.

I borrow a huge amount from our library – I am really lucky it is free inter-library loans from across the whole of Essex, which makes me really happy. I am still tempted to join my Uni library as an alumni so that I get access to all of their books again, but it is quite expensive – £220 a year. But still, that is cheaper than buying all of the books I want to access, but it does mean going into London.

It can be quite hard to manage my ‘want to read’ list – I get reading suggestions from bibliographies of books I have just finished, recommendations from authors I like, from the Vaginal Fantasy reading group and articles I read online. If they are in bibliographies or a couple of recommendations I tend to search for them on Amazon and store them in my private ebook wishlist. When my library reservation list is getting a bit light I will search for them there and reserve them if they are available. If it is lists of books I clip the article as an Evernote page and save them in my reading notebook, that way I always have recommendations to hand.

This article has been inspired by Ryan Holiday’s article on how he reads and takes notes. I was quite riled at how hescorned people using the library.

One related note: I don’t check books out from the library and haven’t since I was a child. This isn’t like renting a mindless movie. You should be keeping the books you read for reference and for re-reading. If you are OK giving the books back after two weeks you might want to examine what you are reading

I think that is just plain wrong (although I love his idea of notetaking) and seem extremely snobby to me- although I am not sure that Americans like to be thought of as snobbish, I think that is quite an English thing. The library is a wonderful resource, everyone should have access to a library. Also American houses are so, so much bigger than English ones.  And although he argues the excellent point that book are an investment, not everyone has the funds to invest.

I was listening to an This American Life podcast called Three Miles and I was horrified and appalled that a school didn’t have a library. The library has always been one of my favourite places, I was a library Prefect at school (as well as a PE and form Prefect) – which meant I had the power to use the laminator. Oh yes, the heady power. But it also meant I could issue books and help keep the library a quiet and safe space for people. I also helped other children to find books for their work. I can’t imagine being a child at school and not having the library to escape to. One of most favourite memories of recent years is doing my MA and sitting in the silent study area with a stack of books next to me, with my notebook, pen and taking notes. Oh and the time I went to the British Library to work? Oh! I was in heaven. Unfortunately as I am no longer a student I don’t think I can get membership there again.

So, I guess it could be counter-intuitive for me to get rid of my books – but I prefer simplicity over stacks of physical books, and I have a massive stack of virtual ones, as well as the few I have kept and my current library ones. But I don’t like keeping things for the sake of it and I hope that by giving my vast collection to the charity shop and for the more valuable and esoteric ones to sell second hand I hope to give others a chance to read them at a lower cost than new. One of the downsides for me of ebooks is not being able to share them in the same way as physical books, but the convenience and lightness of my Kindle really does win out for me.

I am sure that my glasses prescription are as strong as they are because I used to read under the bedcovers at night by torchlight after I had been told to go to bed!

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