My father once told me: “There are three things you can never throw away without feeling guilty. Those things are music, instruments and books.” Having heard his complaints about selling his organ (the instrument), I believe he knew what he was talking about.
Since I made the pledge to de-clutter my library*, life hasn’t exactly been easy. I find myself (literally) surrounded by books I used to love just because there’s something about them that appeals to me, or, even more difficult, that used to appeal to me. How do I get from just collecting books to maintaining a good and humble library without vigorously killing my darlings?
I started thinking about my library as a collection and not just a big heap of randomly bought books. I found that I can divide them into a few sections. The first four sections contain four mini libraries in itself and are proof for my hoarding experience at its worst. Firstly there is the almost complete oeuvre of Arnon Grunberg. Secondly, I also posses the almost complete oeuvre of Kristien Hemmerechts.** Thirdly, there is a fun and rather freaky and dark mix of books about the destruction of Dresden during the Second World War. Fourthly, I posses the almost complete oeuvre of Martin Bril. The other sections contain a few bits and bops like some fantasy, Cathy Kelly-like books and the usual classics and some history books.
So, this idea I had about my books being randomly picked doesn’t seem to be quite right. More strikingly, they are much more than that: they are kind of the soundtrack to different phases in my life. In most cases I’m not really interested anymore in their content, but feel for them like parts of my life.
But here is the bottom line: when your library feels more like a shrine to you than well, a library, then you have a problem. I strongly believe that I have this problem. So yes, I’m keeping myself to the pledge. After all, even dads are wrong sometimes.
* And everyone knows that the moment you start referring to your books as your library means that you are hopelessly lost.
** Fun fact: one of the books is signed by the author but I paid less than 5 euros for it. God, I miss De Slegte.
Written by Francisca Priem, YA book clubber and fervent keeper of guinea pigs.