Well! I didn’t think I would have got this far but I have emptied some of my bookshelves in the first episode in the great Spring clearance. This is the tip of the proverbial iceberg though because there are other bookshelves on the two floors below my study.
I am doing a major rethink about the books I need to keep.
Novels – well no, there just isn’t the room so hundreds of books have been committed to the Oxfam shop pile. All the novels except, well, Ulysses, of course, because that is more than a novel more a manifesto for why I first wanted to be a writer – that and Joyce’s other life-changing book, The Portrait Of An Artist As A Young Man. i cannot live in a house without either of those books.
Oh, yes, and Middlemarch – is there a better Nineteenth century English novel? I think not but i need to keep Wuthering Heights too.
So I will be a good boy with the novels – oh yes, I forgot, I will have to keep the novels of Patricia Heighsmith, Strangers On A Train and the Ripley books, the Saki short stories, Graham Greene’s Our Man In Havana, and, also no question, all of Scott Fitzgerald and E.M. Forster. Well, I love all of these books and, if it doesn’t sound too pompous, refer to them constantly as sources of original inspiration.
So I will try to get rid of most of the rest….well maybe not Berlin Alexanderplatz or Ulverton or Goodbye To Berlin or even the books written by some of the novelists I have been lucky enough to have met – William Burroughs, Anthony Burgess, Scott Thurow and Garrison Keillor.
Then, I will let most of the rest go – I promise.
Apart from novels, I will keep my poetry collection, my Arden editions of Shakespeare, art books and exhibition catalogues, and books about classical music, gardening, martial arts, reference books and dictionaries, natural history and either the most modern books about world history or the works that I have loved since I was a student.
I am still in a quandary about biographies….can I get rid of Alfred Hitchcock, Dennis Potter, Joan Sutherland or David Lynch even Quentin Tarrantino? I think not.
One day, of course, I shall buy a Kindle (a computer book, if you don’t know about these things) but I shall never totally forget my love of paper books.
Wish me luck.