The Book of Knowledge


So um… yeah. I spent my weekend organising my books and gave myself a horrible fright. I am a book hoarder. While other people may well have already realised this truth about me, I was not aware until I took it into my head to count my books and discovered that I own more than 1500 thousand real books and have 962 virtual ones shoved into my Kindle. Nearly 2500 books! Even I can see that that is nuts.

One would imagine that most have been read and are lingering in my life because I love them so. But readers, oh dear, darling readers, this simply isn’t true. You see being terribly good occasionally at taking my own advice, I am rather fanatical about taking the books I have read and enjoyed and for the most part (unless of course they are life-changing!) passing them on. I give them to friends. I leave little piles of paperbacks on my neighbours doorstep. I take them back to the free book shops. I deliver them to charity shops. I delete them from my Kindle. And occasionally, if I have scrawled private notes in the margins I even bin them. (So shoot me.) In short I am a responsible book passer-on.

So those lurking on the book shelves are not the read, but a tempting mixture of reference, the revered and the many, many, many unread. It is a bookish scandal. I am not so much a reader, but an obsessive collector. A hoarder. I will die buried under a bookshelf weighted down by words I should have absorbed, for isn’t it true that lurking in my kindle could be the kind of words that could change the course of my life in the same way that simple Abundance once did?

And so over the course of the odd weekend that has just gone by, I took it into my head to set myself a project. To start with my real bookshelves and one by one to pick out each book and decide once and for all whether it is worthy of a place on my over-stuffed bookshelves. To scan each in turn and pluck from it’s pages the paragraphs, quotes, ideas and recipes for life I am inspired by and then write them down in a big blank pad I am christening The Book of Knowledge. And then give it away. Give it back. Or offer it to charity.

I should take this further. I should start an entirely new blog, called Adventures in the Great Un-read or something equally as inspired and make one of those curious resolutions to not buy a single new book, real or virtual for an entire year, until I have reduced my shelves to three books. But Darlings, I am Alison. Book-hunting is one of my greatest pleasures. I get giddy when I un-earth something wonderful. I make my Mum smile each and every Friday by meeting her in Southport already laden with a stack of cheap books from the remaindered store and oh too many blissful nights have been lost to prowling around Amazon and Gutenberg to even contemplate giving them up.

But I will be limiting myself. I will be operating a two out, one in policy and making a commitment to adding a little something to my Book of Knowledge daily. If only so that the bookshelves don’t cause the collapse of these 150 year old Victorian floorboards or indeed so that my darling Kindle doesn’t blow a fuse trying to keep up with my relentless downloading.

There now: a plan. I do love this kind of sensible, decisive Monday don’t you?

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6 comments on “The Book of Knowledge

  1. Now today I was spring cleaning my bedroom and I carried out 45 books from beside my bed and double stacked on the dressing table, so you are not alone in this Alison! Have you read Howard’s End is on the Landing by Susan Hill?

  2. Julie Morgan on said:

    From one book hoarder to another – you are not alone.

  3. Once again our lives are mirroring each other! We have started our move, and the new house is empty except for a sea of books in the living room! We didn’t realise how little wall space there is, so have had to get rid of one bookcase, and another one may have to live upstairs!

  4. Amanda on said:

    I have a lot of books but, YOU WIN! As for me, I could use some more Alison May books and keep looking daily for some springtime “puttery treats”.

  5. I don’t know if ‘you win’ or not: I have never counted mine! I have periodically taken many to the charity shop, and gave (almost) all my Nursing books to my niece, who is a student nurse. In spite of all this I have had to buy a new bookcase recently and I still don’t have space.Many of the books I have read, and some are my ‘comfort’ books, to be read in times of need, but some have not yet been opened.