Friday 10 July 2020

Shelf Life #5

Photo by LAUREN GRAY on Unsplash

Shelf Life is a personal meme to help me in my ongoing attempt to declutter my bookshelves.
However it's more than a Marie Condo of my books.
It's aim is to reflect, honour and let go as many books as possible.

Most likely, in the next 12 months or so, Mr Books and I will be on the move. The thought of packing up everything we own again, gives me the horrors.

Therefore as time permits, I will reassess the many, many READ books stacked on my bookshelves. (The unread TBR pile is another story all together!)

The aim of Shelf Life is to let go those books that I know I will never read again and to give them a proper send off.

My assessment criteria includes:
  • Does this book spark joy?
  • Honestly, will I ever reread this book?
  • How and why did this book come to be on my bookshelf anyway?
  • When and where did I read this book?
  • What are my memories of this book?
  • Is this book part of a series, a signed copy or a special edition?
  • Do I want to pack and unpack this book one more time? Or several more times, during what's left of my lifetime?
  • If I were to let this book go, would I feel regret, remorse or relief?

My latest Shelf Life choices look a little like this:
  • The Dark Room | Rachel Seiffert
    • Purchased on the 23rd March 2002 in Mudgee
    • Seiffert has a German mother and an Australian father, but now lives in London.
    • This was her first novel in 2001.
    • I bought this book because of it's Holocaust themes, especially the guilt felt by subsequent generations and responsibility of individuals.
    • It was shortlisted for the 2001 Booker Prize.
    • I remember almost nothing about this book and feel no need to reread it,
    • Perhaps I am finally over my over my Holocaust obsession?
  • Tinkers | Paul Harding
    • Purchased on the 10th August 2010 in Sydney
    • Winner of the 2010 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction
    • This was Harding's debut novel
    • A follow up novel, Enon, was published in 2013.
    • A wonderful, delicate story about time, memory, suffering and the small stuff that makes up our daily lives. 
    • The writing was gorgeous, full of memorable word pictures that have stayed with more nine years.
    • I loved the reading experience I had with this book, but I do not need to reread this. 

  • Miss Smilla's Feeling For Snow | Peter Høeg
    • A secondhand bookshop purchased prior to my first skiing holiday in 2006.
    • Published in Denmark in 1992 as Frøken Smillas Fornemmelse for Sne.
    • Translated from the Danish by F. David in 1993.
    • A book that begins with a map (Copenhagen) is already on the way to becoming a favourite.
    • I loved reading a book set in the snow, in the snow.
    • The book was very different to the movie.
    • I preferred the book, but once was enough.

Have you read any of these books? 
Should they stay or should they go?

Shelf Life #5


  1. I love Miss Smilla's Sense for Snow. I read some of his other books, but this really stands out.
    I have lately been overwhelmed over not being able to fit new books into my shelves. After much discussion with myself I have now reached an agreement with my two selves; keeping books or giving away. I don't give away everything. My regime now is to keep non-fiction books (most of them anyway, but I do give away some, if I find them not too interesting). The good thing with non-fiction books are that you can always use them as references. Most of my non-fiction books are history and biography, so it seems like a good idea to keep.
    As my fiction books concerns, I do given them most of the away, unless I really, really love the book. I still have a lot of non-read books, but with this scenario I can easily see the books that gave me a lot of joy! They don't disappear among all the other books which were good, but did not spark joy.
    This scheme has given me a lot of joy, I feel lighter not having to take care of books that I know I will not read again.
    Another scheme I have established is, if I don't like the book at all, I find it peculiar, I have no joy reading it, then I don't read it and it goes away. There are so many good books out there so I don't have to waste my time on books I don't like.
    I hope you will find a good balance between keeping and giving away. I do still have Miss Smilla's Sense for Snow on my shelf! One day I will write a post about the books I keep. Good luck!

    1. I'd love to see your two selves having this conversation!
      I haven't even looked at my non-fiction shelf yet, but I think, like you, I will find that I will want to keep most of them. Non-fiction is less of an impulse buy for me - I'm usually buying something with a topic or subject matter that really interests me. One read through doesn't necessarily make that interest go away.

      Whereas my fiction reads can be impulsive and very much subject to my mood. I can really enjoy a book (like Smilla) but also know I will never read it again. I remember the skiing holiday I took the book on, but I don't have any memory of actually reading the book. I had a LOT going on that year in my personal life. Normally I can picture myself in certain places reading certain books at certain times in my life, and that becomes part of the joy of the book, but Smilla didn't stand a chance in 2006.

      Hmmmm, maybe I should save it after all. It's also a book that I think Mr Books would enjoy too....

  2. I have only read Tinkers and it was definitely NOT a book for me. I'm impressed that you know exactly where your books came from! I have no idea where most of what is on my shelves was bought.

    1. I used to inscribe all my books with my name, date and place of purchase. Now I only do it with the books I really, really, really want to keep of have bought in a special place (while on holidays etc).

  3. I give nothing away! I am going to reflect on that statement. Meanwhile, I give no books away, ever, though I must grin and bear it when the kids take them. With my daughter at least, it is just a matter of being on a shelf in another house. My son on the other hand abandons books wherever he is at the moment he finishes them (he might be a foundling). I not only don't give up my own books, I have on shelves and in boxes under beds my father's and my grandfathers' books. I kept all my childhood, teenage and young adult books, carried them in kombis and caravans through the perilous and sometimes homeless years of my twenties, have them still, in my bedroom, my study, in shelves where my grandchildren can read them. I will never let them go. (Bill)

    1. If I had kept all the books I've ever read or even just bought, there'd be no room in the Kombi or the caravan for anything else! But I do understand you philosophy.
      I'm only letting go some books for purely practical, pragmatic purposes. The special books are not up for consideration here. They may have to feature in the own future posts about the books I've read and loved pre-blogging :-)

  4. I loved Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow but like you I can't see myself re-reading it, but I have so regretted giving many books away in the past so I'm hanging on to my copy. We had a huge move about six years ago after being in the same home for 26 years so I understand the need to get rid of stuff, but I ditched clothes and furniture and we got a great removal company. They made it painless - well almost.


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