Saturday, November 2, 2013

The Empty Bookshelf

I'm a big reader. This year alone, while jetting (and jettisoning!) around the world, I've read 54 books.
(Shall we be friends on Goodreads?)

But if you come to my house (which is kind of temporary at the moment, admittedly), you'll find my bookshelves surprisingly sparse. Little evidence of my love of literature and respect for the written word. Not even an e-reader sitting on my bedside table.

What gives?

Don't you browse the books when you visit a new friend's house? Silently weigh up their tastes, and hence the prospects for your budding friendship? I know I do.

I worry that someone looking at my shelves would make the wrong assessment. And I don't want to make an uneducated impression!

 photo IMG_4566_zps77ada76a.jpg
Getting my book fix on a quiet afternoon at Reykjavik library.

I was discussing this with a friend today as we went shopping for second-hand books. How to balance a love of reading with a desire for minimalism and not accruing stuff? Rarely do I reread, but I do like having my favourites close to hand. But even without a stocked shelf, I am never without something to read.

It all comes down to my love of libraries. What a brilliant system! Being able to share in collective knowledge, read, and let go without occupying valuable storage space at home! I love it all the more now that South Australia has introduced the one card system, where you can reserve, borrow and return books from any collection at any library across the state.

So should I be holding on to my last few boxes of books (currently stored in a friend's garage - thanks S!), given that I can request my favourite titles easily and speedily? Is there much point these days in having a bookshelf? Is there another way that I can keep track of those tomes I adored? I'd love to hear your thoughts about what having your own library means in this era of the ebook.


  1. I used to collect a bunch of books, now they gather dust in storage boxes and I'm having problems getting rid of them. Nowadays I use a Kindle for all my reading, it's so convenient.

    1. How do you mean, having problems getting rid of them? Nobody wants them and they can't be recycled? Or is it difficult letting go?

      I imagine a Kindle would be perfect for long-haul flights!

  2. Yay, you're back on the radar...thank you for your lovely comment...
    I am also a big reader, and I LOVE to reread...I keep a lot of books for that purpose, some give me comfort, some I just love SO much for various reasons, most likely language, like any Jane Austen, or just because the writer expresses my feelings so beautifully, something I simply CANNOT do....I just cannot do without a book or two in my daily life. Bad Hair looks to be essential to any reference library.
    I shall find you on goodreads, hopefully. X

    1. Yes and yes to books bringing comfort, and authors being able to express your most complicated emotions when your own words fail.
      Thank you for your kind comment.

  3. o, and I do in fact have a Kindle; essential for travel, I find, as I need to carry a LOT of books as I am a bit of a speed reader...which isn't necessarily good. Can't find you on Goodreads, I am Helga, obviously. I do not judge. I love to see what is on peoples bookshelves,I always have a good perve, but I don't actually give a shit. As long as you can actually READ, I am impressed!!!! And I love to find new shit through people, as I am too lazy to find it myself!

    1. Totally agree with giving people props for just reading in the first place (which is why I hesitate to dismiss Twilight, 50 Shades etc as at least they are encouraging people to read!)
      Happy to have found you on Goodreads, hurrah!