I Murdered My Library by Linda Grant

Following on from yesterday’s post on books I’ve read recently and not reviewed, I have three more I have not written about and here is one of them:

I Murdered My Library by Linda Grant. This is an essay of just 28 pages in which Linda Grant tells about moving house and downsizing her considerable book collection to fit into a small flat. She had had books everywhere:

Books multiplied, books swarmed; they were a papery population explosion. When they had exhausted the shelves, they started to take over the stairs. You cannot have a taste for minimalist decor if you seriously read books.

Well, I know all about that and all about trying to find more space for books or to reduce my book collection, so I really liked this little e-book. Linda Grant can read my mind – and those of many other book-lovers, I’m sure – as she went through her books deciding which ones could go. It could be me saying this too:

I am kidding myself if I think that I am going to reread a fraction of the books I have brought with me or a fraction of those I have never got round to reading.

In my youth, I imagined old age and retirement as the time when one sat back, relaxed and read. There would be all the time in the world for reading. Sixty was so far away, and 80 stretching out into a future not imaginable, that you might as well be talking about living forever. Now time gobbles up my life.

I have tried, but I’ve never managed to be as ruthless as she was, never seen empty bookshelves and I doubt I ever will, because there have been so many books I’ve given away only to realise later that I want to re-read/read them, or to look up a reference. So it’s made me think twice, or even ten times before I actually part with a book. And indeed as Linda Grant looks at her shelves of the books she has kept she mourns the ones she killed off!

17 thoughts on “I Murdered My Library by Linda Grant

  1. I’ve had one or two ruthless culling sessions and so far have only regretted one or two losses. (I let Will Randall’s three travel books which I loved go to the charity shop and this week thought, ‘WHAT was I thinking?????’) Otherwise it’s been ok. My real problem is that I’m still buying books so the shleves never really look as though I’ve done anything at all. LOL!


    1. That’s part of my problem too, Cath – I let a few books go and replace them with more and I’ve got so, so many on my Kindle too, so the books on the shelves are just the tip of the iceberg.


    1. Vicki, when I first got my Kindle I thought I’d be able to use it to replace the paper versions of some of the classics – but I’ve kept them and still read the e-versions as they’re easier to see on the Kindle. 🙂


  2. I enjoyed this – while I struggle to read novels on my Kindle, this was the perfect length. I’d struggle to be as ruthless as her too, unless I really was downsizing.


  3. I’m going to have to become ruthless with my enormous book collection because we will be moving from a big farmhouse to a small assisted living apartment within the next year. Since it even pains me to get rid of ARCs, I’m sure this is going to be traumatic, particularly when it comes to my American history nonfiction collection although those books are going to my alma mater. Wish me luck.


  4. Margaret – I’m fairly certain I couldn’t be that ruthless either. Books are always the last things I’m willing to even consider culling…


  5. I read the article in the Guardian a few weeks ago, I’ve managed to get rid of a few books but in the past I’ve regretted it so I’m very careful now. Selling our house was an eyeopener as the estate agent managed to take photos of the inside without showing one book and we have them all over the place. They hate books apparently – which says it all!


    1. Now you’ve mentioned it Katrina, I’ve realised that our estate agent did the same – no bookcases in the photos and we had them in nearly every room! And I also noticed that there weren’t many houses we viewed that had any books on display or much space for them either, which meant that they were no good for us.


  6. Oh she is a brave person, I’m not sure I’m anywhere near doing that. I went through a small portion of painting magazines the other day and only parted with two out of the way too many.


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