Today I give you a couple of short extracts from The Novel Cure: An A to Z of Literary Remedies by Ella Berthoud & Susan Elderkin (I wrote about it here) in the spirit of offering some food for thought. We'll begin with the uncompromising - and possibly terrifying - instruction:
"Reader, cull your books.
Do it every six months, and aim to cut your library by at least ten per cent each time. Give away any books you failed to finish or forced yourself to finish. Take to a charity shop those books that disappointed you. Keep only books that fit into the following categories: books you loved, books which are beautiful objects in themselves, books you consider to be important, edifying or otherwise necessary, books which you might return to one day, and books to keep for your children. Everything else is just bits of paper taking up space*. This way, you will keep your library fresh and make room for new additions.
*As Susan Hill says in her lovely Howards End is on the Landing: A year of reading from home [post on it here], 'You don't have to pay its rent just because it is a book'."
On now to those 'new additions' to keep your library fresh, and one of the authors' prescriptions for this is,
"Create a Current Reading shelf. This should ... contain the half-dozen books next up on your 'to read' list. Keep the turnover on this shelf brisk. Because rule number one is that you can only buy a new book when one of the other books on your Current Reading shelf has been read and returned to its place on your general shelves. Rule number two is that you must read the books on this shelf in the order in which they arrive, more or less. And rule number three is that if any of the books are leap-frogged more than once, or stay on the shelf for more than four months, they go to a friend or a charity shop."
What do you think? Would that work for you?