It’s the time of year to de-clutter the bookshelves

January is traditionally a time for new beginnings. We all make our resolutions. We turn over a new leaf. We plan that trip to the gym. We tidy up our lives. At least we try. And in that spirit of renewal I thought it was time for me to de-clutter my bookshelves (or at least to take a second look). I am, after all, an author. I write some of those books we keep on our shelves. I am also an avid reader and collector! But there comes a moment when you must take stock, and for me, this is it!

All around the house, the shelves are groaning under the weight of books. Books lie piled in the corners of rooms. The cupboards are bursting. The spare room is full. The attic is full. Books lie abandoned on bedside cabinets, under the bed, on coffee tables, even in the kitchen…

What can I say? I’ve always found adding books to my collection very, very easy. I love books. Their design, their texture, their smell! I love the very experience of turning over pages. And I love getting lost within the written word, as the storytelling lures me down the winding path that leads to adventure, discovery, enlightenment and new worlds…

And of course, like all readers, I have my favourite authors and favourite books. If I look up from my keyboard and turn my head towards my “favourites” bookshelf I can read names like, Tolkien, Dickens, Philip Pullman, Robert Westall, Robert Louis Stephenson, Douglas Adams, Terry Pratchet, Ursula Le Guin, C S Lewis, George Orwell, Laurie Lee, and oh, so many more. Then there is my second “favourite” bookshelf in my office (only there because my first “favourite” bookshelf is full up.)

Well, I think you get the picture. (And I haven’t even mentioned my “invisible” books – my ebooks – or my antiquarian collection.)

There are lots of reasons collections get out of hand, because there are lots of reasons we keep books. There are books I love so much I simply must have them around me. And not in only one edition either! For example, I have at least four editions of Treasure Island, and three editions of A Christmas Carol! There are the books I constantly return to. The books I will never get tired of re-reading. There are the books I wrote myself (oh yes, they too are on my bookshelves) and the treasured books given to me by my fellow authors. There are the books I grew up with, old and worn, and there are the brand new books by authors I’ve only just discovered (always a delight). There are books both fiction and non-fiction. There are dictionaries, there are biographies, histories, art books, graphic novels, comic books, poetry…

But enough procrastination! It’s now time to do something about it.

How will I go about my de-clutter? Where will I start? Well, what about those books which are merely trophies? You know… the books we all keep on our bookshelves to impress, or simply because we think they should be there? Am I truly ever going to read that ancient copy of “— — —–”? And what about the books I’ve bought on a whim, always meaning to read, but just never quite getting around to them? Or the books that were given to me as gifts because friends and family were certain I would like them, yet they remain forever unread. Then there are the books I have inherited, the books I’ve been given for free, the books I keep simply because, well, because I collect books.

As I begin my task I shall ask myself only one question. “Do I need this book?” Wish me luck. Or try it yourself. (I’ll let you know how I get on.)

Here are some of my favourite books that will be staying on my shelves…
Treasure Island by Robert Louis StevensonThe Earthsea Trilogy by Ursula K. Le GuinThe Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, #1) by Douglas AdamsSkallagrigg by William HorwoodHis Dark Materials (His Dark Materials #1-3) by Philip PullmanThe Lord of the Rings (The Lord of the Rings, #1-3) by J.R.R. TolkienSophie's World by Jostein GaarderRedwall (Redwall, #1) by Brian JacquesCider With Rosie by Laurie LeeAnimal Farm by George OrwellThe Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (Chronicles of Narnia, #1) by C.S. LewisThe Star of Kazan by Eva IbbotsonThe Call of the Wild by Jack LondonHowl's Moving Castle (Howl's Moving Castle, #1) by Diana Wynne JonesGraynelore by Stephen MooreThe Machine-Gunners by Robert WestallThe Andromeda Strain by Michael CrichtonThe Nature Of The Beast by Janni HowkerA Christmas Carol and Other Christmas Writings by Charles Dickens

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