I saw a post on Facebook the other day asking people what their favourite book was from high school. Which got me to thinking about books that I have re-read over the years. It’s something that’s been on my mind recently as we’re cleaning out our bookshelves. As most of you know I used to work at Penguin Books. So I have a lot, and I mean a LOT of books. Six full length bookcases with every shelf double rowed, books stacked horizontaly on top of the rows and an additional three boxes of books stored in cupboards. Oh, and another stack in the ‘present’ cupboard.
So when we decided to rearrange the house the other day…obviously not the house itself because it’s, you know, immovable. But the contents of various rooms are being moved around and something had to give as we are running out of room. You can read that as ‘having too much junk’. So we concluded that we had to start with the humungous amount of books. We were able to arrive at that decision in a number of ways. My nostalgia and sentiments for books with a certain logo on them have changed and I feel it is quite cathartic to burn…I mean clean out some of those memories. We decided there are a good many books that whilst we enjoyed them we’ll never re-read them again. And we have set a challenge to whittle them down to just three bookcases, or one room’s worth rather than two.
So far we have discarded about 200 books and are only a quarter of the way there. I wasn’t surprised to find that a number of those were because I had multiple copies of the same book…A Day in the Life of Soltzenitskyn, Macbeth, Hamlet, Breakfast at Tiffany’s, Frankenstein, Communist Manifesto, Bhagavad Gita (I dont really need four copies of that so its doen to one), Cloudstreet (I do need three copies but managed to remove one), Alice in Wonderland (and I’ve still never read it!), Oliver Twist, Gulliver’s Travels, A Christmas Carol, Pride and Prejudice, and Paradise Lost x 3, so lost two. Oh, and two complete sets of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings…but the original set is my childhood set, re-read and falling apart and something I can’t part with and another set in hardback republished with the original jacket artwork so I can’t part with those either.
So, as I went through the books…I’ve been through them now three times trying to cull more each time with a determined ruthlessness that quickly fades to sentiment each and every time, I came across a number of books that I know I WILL read again – not the only books I will re-read again but they are books that I love and think about often and are amongst the two to three hundred that I’m keeping. And I think it’s nearly time to open one up again…
So, here they are, books that have made it to my keep list because I know I’ll re-read them even though I’ve already read them multiple times:
The Epic of Gilgamesh
The Power and the Glory
Lord of the Flies
And the Loser in all of this that somehow still gets a win is the one and only book that I can’t throw out but know I will never ever read again because just the thought of it fills me with despair…1984.
‘How can I hope to see but what is in front of my eyes. Two and two are four.’
‘Sometimes, Winston. Sometimes they are five. Sometimes they are three. Sometimes they are all of them at once. You must try harder. It is not easy to become sane.’
Hmm, maybe I will put it into the re-read pile after all…