Author Topic: Emotional attachment to books  (Read 836 times)

Emotional attachment to books
« on: August 08, 2019, 01:18:36 pm »
It's odd, isn't it? Some kind of vestigial addiction? With me it started over 50 years ago and reached its apogee during my bachelor years, probably hitting close to about 100m of bookshelves. Homebuilding with Mrs Ham was the first Great Cull, coming down to, say, 50m. There have been a couple since then, each one gets successively harder to deal with, no matter that I may not have opened the book for upwards of 20 years.

This time around I have brought it down to probably less than 10m, and addressed stuff like the poetry collection. Elizabethan love poetry? Why would I want to look at that? Tennyson? There's a reason why I haven't opened his collected works since whenever. The "literature" category took a hammering as well. Yes, I know I enjoy Muriel Spark, but I can get them on Kindle now if I really want to (and, I have on occasion). Priestly? hasn't earned his space. etc.

The remains form an odd collection. 100% of Pratchett's lifetime output, mostly 1st editions. A few art books. A few odd 1st editions. A few decent car books (the indecent ones moved on in a prior clearout). A few kids books. A few, just because. Many of those it is hard to imagine not having, just sitting there is a reminder of other times.

I doubt I'm alone.

Re: Emotional attachment to books
« Reply #1 on: August 08, 2019, 01:24:52 pm »
You are not! I had a clear out of my office the other week which included throwing out copies of reference books from 2002. I know I will never need to use them again as the legislation will have changed since but blimey it hurt to throw them out.

One of the most upsetting things that ever happened to me was when we moved once from a Housing Association place into our first ever purchased property. I signed a form saying I was happy that anything left in the flat be dumped only for a week later to find that I had left 15 years of football programmes behind. I returned at once only to find that, yes they had been binned  :facepalm: At the time, that represented about a third of my life so the loss was really, really hard to take.
Cats to the left of me, cats to the right of me, cats sitting on my keyboard making far more sense than I do.

Cudzoziemiec

  • Solar powered, tea fuelled cycle-wol
Re: Emotional attachment to books
« Reply #2 on: August 08, 2019, 01:42:46 pm »
Three elements: the writing, the book as physical object, the memories and emotions associated.
"Pick a flower on Earth and you move the farthest star." Dirac.

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Emotional attachment to books
« Reply #3 on: August 08, 2019, 03:15:40 pm »
While I suffer from the psychological flaw that means I'm inclined to hoard anything that might come in useful[1], I'm actually surprisingly rubbish at being emotionally attached to objects.  I suspect it comes from spending a year with nothing more than a hastily-packed holdall containing a few official documents and a couple of changes of clothes to my name, and the expectation that I'd never see any of my other things again.  I suspect that much like people who've lost all their possessions in a fire, I tend to see objects as impermanent.

There are certainly books that I'm emotionally attached to, but as long as I can obtain another copy of the text, I'm not fussed about having a physical (or electronic) copy.  While I appreciate the aesthetic of a good shelf full of books, I'm not particularly fussed about them as physical objects.

On the other hand, I've read enough of the 1632 series to know that any written material can suddenly become useful (or sorely missed) in sufficiently weird circumstances...



[1] This mostly means tools, and I'll include reference books in that definition.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

FifeingEejit

  • Not Small
Re: Emotional attachment to books
« Reply #4 on: August 08, 2019, 05:01:11 pm »
I had plenty of reference books, mostly programming, but the attachment was more to do with having spent 50 quid on them around 2000...
That's like 75 quid now I dont' care if it's for C++ with MFC that I'll never willingly write in again, but...

Re: Emotional attachment to books
« Reply #5 on: August 08, 2019, 05:07:13 pm »
The collection of programs* from just about every play I've been to (mostly with the ticket stub stuffed into it) is up in the loft.


*Including the Tim Curry original Rock Horror Show "How to do the time warp" flyer that was wafted down from the ceiling at the end of the show.

Redlight

  • Enjoying life in the slow lane
Re: Emotional attachment to books
« Reply #6 on: August 08, 2019, 06:59:01 pm »
When Mrs Redlight and I first moved in together, we pooled our book collections and the Oxfam bookshop did very well out of the duplicates, to the extent that we had to stagger the donations because they didn't have enough storage space to take all the boxes at once*.  Despite Kindle, etc., buying books is still the default for us both but, despite turning one bedroom into a study with floor to ceiling bookshelves, we have to have an annual purge, generally triggered by the shelves overflowing into piles on the floor.  Every time it pains me because I know, from experience, that at some point I may want to go back and re-read some of them or pass them to friends whom I think might like them.  In some instances, I have even bought new copies of books that I had donated a few years before  ::-)

The truth that I am loath to admit to myself is that some of the books that  I can't contemplate parting with are never going to be opened again until after my death.  I have records and CDs that fit into this category too.  These, along with all my back issues of Prospect magazine, are the only things that I hoard and the things that I would miss most were I too be as unfortunate as Kim. 


*We undertook the same exercise with our CD collections with the result that the Oxfam shop also got a copy of The Dark Side of The Moon - and nothing else.
Between the Disney abattoir and the chemical refinery

ian

  • fatuously disingenuous
    • The Suburban Survival Guide
Re: Emotional attachment to books
« Reply #7 on: August 08, 2019, 07:16:33 pm »
I confess we got rid of most of ours (there's a pile in the summer house, and probably some moldering in the garage) – and one day we plan to get rid of the CDs and DVDs, though to be honest, I'm not sure they'll have much currency other than as historical curiosities by the time we do. The peril of rattling around in an oversize house is that we don't have a lot of pressure to get rid of stuff. The books went because we have a gin collection.

I sort of straddle the generations between solid footing of physical media and the ephemeral swamp of digital.
!nataS pihsroW

Re: Emotional attachment to books
« Reply #8 on: August 08, 2019, 07:24:54 pm »
When I moved in with MrsC we had to have a clear out. She'd already downsized from a 3-bed semi to a 2-bed flat which was pretty full before I moved in (for example, the dining table ended up under our bed). So I got rid of a lot of stuff then (why did I still have my O-level exam questions, for instance?) including books.  However, even with Kindles, we both still acquire books at a vast rate. We do have culls every so often, but they alway 'hurt'. MrsC is gradually replacing most of the fiction with Kindle versions, but a lot of what we buy is either not available electronically, or, like cookery books, works much better in physical form.
My dream home would have a proper library full of books and comfortable leather chairs for reading or working...
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Re: Emotional attachment to books
« Reply #9 on: August 08, 2019, 08:15:23 pm »
The ones I really can't part with are those with written dedications. A lot of those are quite special memories, like the book on Paris with a dedication in eyeliner. Occasionally memories are too painful to touch, but you can't discard them. Another denizen of my loft are the letters, a record of two intense relationships, a pile of correspondence several hundred deep, I don't dare touch it, I don't dare get rid of it.

ian

  • fatuously disingenuous
    • The Suburban Survival Guide
Re: Emotional attachment to books
« Reply #10 on: August 08, 2019, 08:47:48 pm »
To be fair, I do have the correspondence garnered from my first significant relationships still in a box in the loft as a lingering sentiment of the passions of a more youthful era.

The majority is on floppy disk (as we were often several thousand miles apart). There are also mixtapes, oh glorious C90s, that we made for each other and often despatched across vast oceans at not inconsiderable expense. And I think a fair number of missives penned on thin sheaves of airmail paper. Romance par avion. Of course, I expect the contents are now embarrassingly toxic enough that they should be enrobed in concrete and dropped into the deep ocean. But still, they're up there in a box, and no, don't tell my wife. I do wonder if she has similar, squirrelled away up there.
!nataS pihsroW

Re: Emotional attachment to books
« Reply #11 on: August 08, 2019, 08:57:22 pm »
*We undertook the same exercise with our CD collections with the result that the Oxfam shop also got a copy of The Dark Side of The Moon - and nothing else.

Impressive. We managed three in the same exercise: Sunscreem's O3, Revolting Cock's Beers Steers and Queers, and New Model Army's Thunder and Consolation (taken by an Ian OTP).

Books though, rather a lot. I had a work office at the same place for 11 years, which hid the issue somewhat. I'm now passing them off as loft insulation. Z80 instruction set manual, O level maths revision guide etc. Some old newspapers. I do like a programme from an art gallery. Also novels and tales of exploring interesting places.

A house move to somewhere smaller is a distinct possibility all of a sudden, and the time to say "fuck it" and move on may be arriving.

Re: Emotional attachment to books
« Reply #12 on: August 09, 2019, 10:01:05 am »
I've never kept books, despite being a voracious reader at times. But then I read mostly trash (ie not literature or literary fiction), and can only think of one or two books I'd want to read again (Andersonville by MacKinlay Kantor and Black Rain by Masuji Ibuse are notable in this category). My wife, OTOH still has books she first acquired 50 years ago, and regularly re-reads things. I read for stories, she reads for the words.
We are making a New World (Paul Nash, 1918)

Re: Emotional attachment to books
« Reply #13 on: August 09, 2019, 10:45:41 am »
What do people mean by 'getting rid of books'? Oxfam? 2nd-hand bookshop? Bonfire? Tip? I think our tip has a mini skip thing for books, but I don't know what happens to them if deposited there nor do I know if I should care.

Re: Emotional attachment to books
« Reply #14 on: August 09, 2019, 10:49:44 am »
I have given all mine to a charity shop (except for some car books that found an alternative good home)

Redlight

  • Enjoying life in the slow lane
Re: Emotional attachment to books
« Reply #15 on: August 09, 2019, 11:02:50 am »

Books though, rather a lot. I'm now passing them off as loft insulation.

I'd be wary of that. Before we had our extension built I had a structural survey done.  At the time we had a lot of books up there.  The surveyor's comment was that he hoped we liked reading in bed because there was a fair chance that one day we would find a large number of books - together with the ceiling - on the bed.
Between the Disney abattoir and the chemical refinery

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Emotional attachment to books
« Reply #16 on: August 09, 2019, 11:06:19 am »
What do people mean by 'getting rid of books'? Oxfam? 2nd-hand bookshop? Bonfire? Tip? I think our tip has a mini skip thing for books, but I don't know what happens to them if deposited there nor do I know if I should care.

Charity shop.  It might go to the recycling if it's a book on Delphi 2 programming for Windows 3.1[1] or sufficiently damaged that nobody would want to read it.


[1] Other reference materials so obsolete as to only be useful in a 1632 scenario are available.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Mr Larrington

  • A bit ov a lyv wyr by slof standirds
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Re: Emotional attachment to books
« Reply #17 on: August 09, 2019, 11:07:35 am »
What do people mean by 'getting rid of books'?

This ^^^^.  'tis an alien concept.
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Satisfying the Bloodlust of the Masses in Peacetime

Kim

  • Timelord
Re: Emotional attachment to books
« Reply #18 on: August 09, 2019, 11:08:11 am »
What do people mean by 'getting rid of books'?

This ^^^^.  'tis an alien concept.

It's what happens when your housing isn't secure, or you live in a filing cabinet drawer in That London.
Careful, Kim. Your sarcasm's showing...

Re: Emotional attachment to books
« Reply #19 on: August 09, 2019, 11:45:07 am »
I think I'm going to have to have a cull shortly.  There's a table in the living room piled high with unread books & I've nowhere to put them .   I suspect a load of old SF books will go to the local Oxfam.    Some cycling ones or guides to forrin parts may be offered on here.   I doubt I'll ever get around to riding the Great Divide trail, or will be returning to the Himalaya, so someone else may as well have the use of them. 
Not fast & rarely furious

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Cudzoziemiec

  • Solar powered, tea fuelled cycle-wol
Re: Emotional attachment to books
« Reply #20 on: August 10, 2019, 12:24:53 pm »
I suspect a load of old SF books will go to the local Oxfam.   
If there's a choice of Oxfam/BHF/etc charity bookshops locally, choose wisely. Not only in terms of the one you want to support but if you have a look, you might find some specialise in certain types of book. Your old SF will do most good if donated directly to the shop with most old SF.
"Pick a flower on Earth and you move the farthest star." Dirac.

Wowbagger

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Re: Emotional attachment to books
« Reply #21 on: August 12, 2019, 09:20:53 am »
I definitely need a cull. I have a load of chess books, some reputed to be quite valuable, that I haven’t looked at for years...

Some years ago I was at a fete at the primary school I attended as a Baggerlet. There was a sale of second hand books and amongst them I spied a copy of John Wyndham short stories. We had had a copy of it at home when I was young which I think my brother bought. I remember really enjoying them, particularly “Chocky”, so I bought it.

There, inside the front cover in familiar handwriting, was my brother’s name.
Oh, Bach without any doubt. Bach every time for me.

citoyen

  • Cat 6 Racer
Re: Emotional attachment to books
« Reply #22 on: August 19, 2019, 06:23:56 pm »
I suspect a load of old SF books will go to the local Oxfam.   
If there's a choice of Oxfam/BHF/etc charity bookshops locally, choose wisely. Not only in terms of the one you want to support but if you have a look, you might find some specialise in certain types of book. Your old SF will do most good if donated directly to the shop with most old SF.

Abebooks used to be the online equivalent of Charing Cross Road, don't know if it still is. My wife raised a good few quid out of selling some of her mum's old jazz books (not a euphemism) that way.

I am minded to clear out the majority of my bookshelves but there's hardly anything on there that will even be worth donating to the charity shop. The only books I really want to keep are my Everyman Wodehouse - though I'm still missing a dozen or so before I have a complete set, and I suspect they'll never be worth anything anyway, not seriously collectable enough.

When it comes to actual reading, I'm Team Kindle.

Cudzoziemiec

  • Solar powered, tea fuelled cycle-wol
Re: Emotional attachment to books
« Reply #23 on: August 19, 2019, 07:22:19 pm »
They'll be worth something to a charity shop, even if only the pulp value. Which is kinda sad but better than nothing.
"Pick a flower on Earth and you move the farthest star." Dirac.

Re: Emotional attachment to books
« Reply #24 on: August 19, 2019, 07:47:13 pm »
I had a big clearout last year, having finally accepted that I really wasn't going to read some of the stuff ever again (textbooks that I barely touched as a student, and hadn't opened at all in the >15 years since!). Why are books so hard to part with? ???

I do use my Kindle a fair bit now, and it's good for the kind of stuff I'll want to read once, but I don't think I'll ever be able to do away with proper books.

(Just don't get me started on sheet music hoarding. It breeds! :facepalm:)