Books

A Discussion: Do you/should you keep books that you have no intention of re-reading?

It has been ages since I last did a discussion post and I’m so pleased to be bringing one to you today. Discussion posts are some of my favourite things to read from other bloggers, and they are always fun to write and chat about afterwards, so I do hope you enjoy reading this one!

The above question is one that I’ve often thought about, usually when I’m trying to ram yet another book onto my already overflowing bookshelves. It also quite often pops into my mind when I decide I’m going to purge my shelves of multiple titles, before inevitably putting every book back because I just can’t bear to part with any. I often, and by often I mean daily, lament the lack of storage space in my house, and if I could condense my book collection down, even just by half then it would make a huge difference space wise, and yet I never do.

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I have two double bookshelves, I have never shared a photo of them here, or on Instagram because quite frankly I would be too embarrassed. When I say that they are fit to burst I really mean it! Periodically I will give them a tidy, or attempt to at least, and sometimes I go wild and even try to alphabetise them, or organise by author/genre etc, but the organisation never lasts. In a nutshell I have more books than shelves, and because of that there are titles piled on top of titles, books rammed into every nook and cranny and the result is a librarian’s nightmare – no correlation and no possibility of finding something specific easily. It’s a shame really because whilst I can somewhat handle the chaos – I’ve learned to live with it, there are some really beautiful spines hidden away that deserve to be seen. The only saving grace is that my bookshelves are inside the cupboard in my front room so I can at least close the door and pretend I’m not letting the book community down.

Photo by Huu1ef3nh u0110u1ea1t on Pexels.com

There is of course a solution to this dilemma screaming out isn’t there, in fact it couldn’t be more obvious – get rid of some of the books. Which leads me nicely back to my original question: Do you/should you keep books that you have no intention of re-reading? There are so many books that I own which if I’m being honest I probably won’t pick up again. That’s not to say that I haven’t enjoyed them, but I rarely re-read. It has to be a really special title for me to pick it up more than once. There are just so many books out there and far too little time to get through them all (particularly for a slow reader like me), that I simply struggle to find the time to re-read any. In fact, if I’m being completely honest some of my most treasured books that I would love to re-read haven’t made their way into my hands for so long, meaning those that rank lower on the list really don’t stand much of a chance.

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So, why am I holding onto them?

I actually don’t know. It seems pretty silly to do so now that I sit here writing this. I should really donate some so that other readers can enjoy them. A book is meant to be read after all isn’t it, it hardly seems fair to subject some of mine to a life of languishing forgotten on my shelves. However, it is very easy to say that now, the actual act of getting rid of them is one that just fills me with dread. I sometimes wonder if subconsciously I feel like less of a credible bookworm, and indeed book blogger, the smaller my physical collection is. I’ve certainly felt out of a place when I’ve seen hyped up titles doing the rounds and I’ve not even heard of them let alone picked them up and read them, and goodness me if one of those titles sounds like something I would hate then that really gives me the shivers! So, to then consider that I may not have enough books, or the ‘right books’ (whatever they are!) is a rabbit hole I really don’t want to go down!

Photo by mentatdgt on Pexels.com

I feel as though this question, at least for me personally, is one of those scenarios where I would give different advice/answers than my actual actions reflect. I would say no, you shouldn’t keep books that you have no intention of re-reading, unless there is a particular justification to hold onto it, say sentimental purposes for example, and the reason I would say to get rid is because well, what’s the point of holding onto them, they quite literally take up space that could be used for something else, and also they may be a potential favourite for a new reader, so they deserve that chance to shine elsewhere. I wish I could follow that when it comes to my own books, or at least provide a credible answer for why I can’t, but frustratingly I just can’t seem to do either. I fear I may be destined to a lifetime of haphazard, gasp inducing, messy bookshelves. I guess I better ensure that any future home I have has a cupboard that I can hide said shelves away in, so I can keep my dirty little secret.

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If you’ve made it this far then thank you and well done, I fear it may have been a bit of slog to get to this point! I have no further clarity than when I started, but at least I’ve confessed as to the state of my bookshelves, so you won’t be expecting any of those gorgeous ‘shelfies’ that other far more put together members of the book community share.

I’d love for you to join the discussion and answer the question: do you/should you keep books that you have no intention of re-reading? And any other points/musings that this post may have prompted are welcome also. As always I would love to hear your thoughts!

Thanks for reading, I hope that you enjoyed!

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Until the next time…Jess x

21 thoughts on “A Discussion: Do you/should you keep books that you have no intention of re-reading?

  1. I’m late to read this but this is a fantastic discussion, Jess! 😊 I rarely reread books either for the same reasons as you, so if I decided not to keep them I’d hardly have any books left! πŸ˜‚ I just find owning the books pretty special and it feels very difficult to part with them. Also, a nice bookshelf is aesthetically pleasing.

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  2. For my part, I think there are compelling reasons to part with books I’m not sure I’m going to reread. A lot of people don’t have easy access to books, and donating them to someplace where they can be enjoyed and read by others makes sense. It is rather difficult to part with books, but I think avid readers always find more books coming in through gifts or purchases or ARCs anyway, so there will never really be a shortage!

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    1. I agree, when I look at some of the books on my shelf I feel guilty when I think they probably won’t get read, they’d be much better off going to somebody that will enjoy them. Yes, you’re right, I have so many unread books that even if I got rid of some I expect my shelves would still be fit to burst!

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  3. In theory, I don’t keep books unless I think I’ll re-read them, but in practice my house is jammed full of piles of books I don’t have enough shelf space for! In my defence, part of the problem is the lockdown – I haven’t been able to take books to the charity shops for over a year now and I’ve really noticed for the first time just how many books I acquire. Can’t wait to take sacks of them to donate when the shops are back in action – it’ll give me some room to get even more books… πŸ˜€

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    1. So true, lockdown has really impacted on the ability to donate hasn’t it. So great that it’s all opening back up again, I think if I keep your argument in mind that culling some leaves space for new ones I’ll find it a lot easier to have a clear out πŸ˜‚ even if it will only be temporary.

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  4. I had and kept hundreds of work-related books and when I was moving I gave them all away to students, colleagues and a family member who sold them all at car boot sales, Some of those books cost upwards of Β£40 and she was selling them in perfect condition for 50p each – doh!

    I wished I’d kept some 😦

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Your post jogged my memory to a time around 6 years ago when I basically gutted my shelves of every book I owned and sent them to my local charity shop. Nowadays, I read everything electronically either via Audible or Kindle, so nothing is clogging up physical space. I am a re-reader though, and have had to re-download a few of the books I gave away, but not as many as I thought I would. Not much of an answer, but I guess it just comes down to the individual’s preferences, I try to keep shoulds and woulds out of reading habbits and vocabulary as much as possible.

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    1. It’s interesting that you bring up using your kindle because I’ve found that since I joined NetGalley and have been using the kindle app to read titles I’m starting to find it so much more convenient than a physical book, and I do find myself wondering whether that plays a part in why my actual books are so unloved these days.

      You’re so right, keeping shoulds and woulds out is definitely the best approach, and not just in the book world 😊

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  6. Great idea for a discussion post! Unlike everyone else it seems, I find it easy to get rid of books I’m never going to read again. I don’t have enough space for them all to sit there gathering dust. I prefer to give them to charity shops, so that indirectly I’m helping to raise money for good causes. Perhaps if there are books on your shelf that you didn’t love but other people might, you could consider giving some to charity.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! I must admit I’m envious of you finding it so easy to get rid of books, I wish I could! Oh yes, absolutely they’ll go to the charity shop if I do manage it, partly because it’s great to donate but also because it gives me an excuse for a browse, some real gems in the charity shops in my local area 😊

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  7. I’ve kept all of the novels I’ve ever bought or received. Even the really sucky ones. For me personally I have always dreamed of having a library in my own home so that’s why I keep them. Plus boredom strikes at times and I may reread one of the books.

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  8. I’m exactly the same – I have books on my shelf that I’ve had for years at this point that I haven’t read yet and I don’t tend to re-read books either but I find it incredibly difficult to get rid of books! Fortunately I still have some room on my shelves but for how long, I don’t know. I think one day I’ll build up to doing a massive cull and send some to the charity shop but who knows how long it’ll be before I do thatπŸ™ˆ

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