Tuesday 28 September 2010

To keep, or to give away?

Apparently the greatest number of books donated to Oxfam shops are by Dan Brown.

Does this mean that more books of his are bought, or does it mean that people don't finish them, or that once read, they're considered to be disposable? A kind of literary fast food? I keep books for diferent reasons. I'm not good at getting rid of any of them - even those I haven't enjoyed - because I love just possessing them. But I'm just about to get rid of The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, because I couldn't finish it. So maybe keeping books I haven't finished reminds me of my own failngs (after all, one should finish a book in order to form a proper opinion, shouldn't one)? Whereas keeping books I've read but hated (eg A Line of Beauty) reminds me that I have at least some staying power. And keeping books I've never read at all, and probably never will, (the entire Pepys Diaries, for one) reminds me that all things are possible...


  1. Ten years ago, I used to wonder the same thing about John Grisham novels, in which every used bookstore around here would be swimming.

    My wife and I are both disinclined to get rid of any books, and really only do so when we're moving and forced to give some things up for the sake of space. Usually then it's the ones we didn't like, or liked but never plan on rereading and never revisit in our minds.

  2. Hi. Nevets. Yes - I wonder whether anyone's ever done any research on the subject of abandoned books. It seems to be a certain type of book that gets passed on, and I think Grisham is one of those.

    And if I found one of mine in a charity shop, how would I feel? Not sure...

  3. I know many people who buy and read avidly but aren't able to keep many books for simple reasons of space. So I'm guessing that more books in Oxfam by Dan Brown means more books by Dan Brown read. And, anyway, what does he care - it's sales that count, not getting all the way to the end!

    But I feel I should point out that I've read all of Dan's Brown's books and enjoyed every one. What he does, he does extremely well - I've tried other thrillers on the back of enjoying his and have, almost always, put them down unfinished.

  4. Alis - this wasn't meant to be a get at Dan Brown post (having just received my royalty cheque - quite nice, but it would have made DB laugh - I'm in no position to)! I was merely wondering how people decide which books to get rid of!
    (Two exclamation marks. Oh dear.)

  5. I'm glad I'm not the only one who couldn't get on with The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. Everyone kept telling me to read it, so I did, then wished I hadn't.
    I hate getting rid of books, I horde all my favourites until I run out of places to put them!

    I enjoy Dan Brown too...apart from Digital Fortress. :)

  6. Hi Akasha - I felt I must have missed something with The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Ot maybe the amount of hype raised my expectations to impossible heights. Anyway, I was relieved when I decided to abandon it.

    As for places to put books, I've even started putting some under beds as there's nowhere else for them to go. We have friends who immediately discard paperbacks once they've finished them, and while this seems a terrible travesty, it does show a certain panache.

  7. If you ever find any books by Lorna Read in a charity shops (or my first ever book, Sweet Temptation by Caroline Standish, buy them for me and let me know, as I am sadly short of copies!