Saturday, April 29, 2017

Clearance Reading

Our shelves are full enough that it can be hard to place a new book. I look at shelves in the office upstairs, and see a number of books that I don't think we need to keep, but which I do think I should probably read before we get rid of them. In most cases they were presents, and I remember who gave them to me, and sometimes remember for which birthday or on which Christmas. It seems to me that I will have done my duty by the givers if I read the books.

So next week, when the current bus book is done, I will devote my commute to making space on the shelves. In all, there are six or eight books due for this treatment. One more might qualify, but is awfully heavy. Carpe Librum will accept them and might be able to sell them.

The last book that I read to get rid of was Perry Miller's The New England Mind: The Seventeenth Century. It was not bus reading, requiring as it did too much concentration. I read it mostly sitting on the couch, and gave it away. The friend who took it must have backlogs of his own; I have never asked whether he read it.


  1. Noble enterprise! I can't even keep up with the things I've promised to read for other writers. Not enough time in the day... I would love a magic secretary-housekeeper-gardener to arrive on my doorstep.

    1. A review of a volume of Norman Mailer's letters said that he wrote of a "little guilt mountain" of unanswered letters, and a "big guilt mountains" of unread books by friends. My own big guilt mountain is pretty small, a slim volume written by a shirt-tail relative, but it's one more item to read.

      I realize, when I consider for example your case or that of a cousin who is a scholar, what freedom I have. I can pick up a 400 page book and read it because it catches my eye: no need to schedule it among books that must be reviewed or will be discussed at the next faculty meeting. I am grateful to you who do the work.

    2. At the moment I have a smallish but sharp mountain composed of two manuscripts I need to blurb. Avoidance, c'est moi, it seems.