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John Self 3rd Jul 2006 19:43

How many books do you have?
As a maniac for space and order (well, in relation to books anyway), I am constantly battling to minimise the amount of space books take up in my house. As I read over a hundred new books each year, all purchased, this means to keep the numbers down there has to be regular whittling of the oldies. This is much less painful than you might think, as once you start identifying books you don't actually need any more, the whole process just proliferates. Read it once ten years ago and didn't much like it but thought you might give it another go? But haven't in the intervening decade? Then get rid of it. And so on. It's also easy because once a book is gone, it's out of mind and you don't miss it.

Anyway. I remember when I started going out with my (minimal-reading) girlfriend a year or so ago, she was amazed at how many books I have and asked me how many. I had no idea, so had a rough count. It was just under 900, which I thought was pretty good (ie low). Having just had a major clearout at the weekend - of the boxes under the stairs, and drawers by the bed, as well as all the shelves and bookcases - I thought I would repeat the process. I find to my delight that I have fewer books now than I did a year ago: about 777 if tonight's quick spine-count is reliable.

So how many books have you got?

Wavid 3rd Jul 2006 20:31

Re: How many books do you have?
Haven't counted mine, yet, but it'll be nowhere near that figure - and I don't throw out or sell any! How many do you think you would have had you not disposed of them?

And how many have you re-bought after selling them?!

Colyngbourne 3rd Jul 2006 20:59

Re: How many books do you have?
I will count between today and tomorrow...

Lizzy Siddal 3rd Jul 2006 21:23

Re: How many books do you have?
This is eerie 'cos I've just spent the day cataloging my fiction collection - the idea being that pruning would be much easier if I didn't look at / touch the books first.

I have 671 works of fiction. I have yet to catalogue the non-fiction ......

and I have yet to work out the rules for the pruning which is to follow.:roll:

However, I made a start today - I discarded 2 unread (!) books. The pages were far too yellow for me to consider reading them.

pandop 3rd Jul 2006 22:35

Re: How many books do you have?
I dread to think, and I can't count them all as they don't all live at my house


Colyngbourne 3rd Jul 2006 23:26

Re: How many books do you have?
Well so far, approx. 750 works of fiction and approx 300 non-fiction. And then the children's books, which are approx 2000 (if you're including Ladybirds - of which we've got about eighty/ninety - but I wouldn't be counting the books for under-fives which are now in boxes in the attic).

rick green 4th Jul 2006 2:13

Re: How many books do you have?
500 give or take a few, and no room for any more.

m. 4th Jul 2006 8:02

Re: How many books do you have?
No idea*, but not that much. For years I depended on libraries and (less) borrows from friends - it's changed only lately. My shelves (er, imaginary shelves) don't reflect what I've read. Btw, I lend books freely, but never done any weeding of the unloved or unneeded. I lose some, I leave some behind, but it just happens, no planned action.

*And I'm an archivist by profession...

John Self 4th Jul 2006 8:28

Re: How many books do you have?

Originally Posted by Lizzy Siddal
However, I made a start today - I discarded 2 unread (!) books. The pages were far too yellow for me to consider reading them.

Well done Lizzy! That's a good idea by the way: I'm a bit of a fusspot when it comes to condition - this could be a good way to get rid of a handful of lesser-loved Sparks and Pranteras...

gil 4th Jul 2006 9:13

Re: How many books do you have?
I refer the honourable member to my reply of August 2004


Build more, and they fill up
Don't I know it. We have about 5000 books. One wall of room A (books double-banked on wide shelves). Half a wall of room B. Whole of one side of corridor C. Whole of understairs cupboard D. Whole of another understairs cupboard E. Set of shelves and several boxes on floor of room F. Whole of contents of two three-drawer bedside tables. A vast set of shelves in room G. A smaller set of shelves in room H. A modest pile awaiting reading on camphorwood chest.


One bookcase for collectibles, encyclopaedias, dictionaries, art books, largely arranged by size.

One bookcase divided unequally between SF, Mainstream and Beryl's favourites [each alphabetic by author (approx chronological within author)]. This is the largest and most often accessed bookcase, and shares the room with some hundreds of movies on VHS on separate shelves.

One corridor for crime and spy fiction. One bookcase for historical fiction. One set of shelves for manuals and technical books. Most of the boxes and understairs areas are theoretically on their way to charity shops and car boot sales, but they never get there and are constantly rummaged for books we can't find elsewhere.

And, to relieve the pressure, we're about to shelve another room.
Since then, we have shelved and mostly filled that other room, and the corridor that used to be crime and spy fiction is now a more flexible and really useful item, rather like a library trolley, containing a just-read-but-not-yet-filed section, a ready-to-read section and a for-sale-or-disposal section together with video overflow and assorted other categories too hard to describe to someone who doesn't live in our house, like books-Beryl-has-read-but-doesn't-think-Gil-will-like-much and manuals-and-reference-books-used-on-a-recent-project-that-might-be-needed-again.

The upshot is that we still have around 5000 books, because purchases and disposals have been somewhat balanced this year. And, yes, it's a problem having that many books, especially if you're a bit of a hoarder.

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