Monday, 19 April 2010

A Literary Spring Clean

The rapidly growing pile of books-to-go.

I’m thinking of selling myself on eBay. Why not? Perhaps I’ll do it for a prank. ‘One man. Soiled. No good at DIY. 1st edition. House-trained. Doesn’t mind doing housework if owner is rich and beautiful. Starting bid: £5.99.’
   Spring is kind of sprung so some cultural cleansing is in order. Not that I only do it at this time of year; I’m always getting rid of literary and musical clutter but have been gripped with a feverish enthusiasm for shipping out stuff over the last few days, so the process begins. 
   Look at all those books...I never did read ‘Ulysses’ (wish I had a fiver for everyone who’s said that)...but we buy these things in fits of optimism/determination, don’t we? Perhaps we think ‘I can read and these are just’s a legendary book and I will damned well get through it!’ Fat chance. I gave up trying to be more intellectual than I really am years ago. Who would I be trying to impress? I’ve met few females that demand knowledge of Joyce as a prerequisite to a shag. Perhaps that’s because I never went to no university. At my secondary school you didn’t need to know a thing to win favour with girls. You had to look right, of course. Being a good dancer helped. I can dance. I danced better then, probably.
   All those books...the habit is bad, I confess, but you know what it’s like, that inability to resist a second-hand shop and the inevitability that there will be something cheap and appealing enough to spend a few quid on. Nowadays I try to be strict and look for the odd, rare, classic pulp and so on. But there’s always something.
   I joined a book swap club a few months ago. Initially it seemed like a great idea and I swapped half a dozen. Now all I get is requests for my goodies in exchange for lists filled with Nick Hornby, self-help books, Terry Pratchett and John Grisham. I keep getting emails saying a reader wants to swap with whatever and their lists are always full of shit. This tells me two things (that I already knew deep down) that most people have poor taste and those who don’t aren’t eager to swap their precious books. Well I’m funny like that. As much as I would be considered to have slightly more refined literary taste than Mr & Mrs People I’m not that precious about all the good books I’ve read. I’m not a big keeper. I only have good taste according to your too, naturally. I’m leaving that swap club.
   I’d eBay a lot but you know what you get for books on there? Bugger all, virtually, unless they’re collectable. I used to think that if you put something good on eBay it would sell – doh! It’s a buyer’s market, isn’t it? That applies to everything. Yet, I still see optimists on eBay listing books that are common as muck, priced too highly, and sitting with ten others. For a laugh I thought I listing everything for a penny. But that would be a stupid gesture of defiance in the face of consumerism...and constant trips to the post office are no fun.
   So I’m off to the book shop this week to get 20p per book and to hell with it. It always feels good (as long as I can ignore what I paid for them). Ditto music. I recently sold to Record & Tape. I was still happy to get 50p a record. Instant cash is gratifying. I spend the money on more books and music, naturally.


  1. Good for you. I did the same thing two years ago when I moved flats. Got rid of (dumped mainly) two-thirds of my books - almost all my music ones and most of the others - decent stuff too, but stuff I thought if I need to read them again I'll buy for two quid off ebay rather than have 'em gather dust in an ever decreasing space. Not regretted it for a mo. Am about to start looking for another (even smaller) flat so tempted to do it with my albums but seems harder to go through with it. But reckon I will.

  2. At least with music you can copy the content. I recall my first big sell-off well - the guy in Ray's Jazz said I was mad. Maybe he was right, but I've never really regretted it.


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