Being both a historian and a writer, I suppose it's inevitable that I accumulate books. I'm quite good at getting rid of paperback novels that I know I'll never read again (although I do keep the odd few as Awful Examples). I probably should be more ruthless with the novels I've started but have never finished.
It's the non-fiction that piles up. I forget what I've got (and inevitably discover it the week after I could have used it). Or I have multiple copies of things, usually acquired because someone else was throwing them out. This afternoon I've had a cull and now have a large stack which will probably require two or three trips to the charity shop to dispose of.
Decisions have had to be made.
Do I really need two copies of Bede's History of the English Church and People, when it's available online? No, I don't, I decided. One of them is on the pile.
Do I need a hardback Dictionary of Quotations, when quotations are easily found via Google? Yes I do. My Dictionary of Quotations provided the title of this post. Besides, Winston Churchill advocated reading books of quotations to broaden the mind.
(Do I need two copies of My Early Life? One of them is falling apart, so yes.)
How many basic textbooks on nineteenth century British history does one need, given that more detailed information and more up to date interpretations can be found online? (And I can probably recite most of it my sleep anyway.)I've turned out a couple, but could probably get rid of a couple more.
It remains to be seen how many of the rejected books will actually make it to the charity shop. Last time I did this, about a year ago, a few found their way back onto the shelves, rather than out of the door.
I feel I've been quite ruthless, but I've still kept two copies of several books. Perhaps I should go through the shelves again and turn out a few more duplicates.
But I'm definitely keeping all my three copies of W. G. Hoskins' Making of the English Landscape.