Tuesday, 04 February 2020 11:07


Downsizing is a difficult process for most, and probably more so for Seniors who have to let go of possessions acquired over a lifetime. So much of it has a story, a memory and a connection to a person or an experience.

Every home has books, some more than others, but there are always books! More often than not, clients struggle to part with their books. I was going to talk about my best tips to deal with books, and then I remembered an article I had scanned from an old magazine.

It’s fun and on point and worth sharing with you. Hopefully you will smile, and you might even be inspired to tackle your own books…

Extract from SHELF LIFE by Ysenda Maxtone Graham published in SLIGHTLY FOXED, No 16, Winter 2012.


Banishment, destruction, murder and deportation are, regrettably, an integral part of good housekeeping – especially if you live in a small house. Banishment is putting things away for a generation. Destruction is dismantling Lego creations which no one has played with for so long. Murder is throwing things away. Deportation is taking things to charity shops.

Yesterday I went on a culling spree in my house, armed with boxes for books. I was in a bloodthirsty mood. As I crept about, earmarking books for instant deportation, blowing the thick dust off them as a kindness before saying goodbye to them forever, I wondered whether other book lovers felt as I did, and what it felt like, and how people chose which books to get rid of. Do some people never cull their books? I wondered. Do they really keep every single one, treating all books as sacred?

You must be cruel to be kind, gardeners tell you, about pruning roses. You more you cut them down, the more they love it. This might be true of roses but is it true of books? I should imagine they absolutely hate it. Or perhaps the ones that survive as so relieved that they turn a blind eye to the atrocities going on further down the shelf. The poor selected items still end up wrenched out of their homes and carted off to charity shops.

The skill is to get rid of books that you are certain nobody will ever miss.

People say that middle-aged women become invisible. Middle aged books become invisible to. So much so that you go for decades without realizing you have multiple copies of them. What about the great show-off books that we all had to be seen reading? It’s absurd that they should survive. But the sentimental value is strong, and the books certainly look impressive. Tiny culls have taken place when no one was looking.

What about recipe books? You must take action if the recipe bookshelf gets so full that you can’t prise a book out with greasy fingers.

Culling children’s books is tricky, because children are upset if they discover that anything has gone, even if they didn’t love it when it was there.

The keeping of a library in a small house, like the keeping of a small garden, is a matter of constant pruning, preening and thinning. The culling only makes things better. The good books stay, the less good ones go and one day you will have the perfect small book collection, consisting only of books you really might want to read again.

What does your book collection look like?

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