Facing the task of packing and moving our library, I was reminded of that wonderful book I used to read with my children, Wanda Gag’s ‘Millions of cats’.
cats books, thousands of cats books and millions and billions and trillions of cats books’.
Oddly, I no longer have the book, though I hope one of the offspring has. ‘Oddly’, because I seem to have most of the others that have accompanied me through life. Both of us is incapable of downsizing when it comes to books. Till now.
When we realised that much of what we own has remained unopened since the day it arrived in France and probably for some years before that, we decided something had to change. Jettisoning them was unthinkable. And where in France could we re-home so many books in English?
By chance, I was browsing on the web one day, and realised that many of these old faithfuls have a value. They could be sold. So that’s what we’ve decided to do. But it’s really not about the money. It’s about knowing that these books will end up with someone who has chosen them and wants them, rather than in some charity shop where, as we know from experience, some would simply moulder or even be thrown before reaching the shelves, even though many would be snapped up.
So…… we now have three kinds of book. The central core: books we can’t think of doing without – mainly reference books and other much-used non-fiction, with some of our best-loved fiction. The second kind, the saleable ones, are now boxed up to send to England. And the last, and smallest group: the ones we’ve decided to do without, and which have little apparent value. We’ve opened doors to all-comers who want to browse, and we’ve probably re-homed about half. There are still some 450 still remaining. They’re heading to Amnesty International in nearby Castelnaudary, who raise funds by selling to both English and French customers. We know how excited we get when we get the chance to browse a new collection of English books, so we hope they’ll be a good money-raiser for them.
Come and look at some of our books – rejected and selected.
You can tell how long I’ve had this one: it was priced in pre-decimal days, before 1972, so even many British readers may have difficulty in deducing that this scholarly work of non-fiction cost me….. 57 ½ p.
This book was given to me as a leaving present from work back in the mid ’70s. It was a good read then, but even more so now as a history of the area we now live in.
This book belonged to my grandfather, a man who died long before I was born. Beautiful marbled end papers such as this often came as standard in the 19th century.
And finally, a book which though incomplete, is a real piece of history. It includes handwritten recipes for making ink, polish, peppermint cordial, stove-blacking. Here’s how to keep your brass and copper ware in tip-top condition.
It includes just one newspaper cutting. By snooping around on the net and looking for this particular (and unsuccessful) cure for cholera, I surmise it comes from the 1820s.
Surely even the most die-hard minimalist will forgive me for keeping this book firmly among the family treasures?
And now the books are packed. Every single one – apart from a few bedtime stories for the next three weeks. One room done, seven to go.