I love books ever since learning to read. Since returning to the UK in 1977, I gradually accumulated a small library of books. A rough count recently revealed around 1600 books.
I decided to give to Oxfam, the local charity in Totnes high street selling used books, one in eight of the books – around 200 books.
One of the Oxfam staff told me the shop has not received many used books in recent weeks, so they welcomed the donation of the books. We might image that charity shops might get overwhelmed with used items, but it might not be the case. I have spotted signs in the charity shop windows appealing for clothes, handicrafts, CDs and books to fill their shelves.
A clear-out generates space. I usually recycle around 20 books every year or two. The making of space touches a place of appreciation and enjoyment. With the deduction to 1400 books, the shelves look neat and orderly. I found plenty of books which had gotten out of place. It has become a proper library with books located in their appropriate location. It was worth the effort.
Currently, I am halfway through reading a 640-page biography of Ludwig Beethoven (1770 – 1827). Born in Bonn, Germany and died in Vienna, Austria, he is surely the Buddha of Music. German author, Jan Caeyers offers a masterful account of the eccentric maestro, who had to deal with consequences of his impetuous behaviour, intensity of his romantic nature, deafness and write a remarkable range of music, which he could only listen to in his mind.
The reading of the biography is part of the research for an essay for the blog on Beethoven, his daily walks in nature, 9th Symphony, Ode to Joy and the inspired poem of German poet, Friedrich Schiller (1759-1805). Ode to Joy is the anthem of the EU.
With a wry smile, a friend in Vienna, Austria said to me to me more than four decades ago: “The greatest achievement of Austria consists of convincing the world that Beethoven was an Austrian and Hitler was a German.”
Incidentally, I appreciate immensely the depth of research of German authors writing other biographies of influential voices – Goethe, Hitler, Rilke and many more.
With help of a friend in April, I gave to another charity shop around 20% of about 80 CDs and 20% of 60 DVDs. Perhaps 5% of the books, CDs and DVDs were given as presents. I also use a Kindle, containing numerous books for travel, mostly discourses of the Buddha.
About 25% of the books at home consist of translations of teachings of the Buddha and contemporary commentaries, mostly written by Indian scholars in the past 100 years. If you wish to explore a depth of commentary on the Pali suttas (Discourses of the Buddha), then give priority to the Indian pandits, whose analysis sheds immense light on the Dharma (the teachings) and the social, historical, religious and political background.
Indian pandits (learned scholars) wrote some of my favourite books from the 1930s onwards on the teachings of the Buddha and his environment in northern India with a sophisticated religious philosophy, political stewardship, values, culture and material life.
My library also includes books on psychology, philosophy, poetry, autobiographies, politics, environment, global issues, religion, spirituality, social issues, novels and more. I estimate I have read about 80% of the books in the past 45 years. There are important discourses of the Buddha I have read on scores of occasions, as well as the commentaries on these discourses.
Leafing through nearly all the books during a weeklong period, I found 20 or 30 books which triggered a must-read response and made another pile of books which triggered must-read again response.
Fortunately, I am a fast reader of about a couple of minutes for a page – a skill which developed as a newspaper reporter. For example, the news editor would throw a 30,000-word government report on my desk. “I need a 1000-word story on this report within an hour.” On an interesting sentence or paragraph, I put a single pen dot to indicate I need to re-read after finishing the book. The habit started on the news desk. If I am writing a review of the book, or an essay/critique on the theme of the book, I adopt the same approach.
The above information leads to a conclusion.
Et Vous? Time to Go through Your Books
1. Look through all your books. Do you have too many books?
2. Make a pile of unwanted books
3. Take them to your local charity shop(s).
4. Book lovers in charity shops may well be happy to buy one or two of your unwanted books and benefit from reading them.
5. The charity benefits from the sales of the books. Sales support those people, creatures or the environment the charity serves.
6. Or make the books available on local free-bay or sell on e-bay and donate any sales to charity.
7. Take satisfaction in knowing you are recycling the books and knowing others benefit from your donation of books.