Friday, 21 September 2012

Can you ever have too many books?

I often think that when you go into a house and you can't see any books that there's something wrong with those that live there - how can there be no books?  In my experience, you just need to let a couple into your life and before you know it, you're over-run with books, on shelves, windowsills, the stairs, in piles all over.

Now I admit - I'm an incurable bookworm.  That coupled with my hoarding instincts mean that I (almost) never get rid of a book - I frequently reread my collection - I love those familiar friends that favourite books become - almost like a member of the family.  I often feel quite bereft when I come to the end of a good book and wait with baited breath for the next instalment.

My book collection is fairly eclectic and all encompassing, from Kipling to Jilly Cooper, Homer to Jeffrey Deaver - there's something for everyone and every occasion there.  But my two big passions book-wise are trashy thrillers (think Patricia Cornwell, Kathy Reichs and Jeffrey Deaver) and Cookbooks (of which I must have over 150 - possibly too many if you can indeed have too many books....).

Living in Germany, it's not quite as easy to pick up good reads as in the UK.  Yes, the big bookstores do all have a selection of English books -in English, and of course you can order online.  But books bought here in Germany are a lot more expensive than in the UK - and of course when ordered online you have to wait for delivery.  I'm not a very patient person and whilst delivery times are generally not too bad you can guarantee the one time you want something like yesterday it takes eons to arrive!

The Kindle has come to Germany too.  We've had ours for a few years now and I have to admit to not being it's biggest fan.  First off we had trouble linking accounts and couldn't buy from due to our geographical location - so have to buy via the states which meant paying in dollars which meant paying commission etc.  Now we're linked to as that's our 'local shop' so to speak which is fine, but again the price differential between the UK and here is quite surprising.  Whilst I am using the Kindle more, it won't ever take over from the real thing for me - something about the way a book sits in your hand, how an old book smells - or it's pages and spine are worn speaks to me so much more than a machine does - and quite frankly the page size on the Kindle is not big enough so I seem to  be forever turning pages..... it does not make for a happy reading experience.  And I daren't take it into the bath with me - and as that's where I do a fair amount of reading - well a real book is still the one I want.

Now, what I have found here in Germany is a great little English language book-exchange site where you can list your unwanted books, and earn tokens to swap for other books on the same site (they don't have to be listed by the person who wanted your old books.)  This site - Bookswapper - is worth a look for those readers living in Germany and wanting English books.  I just love the idea of a book that I no longer want (which I'll admit are not many) going to another good home, rather than just cluttering up my limited bookshelves.

The other great thing about books is reading something so completely outside of your comfort zone -  and enjoying it, thus opening up a whole new section of literature that you'd never come across before.  I belong to an English Book Club (well it's more of a wine club but that's a whole other post....) and through them I've found Ken Follett who's Pillars of the Earth series I  loved (his next series is on my Christmas wish-list!) and even tried (and failed with) Terry Pratchett - someone who I'd never have spontaneously read at all.   Talking about our recent reads and hearing how other people have visualised and interpreted a book just broadens the enjoyment of the book for me - it's a shame we only meet once a month!

So can you ever have too many books?  I think not (even if you only use them as doorstops....!).  Passing on my love of reading to my children is I think one of the greatest gifts I can give them and I do hope they inherit the bookworm gene (otherwise goodness only knows what will happen to all the books we have here....)


  1. Never! There can never be too many books.

    1. I think I'm with you on that - I have days when I think it's all getting on top of me....but instead of sorting I end up buried in a book! My obsession with good old Ladybird books for the kids might need checking though as I'm running out of room there!