I’m trying to sort out my study at home a bit. Though “study” is a bit of a misnomer — each time I’ve moved job it has been from a less expensive to a more expensive part of the country for housing, so where I used to have a beautiful large room overlooking the sea, I’ve now ended up in a little more than a book cupboard into which you can just squeeze a desk. That makes it all the more imperative to keep things tidy, and to chuck out books I no longer really want. Both of which I am terrible at.
But this time I have been trying much harder to reorganize the books, culling as I go. But it all takes so much time. Not just because I have to decide what to give to the library/students/Oxfam (though that’s difficult enough). But I find it impossible not to keep stopping over a book I haven’t opened in years and begin reading. I’m of the same mind as Churchill, who wrote
If you cannot read all your books, at any rate handle, or as it were, fondle them — peer into them, let them fall open where they will, read from the first sentence that arrests the eye, set them back on the shelves with your own hands, arrange them on your own plan so that if you do not know what is in them, you at least know where they are. Let them be your friends; let them at any rate be your acquaintances. If they cannot enter the circle of your life, do not deny them at least a nod of recognition.
And those nods of recognition as I move the books from one shelf to another all take so much time!