Friday, 7 June 2013

Sunday Salon - Can a person have too many books?

Yes, I am a bit late for the Sunday Salon, actually I could be early - that will be a first! Over on the KindleKorner mailing list there has been an interesting debate in answer to the following question
"Can a person have too many books?"
I have to say, I have not followed the debate closely, but I have pondered the question. The reality is what is too many books? Define what is too many?

I asked a friend via email and she responded. She also said that I could share the comment here - isn't that nice of her.  She responded by saying someone who is brought up in one faith has only the need for the one religious text that is relevant to that belief. A religious scholar might have every religious text ever written and then strive to find more.  OK, I see the difference. So, a person who has 4 or more bibles has too many? The answer was technically yes as they only need one (perhaps 2 - different versions, writings etc). So my friend defines too many as the difference between enough to function and wanting more.

She then said look at your bookshelves and see what books you have and ask why do I have this book?  She predicted the results would be interesting and they were.

My books can be broken down into the following & my book catalogue can be seen HERE where I also catalogue books I have read, but no longer have - books sold, borrowed & library books etc
  • History
    • Genealogical
    • Local History
    • Italian collection 
      • General 
      • Sicily
      • Genealogy in Italy
      • Cookery
      • Fiction & Non Fiction
  • Biography / Autobiography
    • Memoirs
  • Crafts
    • Quilts
    • Sewing
  • Reference
    • Maps
    • How to books - Excel for Dummies
  • Health
    • Thyroid
  • Professional
    • Pharmacy related books
  • Childrens
    • A complete set of Noddy books from my childhood
    • 3 books from hubbys childhood
  • Fiction
    • Random books that appeal
    • Sets by particular authors - books typically I will re-read
      • Elm Creek by Jennifer Chiaverini
      • Harry Potter
  • Fishing - none of these are mine - all hubbys
  • E-Books
I have lots of books and only half what I had about 3 years ago. I currently have a large study with 3 bookcases, another bookcase in our lounge and a further bookcase in the hall. I also have a rather large toppling pile of books to read. I have the space for these books and many more.

When we move I will still have a study, albeit, a slightly smaller one. Therefore a book cull, actually an everything cull will need to take place. 

Q- Do I have too many books for 5 bookcases?
A - Yes

Q - Do I have room for too many books
A - Yes, currently

The cull needs to take place and will be done using the following plan
  • Texts and books regularly used
  • Sentimental books
  • Specific collections
    • Thyroid
    • Italian
  • Fiction books I will read again - usually sets
  • Fishing books
Technically the rest can be culled? Not sure
Some books are just nice to have and enjoy, to dipping in and out of and simply own  and look at.

My Grandmother had a saying "if in doubt, don't do it". Well perhaps I will use that ethos as I cull the books and back to the original question. Does it really matter I have too many books? No I don't think so!


  1. An As you say Julie, it partly depends on space. Generally I'd say there's no such thing as too many of my "keep" criteria will be "can I access this book easily - library etc

  2. You never have too many books! Maybe too many to fit neatly onto the bookshelves. I currently have around 10 000 books in my home ranging from Genealogy, Local History, Business, Microbiology, Public Health, Medical History, Public speaking, Cancer, Gardening, Cooking (love cookbooks at times more to drool over the pictures than to actually cook from them!) a wide range of craft books, painting, stained glass etc then there are the fiction as I read pretty much every genre except horror. I am lucky in that I now live alone in a large four bedroom home so books have infiltrated into every room except bathroom and the two loos!

    I also ahve a large collection of e-books.

  3. Well reasoned, Julie! "Some books are just nice to have and enjoy, to dipping in and out of and simply own and look at." My rule: As long as they are in a bookcase ... but when the bookcases are full, some have to be culled before others can be brought in. Being surrounded by one's books is comforting.

  4. No such thing as too many Julie! *tuts and rolls eyes* ;)


  5. Anonymous4:06 am

    I think e-readers are the best known invention for book hoarders, like you and me!! Having over 1,000 books on my e-readers, but only about 15 paperbacks on my shelf....looks so nice ;)


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