Up to my neck in books

We’ve just moved into a new flat, after nearly twenty years in our previous home. It turns out that you can acquire an awful lot of books in twenty years, so for the past month I’ve been trying to thin out the herd – I’ve taken loads of books into the office to let people pick through them, and the unwanted ones are going to charity shops.

It’s hard, though. I found a box of my scifi books from my teens – Asimov, Heinlein, Herbert, and oh so many Robert Silverbergs – and it was a difficult decision to get rid of most of them. Realistically, though, I’d never read them ever again, so they’d just be taking up space.

It was great to find my favourite John Brunner books, though – Stand on Zanzibar, The Sheep Look Up, The Shockwave Rider, The Traveller in Black – I’m definitely hanging onto those. Ursula Le Guin’s The Left Hand of Darkness – there’s no way I’m getting rid of that. I’ve found three or four copies of Frank Herbert’s Dune so I’m keeping one and getting rid of the others – don’t think I’ll bother holding onto the sequels, though. I won’t get rid of Herbert’s The Dosadi Experiment, either.

So while I’m getting rid of a huge number of books, I’m looking at it this way – I’m boiling down my collection to a thick glossy reduction of rich literary goodness.

There are some authors who don’t go anywhere near the charity shop pile. Iain Banks. Haruki Murakami. John Crowley. Alasdair Gray. (Although actually I did give away one book of Gray’s short stories to a friend – only because I had all the stories in a collected volume. And we do have some duplicates of Iain Banks books where my girlfriend had her own copies – unless they’ve been signed, we’re giving those away too.)

But lately I’ve spend more time unpacking and sorting and carrying books than reading. I managed to finish David Barnett’s Gideon Smith and the Mechanical Girl, which I thoroughly enjoyed – if you like steampunk, airships, vampires or just good old-fashioned adventure, I highly recommend it. If I had time I’d write a review, but time is something in very short supply at the moment. Since then I’ve been reading Nic Pizzolatto’s Galveston – the novel by the man who wrote and produced the recent stunning TV show True Detective.

As for writing, though, I’ve had very little opportunity. I don’t have anywhere set up in the new flat where I can sit and work on my laptop for any length of time, so the last bit of work I did on The Dragon on the Tower was a few hundred words on March 6th, World Book Day. I’ve still got most of the last act to write before I have a first draft complete, but I hope to get onto it again in the next month or so.

In the meantime, I’ve got more books to unpack and sort through.


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