Why I keep books I am never going to re-read.
If you visit Dog Eared Books on a regular basis or even read my blog posts, you would have noticed that I’m a big fan of kids books. Even though I left childhood behind some years ago, I find something so satisfying in reading a really good kids book every so often. It used to be my job when I was Children’s Buyer to read as many as I could get my hands on and in doing this, I found so many amazing authors and series who were not content just to write a ‘kids book’ or ‘Young Adult book’ or even just an ‘adult book’ (looking at you Rainbow Rowell).
There was one series though in particular, that warmed my heart. I read the first book because it was my job, and the rest because I loved them. The Ranger’s Apprentice Series by John Flanagan. I ended up collecting the whole set, including the Brotherband series, which is a spin-off set within the same fantasy world. I had them sitting on the shelf for a few years, read them through twice entirely and then realised that I probably was never going to read them again. Needing the shelf space on my limited ‘to keep forever’ shelves, I brought all of them into the shop to pass onto the next Ranger’s Apprentice fan.
Then something funny happened.
Although I filled the spot on the shelf at home with another series, equally worthy and equally fantastic, I found I missed having it there. I missed walking past the books each day, and my eye being caught by their shiny spines. Each time I would see them, I would smile. Even on a really bad day, just seeing the books and reliving a snippet of the story, hearing the characters voices in my head for a single second would be enough. I found I never quite forget Flanagan's world, what happened, the joys and the heartbreaks contained within.
That was when I realised why there is a singular beauty of keeping a book on the shelf, even if you think you’re never going to re-read it. Every time you see it there, notice it, touch it with you finger tips as you walk past, something from the books re-emerges and you remember what it was to read it. I’m not saying you need to keep every book, but at the same time, if the book holds a meaning for you, don’t feel like you need to get rid of it.
I find this especially true with non-fiction books that resonate. Particularly as with many non-fiction, depending on the subgenre, they are written to be re-read many years later and to develop a new relationship with the work through the lens of your older and wiser self (I find this most often with biographies). Then there are the books that you dip in and out of (this could also apply to short stories) and although you might only read three pages on a day, they could mean more for being a bite sized amount of information for you to chew rather than being overwhelmed with a whole book.
Do you have books that you might not read again sitting on your shelf? Or are the memories of reading a book enough to keep you going without seeing it? And just to let you know, I have recollected the whole Ranger’s Apprentice series again… and you know what? I just re-read them all last month.