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My question today, in my never-ending project to get my personal library down to manageable proportions is …

When you have multiple copies of books, how do you decide which ones to keep? Dogeared childhood copies vs shiny new ones…

Somewhere in the house, I have around three and a half sets of the Narnia books.  My dogeared and play-library adorned childhood copies; a cheap set of new paperbacks I bought for Juliet (who was showing the possibilities of becoming a book-wrecker, but now I’m not so sure); my posh Folio set; and assorted other editions we’ve been given over the years. Obviously the Folio set stays, but should I get rid of the rest?  Or keep one set – if so which one?  The Pauline Baynes covers on my childhood set are lovely, but they are falling to pieces; the modern set have boring covers. Another dilemma.

I have similar problems for Ballet Shoes, The Wind in the Willows, Alice in Wonderland, and countless others. I own a proper hardback edition, Folio or otherwise, plus one or more reading copies, mostly Puffin paperbacks, including my childhood ones.

I can’t sell my dog-eared childhood copies – they’re in no state to pass on. Many of the pictures have been coloured in. Yes, I was a book-wrecker as a child – I think I changed to the opposite persuasion once I had a decent job and could afford to buy books rather than go to the library. The upshot of this is that I’d have to recycle the oldest copies, which are mostly well-tanned too by now too, tend to have small type and are not easy to read in their state of gentle decay.

I hope all these introspective posts about dealing with the problem of having too many books aren’t boring you all to sleep, but I am genuinely interested in your experiences.

  • Can you bear to get rid of your dogeared childhood editions when you have shiny new ones available?
  • Does the argument about having reading copies so that posh ones can be preserved hold any water?
  • Why were the old Puffin covers so lovely compared with today’s versions?
  • Would a pictorial record be enough to preserve the memories for posterity?
Do let me know your thoughts …
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