November, 2004:
you throw away books?

Ever since I've been a child I've had a deep-seated respect for the printed word. Undoubtedly part of that respect was the result of my parents' values, but my own attempt to pass that respect on to my children has convinced me that at least to a certain extent it was also the result of growing up at a particular historical juncture - a juncture at which books were inexpensive, and television still hadn't become the dominant medium of information and entertainment.

But we have shelf upon shelf of books already filling our house, and (as is to be expected) most of these never get opened. Our home hasn't been big enough for many of the books we've accumulated over the years, and as a result I've kept many of these in boxes in our attic.

A box of books can keep quite well for a very long time in an attic, but not when a hot water boiler busts and it gets water logged, or when various small animals find their way inside and start eating their way out. In short, books that aren't kept on a shelf can rather easily become unreadable. It's at about this time that it becomes clear that a decision to throw some of them out has to be made. Some will live, but with others I'll have to part.

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