Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Books I'm Getting Rid Of
Originally uploaded by Loz Flowers

It was at some point about halfway through Blue Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson that I realised I was unlikely to ever read that book, or Red Mars or Green Mars , the titles that precede it in the trilogy, ever again. Not because they are bad books, far from it, they are wonderfully detailed and vivid hard future-sci about humanity spreading out into the stars, the problems that might cause, the changes it will bring and the chances for making us better people as a result. While the descriptions of most of the science and political theory goes straight over my head and a number of the more colourful characters die in the first book, Robinson never completely loses me.

While I read Red Mars some time in the late Nineties (I think around 1997) and Green Mars some time towards the start of the new Millenium I didn't get around to Blue Mars until this Summer. This wasn't completely down to forgetfulness on my part, there were no copies where I used to work and the book seemed to be out of print for a while, then I forgot all about it, until I got to where I'm working now. And I was lucky, it was the last copy and hadn't been out in two years, so the lack of a good fiction weed was all that enabled me to get my mitts on the book.

But it was the fact that I could go five or six years without a burning desire to read the last part of the trilogy that made me realise that the other two books were just taking up space on my shelves, at a time when above them there was a pile of around thirty books that weren't shelved because I had no space left.

I'm very resistant to getting rid of books, it offends my librarian spirit. Books are to be treasured, with the possibly exception of those by Katie Price or Jeffrey Archer. I have a permanent pile of around fifty books which constitute four 'to read' piles, some of the books have been there for four or five years now, mainly because I have less time to read these days and library books have to go first. But a few years ago an almost complete set of Colin Dexter paperbacks went into the book sale at work as I realised that once I had read one of his incredibly convoluted plots that always seemed to revolve around mistaken identity in one form or another. And, when I pulled the Mars books off the shelf I realised "Hang on, those Isaac Asimov books have been sitting there unread even longer than these two. And I didn't even like The Gobbler when I read it after buying it some time in late 1995."

And that was pretty much that. Most of the stuff you see above are books that I would classify as 'good', the pile of Asimov's books are pretty good books, detective novels with robots and spaceships for the most part. If I had an eleven-year-old boy nearby who liked science-fiction I would happily unload them on him, that was about the age I started reading Asimov and most of them are ideal for that age, except for his later books, in which incredibly beautiful and large-breasted women fall in love with old science professors repeatedly. Full Whack or Mr In-Between were perfectly adequate reads when I bought them, I just never read them again.

There are a few stinkers in there too. The aforementioned The Gobbler for example. I only bought that because I happened to be walking through the Birmingham Waterstones one day and Adrian Edmondson was sitting there. I can't remember if it was towards the end of his signing session but there was no-one going up to see him so I bought a copy of the book and got him to sign it. Thankfully time has rusted my experience of reading it but I remember it being awful. Some unfunny runaround farce involving an actor and a psychotic stalker I seem to remember. I probably held on to it for so long only because it was signed. The Anne Rice books are from the end of the period of time I liked her work, the mid-Nineties, when I found her work progressively weaker. I'm keeping hold of her earlier and better work such as Interview With the Vampire , The Witching Hour and Cry to Heaven which is probably up there near the top of my list of favourite novels (though what on earth the cover of the edition I've linked has to do with the story I've no idea). Hannibal by Thomas Harris is going because it bored me, the collection of his two previous books because I haven't read them for best part of a decade either.

The pile is very unfair. If 'not reading' was a criteria, my Douglas Adams books should probably be there too, especially considering how bad MOstly Harmless was. But it'll do for now.

The question is, what to do with them now? There's the book sale at work or I still have a Book Crossing ID somewhere, though I always have difficulty finding somewhere to leave the book, I don't want the embarrassment of someone trying to return to me a book I've deliberately left behind somewhere. I'll have to have a think about that.

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