Lessing on books, and less books for me

Doris Lessing’s Nobel acceptance speech was mentioned twice to me yesterday before I had time to read it. Call me a cynic, but I generally don’t expect much from these things, but this time I really felt inspired. It was well written (not surprisingly), easy to read and on such a very important subject.

Having moaned quite recently here about having too many books, and what on earth I can do about it, I feel thoroughly ashamed. Oxfam has been the intended recipient, for when I can actually decide what to keep and what can go. But now I wonder if this is good enough.

Not all my surplus would be suitable for the readers in Zimbabwe that Doris Lessing wrote about, but a lot of it would be fine. How can I get my books to somewhere like that, without doing silly things like getting on a plane with suitcases full of books?

Coincidentally, just two days ago Daughter was bemoaning the disappearance of Dickens from the school library. Not that she wants to read Dickens you understand (for GCSE they read two chapters of Great Expectations…), but as a book lover she felt that dumping a shelf full of fresh new hardback Dickens was wrong. The official reason is that the books hadn’t been taken out by students. From my own time as a volunteer in that library I suspect that the books were simply dumped. They can’t be recycled as paper, and for some reason the school can’t take them to a charity shop.

It makes me want to cry.


6 responses to “Lessing on books, and less books for me

  1. Steal the books from where they were dumped. It’s imperative they are saved – if only to be stared at for months before being once again moved on…

    It is a tragedy.

  2. If I knew they were being dumped I’d be there to save them. But they don’t announce these things to the general public.

  3. Make sure the planned destruction gets plenty of coverage in local newspapers and on local television and radio. Shame the school — and try to find some prison or charity that can take the books.
    Detectives Beyond Borders
    “Because Murder Is More Fun Away From Home”

  4. I’ve got another 18 months as a parent at this school. So, I don’t want to rock the boat too much. And the local press is of the kind that prints pictures of happy smiley children doing clever things at school.

  5. Our local secondaries had no compunction in dumping their millenium project Everyman Library books in the local charity shops. I have one – Stendahl’s Scarlet and Black – and saw many more at the British Heart Foundation shop all bearing the ink stamp of a local school. It seems that every secondary school in the UK has been given – or at least offered – 300 classics by the Millenium Library Trust. Quite a number of schools refused to accept them at all but others did take them. When this story broke in the Education Guardian in March it transpired that many charity shops had had their stocks swollen by schools then rejecting these books.

  6. Yes, I think that was the edition the school received. There’s de-cluttering and de-cluttering. You can take it too far. Or at least dispose of books in a sensible way. The school’s whole collection of Agatha Christie went the same way some years ago.

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