Is there such a thing as ‘too many books’?

.. I’ve been out and about, visiting Wales, Northumberland, and Ullapool. I didn’t see any bookshops in Pembrokeshire (though there was a lovely little town called Narberth which has banned chain stores from its high street, and I had a great afternoon pottering there and came away with some brilliant dinosaur dungarees. As you do.)
But Northumberland means Barter Books in Alnwick, which added to my book haul, while Ullapool was the annual book festival! First time they’ve been able to hold it for three years thanks to our old friend, Mr Covid. Ullapool has two bookshops, well stocked, so the book haul got even bigger, not least due to discovering some new and interesting writers at the event. (In case you missed it, a previous blog about the top ten bookshops in the UK, talked about both Ullapool and Barter Books).
So now it felt timely to consider  whether there is such a thing as too many books.
It would be hard to exist today and not have heard of Marie Kondo, the master of the de-clutter, and I was struck by the idea attributed to her, that you don’t need to keep more than thirty books. This month’s blog was my attempt to  narrow my bookshelves down to thirty essential books. It was such fun to write! I’d love to hear if you agreed with my choice.
Marie Kondo is admirable, and has helped people overwhelmed with junk, and even though my house is pretty full of inessential stuff, I’d like to think it’s not cluttered, apart from the books. And maybe fridge magnets. Oh, and notebooks. Shoes? Clothes? Well ok so maybe it’s a bit cluttered.
It’s interesting though, isn’t it, how there is always a fantastic market for niche non-fiction books? Who would have thought you could become a millionaire writing about de-cluttering? If you want to write some non-fiction, I’d recommend you take a specific and narrow focus, and see if you can come up with a book which people didn’t know they needed before it existed. (I wrote a blog about non-fiction books of this sort a few years ago).
The Edinburgh book festival programme launches early June and next month’s blog will feature the top ten unmissable events, so look out for that on 11th June
(Picture below – a small corner of my study. Slightly more than 30 books.)

How to write

I picked up this month’s recommended how to book at Barter Books this month. John Byrne writes for Marvel and DC comics, and this small book does seem to tell you everything you could possibly need to know if you’re considering writing comedy, from dissecting the different type of jokes to help you think about writing gags, right through to performance and pitching ideas for sitcoms. There is bound to be something in there you haven’t considered, so if you can get hold of this book (it was published in 1999) it’s definitely worth a look if you want to  inject any humour at all into your writing.


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