Books, should we chuck 'em or store 'em, asks Alex May at The Sydney Morning Herald Blogs: Renovation Nation (thanks to Karen M for the link). Alex is of the "chuck 'em" fraternity, giving her read books over to friends, charity shops or the recycling bin. I'm of the same persuasion these days (though I admit to stopping short of the recycling bin). I've been through so many phases of keeping every book I've ever read, stacking up groaning piles in the attic, struggling with every flat or house move…I suppose that when you get to a certain age, you know you can never read them all again so it just does not make sense to keep them all.
My solution is just to keep a few* favourites (I'm unmoved by all the comments to Alex May's piece), but to log online all that I've read so that I can go back to them again if I want. These days, it is so cheap to obtain a book on the internet as well as to log it there, that there seems little point in keeping them all. If you kept all your books and you were me, you'd increase your library by about 10 books a week, and if you had two children as I do, they would too; pretty soon you'd have nowhere to live. Future generations probably won't have this problem as they'll all have e-readers (or won't be able to read).
Even if you have the space, is it even desirable to keep all your books? In another link sent by Karen, Henrietta Rose-Innes of the Times of South Africa writes about the dark side of reading. "Bookish people drolly claim to be addicted. I think, in some cases, this is literally true. I’d like to know the brain chemistry involved — what pleasure centres ignite when you part the pages of a new book and sniff the ink. It seems those neural pathways are laid down young: you’re hooked early or not at all. And from that point on, you need to keep feeding the habit with progressively larger doses of word, no matter how cut and contaminated."
*Even so, my definition of "few" requires ever-expanding shelf space!