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On Cleaning the Bookshelf

From Barnes & Noble blog is an article providing very practical suggestions to cleaning your bookshelves. I admit I tend to keep every book but in reality it’s not reasonable due to lack of space. Purging is the inevitable option. It’s not easy to pare down my library, but I tend to do it toward the end of the year before my big annual travel home to Asia.

The article raises some good points, and questions every reader can ask him-/herself when considering to purge:
1. Do I ever intend to reread this book?
I have books for which I have developed a sentimental attachments over the years and I am determined to keep them. I’m on a rotation to reread them, so they stay. Time constraint is something to consider when it comes to rereading.
2. If I haven’t read this book, how long has it been sitting there?
It depends on the author and my interest in the subject matter. If it was an impulse buy or a book gifted to me that I am not all that interested in, purged!
3. Am I keeping this book on the shelf to say something about myself?
I don’t have enough shelf space for self expression, so I’ll purge it. Doesn’t the entire book collection say something about myself already?
4. Was this nook part of a phase, and am I still in that phase?
I never assess my library in this consideration. But I can understand I probably don’t need all the supermarket novels that I perused out of boredom during my younger days.
5. Can I remember any significant plot details or characters from this book?
This is usually the deciding factor when purging. If I cannot recall any details or plot about a book, then it’s got to go. It means I wasn’t really all into it. The book has served its purpose and has not made an influence.
6. Is this part of a series, and did I buy the rest of the series?
The chance is if you jump ship after one installment, you’re not going to muster the will to plow through the rest. Time to rid of the book.

Reading Atlas Shrugged


I’ve been having a nose in Atlas Shrugged, which I read in conjunction with several book bloggers. One quote has been recurring throughout and I have only begun to realize its significance:

But what can you do when you have to deal with people? (Part I, Chapter VII)

This question is uttered on many occasions by Dr. Stadler, first in Part One, Chapter VII. Dr. Stadler on the government’s behalf asks the exclusive rights to “Rearden Metal”, a new metallurgical compound invented by Hank Rearden. The blue-green metal is tougher than steel and would be an asset to the railway industry. Rearden refuses and the government proceeds to indict him for violation of directives. The quote in question demonstrates Dr. Stradler and the looters’ (people gang up on successful industrialist like Rearden) belief that people are generally irrational and must be dealt with in a manipulative or repressive manner. Stadler believes most people are incapable of rational thought and must be told what is best for them. He believes they will support pure thought only if it is government-sanctioned, and this is why he has supported the creation of the State Science Institute. As the story progresses, this view of people becomes a justification for the increasing power of the government and its adoption of brute force. The question is also stated by Dr. Floyd Ferris at the unveiling of Project X. While coercing Stadler to deliver his speech praising the monstrous machine, Ferris reminds him that at a time of hysteria, riots, and mass violence, the people must be kept in line by any means necessary. He underscores his message by quoting the question Stadler himself is known for asking.

Does this sound relevant to some of the governing bodies nowadays?