Here’s a conundrum that irks me; it shouldn’t be a conundrum at all. Up in the loft I have the best part of a metric tonne of books that need to go to a new home. There’s a huge range of material; stripy Faber paperback novels, orange fifties Penguin novels, piles of choice Sci-Fi, lots of lovely old reference books, huge Dorling Kindersley doorstep coffee table tomes, history and geography books on a variety of themes, historical atlases, collections of photographs, all sorts of glories. The only common theme is that I’ve chosen to acquire them over the years. Now they have to go, so that I can reclaim the loft space for more recent “stuff”.
There seem to be a limited number of ways in which to achieve this:
1) bung them in a skip.
2) identify someone or somewhere specific who will really benefit from them.
3) give them to a charity shop.
The first option is just not on. I’d rather saw off my own arms than just trash them. My enlightenment genes would rebel and my eyes would explode if I treated any books with contempt. I can’t even fold over the corner of a page; I’d come out in hives.
The second option, which sounds like the best possible outcome, is obviously quite a difficult thing to do; I can’t advertise them, “Prove to me that you’re a worthy recipient of my boundless beneficence and I will deliver to you a small personally assembled library of great intellectual and social historical worth.”.
The fall-back position, I suppose, is option the third, but sadly I have a real problem with that option too.
This last year, on an almost daily basis, I’ve seen the charity book shops in Bath, a wealthy middle-class haven in the hinterland between the commuter belts orbiting the Great Wen and the bleak forgotten lands of the real South West. These places are obviously paying humongous rents for occupying their Georgian splendour, and the volunteers that work in them have all benefited from the sorts of education that are only two-a-penny in the Halls of Westminster. These organisations have Boards Of Directors. They have Committees with Chairpeople. They pay big salaries. They are starting to smack of a racket. I’m not sure I wish to gift them a couple of hundred quid’s worth of fine literature and pristine reference material, not because I don’t think their charities will bring benefit to those who need it, but because a sliver, quite a chunky sliver I suspect, of that benefit will also accrue to the professional charridy types who run them. Not to mention that I suspect some charity shops will smile sweetly, accept the books and then resort to flogging them for pulp; back to the first option, but the long way round.
So, dear Afterworder, can you save me from the need to carry out extensive further research, can you end my philosophical torment and RECOMMEND A CHARITY TO WHOM I CAN GIVE THE WHOLE BLOODY LOT, safe in the knowledge that some oily toe-rag won’t pocket a fat slice of the action, and that the books will be sympathetically sold on to real customers and not just pulped?