Saturday, 5 December 2009

Which books would you save from the flood?

According to when Waterstones Swansea was flooded they saved the books on Hitler. It made me wonder what I'd save out of the 10,000 or so books I have about the house. I think I'm going to let all the reference books go, even though it's taken me years to build up a decent collection. Of other non-fiction, the only book I'm keeping is Antonia Fraser's wonderful study of women in the C17th because it made such an impression on me when I first read it, and I hope I'd be inspired to rebuild my post-flood life by the stories of women such as Lady Brilliana Harvey.

On to fiction. There are books that I have loved desperately and passionately but - rather like former boyfriends - I haven't thought of in years and suspect they won't stand up to viewing today. Authors like Jean Plaidy and - gulp - Georgette Heyer, although I will have to save Venetia. Sadly, they will have to take their chances with the water, the exception being Elizabeth Goudge and The Dean's Watch, The Little White Horse and the Damerosehay trilogy. Of the classics a certain degree of literary honesty will be required, and Camus, Tolstoy and Woolf will be left behind, along with Dickens, who I've never really enjoyed. Austen will definitely be coming with me, and if there's only room for one, it'll be Persuasion. However, I'm hoping there's time to grab the complete works and Jon Spence's Becoming Jane, which I preferred to Claire Tomalin's biography.

Moving on to more recent reads, Anne Tyler is essential, though if space is limited it'll only be the books with a male protagonist as I find her women protagonists a bit wet and in the circumstances that's unfortunate. William Trevor's Complete Short Stories will sustain me with their gentle wit and intelligence as will Nadine Gordimer's. My groaning To Be Read shelf will have to be left behind, so I'll miss out on Steig Larsson who was next up.

And if there's only one book to save? Shakespeare's Complete Sonnets. The wisdom of the world in one pocket sized volume. Which books would you choose?

No comments: