Wednesday 1 February 2023

As Cults Go, It's Rather Innocuous....

Rhiannon Lucy Cosslett on the latest thing that makes you one of the 'smug middle classes':
The big book purge began when I decided to go through the shelves and discard any book I was vaguely embarrassed to have in the house, for reasons of quality, subject matter, politics or author (look at your shelves and you probably have your own equivalents). Since then, I’ve been jettisoning them every few months with no regrets. Only twice have I needed to look something up in a book I’ve thrown away, and rebought a cheap secondhand copy.

Budgeting in her household must be fun... 

The poster shows a cat and bears the slogan: “THAT’S WHAT I DO, I READ BOOKS, I DRINK TEA AND I KNOW THINGS.” Apologies if you own this poster, but to me it encapsulates everything that is smug and middle class about the cult of book ownership. I don’t mean reading – provided you’re lucky enough to still have a local library, that is a pastime that is accessible to almost everyone. No, I specifically mean having a lot of books and boasting about it, treating having a lot of books as a stand-in for your personality, or believing that simply owning a lot of books makes one “know things”.

God, the 'Guardian' really is an awful rag, isn't it? 


  1. What a strange set of priorities; it seems odd to talk of “any book I was vaguely embarrassed to have in the house for reasons of quality, subject matter, politics or author”, as if the opinion of visitors is more important than one’s own choice of reading material.

  2. Any visitor who does not like my selection of books is quite welcome to f- go away.

  3. Do I care what others think of my book collection? Absolutely NOT. If any visitors were to query why I have any particular volume the answer would be "Because I can read".

  4. Actually, I think it might be rather fun to watch the reaction of a Guardianista confronted with my much beloved volumes of Kipling, Rider Haggard, H P Lovecraft, Nevil Shute and so on (and even more so to watch the cognitive dissonance set in as they reach the politics section and are faced with Karl Marx and Owen Jones rubbing shoulders with Douglas Murray and Melanie Phillips).

    In a rather more serious vein, in trying to impress her peers by throwing out books because of the authors’ politics or opinions, Ms Cosslett has inadvertently given us an indication of her (and their) lack of open mindedness and a useful insight into the echo chamber of the Left.

  5. Somehow I get the feeling she inherited her books.
    Someone else will benefit.
    Oh to have the space for all those books. Before e-books I was a book hoarder. Each one read and , if not passed to a charity shop, kept to be read again.
    Now e- books mean I do not need to keep the hard copy. But I still do.
    And there is something about a good hard cover, or an old yellowing paper back. And they smell nice.


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