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I Murdered My Library (Kindle Single) [Kindle Edition]

Linda Grant
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (73 customer reviews)

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  • Length: 28 pages (estimated)
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Book Description

What happens when you begin to build a library in childhood and then find you have too many books? From a small collection held together by a pair of plaster of Paris horse-head bookends to books piled on stairs, and in front of each other on shelves, books cease to furnish a room and begin to overwhelm it. At the end of 2013, novelist Linda Grant moved from a rambling maisonette over four floors to a two bedroom flat with a tiny corridor-shaped study. The trauma of getting rid of thousands of books raises the question of what purpose personal libraries serve in contemporary life and the seductive lure of the Kindle. Both a memoir of a lifetime of reading and an insight into how interior décor has banished the bookcase, her account of the emotional struggle of her relationship with books asks questions about the way we live today.

Linda Grant is an award-winning novelist and non-fiction writer. Her novel WHEN I LIVED IN MODERN TIMES won the Orange Prize for Fiction in 2000 and THE CLOTHES ON THEIR BACKS was shortlisted for the Booker Prize in 2008 and won the South Bank Show Award. Her latest novel, UPSTAIRS AT THE PARTY, will be published in July 2014. She lives in London with fewer books than she used to.

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More About the Author

Linda Grant was born in Liverpool on 15 February 1951, the child of Russian and Polish Jewish immigrants. She was educated at the Belvedere School (GDST), read English at the University of York, completed an M.A. in English at MacMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario and did further post-graduate studies at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, Canada, where she lived from 1977 to 1984.

Her first book, Sexing the Millennium: A Political History of the Sexual Revolution was published in 1993. Her first novel, The Cast Iron Shore, published in 1996, won the David Higham First Novel Award and was shortlisted for the Guardian Fiction Prize. Remind Me Who I am Again, an account of her mother's decline into dementia and the role that memory plays in creating family history, was published in 1998 and won the MIND/Allen Lane Book of the Year award and the Age Concern Book of the Year award. Her second novel, When I Lived in Modern Times, set in Tel Aviv in the last years of the British Mandate, published in March 2000, won the Orange Prize for Fiction and was shortlisted for the Jewish Quarterly Prize and the Encore Prize. Her novel, Still Here, published in 2002, was longlisted for the Booker Prize. Her non-fiction work, The People On The Street: A Writer's View of Israel, published in 2006, won the Lettre Ulysses Prize for Literary Reportage. Her Booker Prize shortlisted novel, The Clothes On Their Backs, was published in February 2008. Linda's most recent book, The Thoughful Dresser was published in March 2009.

She has written a radio play, Paul and Yolande, which was broadcast on Radio 4 in October 2006, and a short story, Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds, part of a week of stories by Liverpool writers commemorating the 40th anniversary of the Beatles, Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band, broadcast in July 2007.

She has also contributed to various collections of essays. Her work is translated into French, German, French, Dutch, Danish, Swedish, Spanish, Portuguese, Italian, Czech, Russian, Polish, Turkish and Chinese.


The Clothes On Their Backs Shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize 2008
Winner South Bank Show Award

The People on the Street:
A Writer's View of Israel Lettre Ulysses Prize for Literary Reportage

When I Lived in Modern Times Winner, Orange Prize for Fiction 2000

Shorlisted: Jewish Quarterly Prize

Encore Prize

Remind Me Who I Am, Again Mind Book of the Year 1999

Age Concern Book of the Year 1999

The Cast Iron Shore David Higham First Novel Prize

Shortlisted Guardian Fiction Prize

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Murdered My Library 23 May 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
When author Linda Grant was moving home, she had to take a long, hard look at the library of books she had built up over a lifetime. As she muses, “you cannot have a taste for minimalist decor if you seriously read books.” So much of this short book resonated with me, as I had also recently reached the point where books stopped furnishing my rooms and started taking over my house. Like Grant I was a bookish child who, “preferred above all else, as I still do, to stay indoors and read.” This book takes us through Grant’s early love of books and she recalls how books taught her everything – when first living alone as a student, for example, she turned to a cookbook for advice. There seems nothing that books cannot teach you – they are company, friends and a place to retreat. Yet, the author admits that she came eventually to hate these books which her estate agent looked at with such desperation; seeing not beloved friends but clutter and mess. They were heavy, dirty, dusty and the font size was too small. Her kindle, by comparison, was small, tactile and simple...

Books do certainly define a person’s identity. Like Grant, anyone who steps through my front door asks that question, “have you read all these books?!” They offer comfort and reassurance and, if you are a serious reader, you cannot help pass a bookshop without going in – it is an addiction. Like Grant I have recently also ‘murdered’ my library – ridding myself of hundreds of books. Anything which can be brought on kindle was ruthlessly recycled and now – although I still have a lot of books by most people’s standards – I do have a lot less. So I empathised completely with Grant’s feelings of desperation to rid herself of these books and yet her guilt over doing so. This is an entertaining read, full of humour and warmth.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Unnervingly honest 8 May 2014
By Beryl
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I am going through a similar process, downsizing, three quarters of the way through my life, hopefully. The change in attitude towards books, which has happened during our lifetime is extremely difficult to process and is written about here so movingly. Where have all the books gone? Can we exist with out them? Thank goodness for e-readers and writers who can engage us.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing 27 May 2014
By Claretta VINE VOICE
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I've enjoyed LInda Grant's novels and this sounded like great fun - a writer musing on the dispersal of her huge collection of books. It's very short, and really there is nothing much to it; there is the usual stuff about much-loved childhood books, and a nice section about her collection of Penguins, and some musings on the Kindle and what it means for bookshops, but it's all disappointingly trite and superficial. Of course, as it's by Linda Grant, it's beautifully written, but it reads like something that was dashed off in a couple of afternoons when she couldn't get on with her latest novel.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A treat for heavy readers 13 May 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A helpful read for those of us facing the job of culling books from our libraries. A joy to read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I Murdered My Library 24 May 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I loved reading this little book and found myself nodding my head and agreeing with just about everything the author said. If you have loved books and reading all your life and always bought books then you will eventually find yourself in a situation where books threaten to take over your house. There comes a point where hard decisions need to be made about buying a bigger house - with all the costs that entails - or downsizing your personal library to fit the space you have available for it.

The author, having lived in the same place for many years, decided to move house and as she was moving somewhere smaller she had to reduce her personal library to something like sensible proportions. A difficult and heart breaking task for any book lover and something I have done several times in my life. It does feel like murder as, to a book lover, all books have associations and the author shares some of hers with the reader.

If you're interested in finding out how other bookworms feel and think about their books then read this. You will find you have much in common with the author and you may also pick up some good recommendations for books you might want to read. At least with e-book readers space ceases to be a physical problem and anyone can happily keep a library of many thousands of volumes.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars What a good writer writes when she's not writing 2 Jan. 2015
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
This is Ok. It comes across much like long blog post. Given that a decent coffee is getting on for £3 it seems churlish to complain about paying a pound to read it, but blog posts do tend to be free.

I think I'd feel more charitable if, through her experience she felt able to share some pearls of wisdom for those of us facing the same dilemma, but she doesn't. She muses on her situation, throws in a few anecdotes and suddenly it's all over - so suddenly in fact, that I didn't realise I'd finished it until I turned the next page and found myself here being asked to review it. Ultimately it reminds me of a well written women's magazine article where the writer calls out "isn't it awwwful?" and we all chorus back "oooh, I knoooowww".

The telling comment is that she's so disturbed by the whole process and outcome that she can't get back to writing, so she's writing this instead. I suspect her publisher phoned her with a deadline reminder of sudden curative effect, but it would have been a more satisfying read if she'd stayed with it long enough to have added even one helpful insight to a dilemma faced by many of us.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Good.
Published 3 months ago by W.P. GILLETTE-FUSSELL
4.0 out of 5 stars A short but engaging treatment of the inevitable challenge facing ...
A short but engaging treatment of the inevitable challenge facing most book-lovers in time: clearing out those crowded shelves of bulky books. Is Kindle the answer?
Published 5 months ago by Russell James
5.0 out of 5 stars Guilty of libricide
So true to my experience as I face my final purging of the shelves before moving across the country. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Mr. C. Charnock
2.0 out of 5 stars I Murdered My Library
It was okay. Read it to the end. I have to say it was a good piece of descriptive writing.
Published 6 months ago by Jakub Czekalski
4.0 out of 5 stars oh No! I recognise myself in this
A great short read with which I have the utmost sympathy - realising that as I too begin to use kindle more and more I am amassing a large pile of unread books in the bedroom, just... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Ms J M Pryke
3.0 out of 5 stars The rise of the digital age
Is this in praise of digital books? I think it supports the view that both formats can co-exist. We can all downsize but there will always be the joy of handling a printed book
Published 7 months ago by harps
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Was so looking forward to reading this, gave up about half way
Published 7 months ago by Amazon Customer
5.0 out of 5 stars Very sensible and balanced
Having been branded a bookworm as a child and derided for "sitting around reading", I could identify with this book (though unlike Ms Grant I did enjoy kicking a football,... Read more
Published 7 months ago by Cheshire Tiger
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Moderately interesting.
Published 7 months ago by joyce marie evans
4.0 out of 5 stars Murder most bookish
An interesting book, particularly as I amtrying to downsize my own collection sme useful hints
Published 7 months ago by Mrs Valerie E. Wareham
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