By the book

In her latest column on life at The Mill community centre, Helen Bigham shares her love of books

Honesty Library

The ‘Honesty Library’ at The Mill in Walthamstow

At the heart of The Mill community centre is our ‘Honesty Library’ stocked high with books donated by the community.

Anyone can borrow a book without any formalities. Donated books are always welcome and if there’s not enough room to display or store them, we’ll pass them on to other local charities, or use them to raise funds.

One of the joys of working here is I get to see all of these new donations. Similar to Dr Seuss, I believe:”The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” However, on the flip-side, I’m running out of shelf space at home.

Hands up, I’m a book hoarder, and I share the common hoarder mindset of thinking that I might need it again someday. I also have a romantic idea that I’ll share my love of books and taste in literature with my daughters. But now I’ve come to the realisation that it’s unlikely that I’ll ever re-read all of my books and that the joy of a new book does not follow in my family.

To remedy my storage problem, I’m now following the maxim of one book in, one book out. First to go are my not-so-favorites, books I’ve started and never finished, although I always know the ending of any story. Here’s another confession: I read the last few pages quite early on so I know what to look out for. Next to be thrown out are the unread books that have been on my shelves forever, but I know don’t interest me. Lastly are the books that I’ve enjoyed, I won’t read again, but want to share with other people.

To de-clutter I pulled all the books off the shelves. This helps me commit to the effort of looking at each book and deciding if it should be placed back on a shelf. For each one I asked myself: “Will I read this book within the next six months?” If yes, it has a reprieve and gets put back. If no, I add it to my purge pile and donate to The Mill.

To help you de-clutter The Mill also has a table at the St James Big Local Jumble Trail on 17th September; as after all, one person’s rubbish is someone else’s treasure!

Are you browsing the bookshelves and not sure what to read? Check out our book suggestion section, or fill in a recommendation card. Alongside the Honesty Library, The Mill holds a monthly book club. The group meets on the first Tuesday of the month, 7pm-9pm, for a £1 donation. If you’re not a reader and want encouragement to start reading, why not come along?

There are lots of benefits; you get to meet different people who have their own distinct take on the book at hand; you get the chance to gain a window into their lives and read things that you wouldn’t otherwise read; we all thrive on friendship and book clubs are a great excuse to make and keep friends.

A final thought: Why don’t we launch our own literary festival in Waltham Forest?

For more information on the Honesty Library: