RULE #1: THE PRIME DIRECTIVE -- It is unacceptable to display any book in a public space of your home if you have not read it. Therefore, to be placed on Matt Selman's living room bookshelves, a book must have been read cover to cover, every word, by Matt Selman.
Hmm. Where do you suppose Matt Selman keep all the books he has purchased or borrowed or been gifted with but has not yet read? Stacked under the kitchen sink? And does he keep all of the books he reads, or just the ones he reads and likes?
There are a number of unread books in my living room bookcases. There are also quite a few books I have begun but have been unable to finish, although I will try again one day because I suspect I'll be glad to have read them. Moby Dick and the newly deceased Bill Buckley's Brothers No More are two novels in that category.
If I love a book and believe I may read it again one day, I'll keep it. I do not keep books that I have read or skimmed and have no further use for, but I do try to find good homes for them. The way I figure it, a book that doesn't knock my socks off deserves a chance to knock somebody else's socks off. But a bad book must be punished, so into the paper-recylcling bin it goes. I never give bad books away because I don't want to play any role in promoting bad writing or what I consider to be offensive subject matter.
This morning I trashed three bad books, two of which had been sent to me, I believe, in the hope that I would mention them here on NRJW. (I gave them a glance and decided both authors were darn lucky I don't review books on this blog.) The third book was a romance novel I had to judge for Romance Writers of America's RITA contest. (On a scale of 1-10, I gave it a 2, then regretted my generosity. I wouldn't even reccommend lining a birdcage with those pages unless it could be established beyond any doubt that the bird was illiterate.)
What's your criteria for keeping and discarding books?