Are books, CDs and DVDs just clutter? One couple debates the pros and cons

Are you clinging on to all those precious paperbacks and favourite films, or have you embraced digital and reclaimed all that shelf space?

Pink book shelves stacked full of books
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We've all been there - read a novel, thriller or rom-com and then popped it on the shelf because you have fond memories of reading it. The same goes for DVDs the kids watched when they were little or the CDs from the Nineties that take you back to younger days. Book storage ideas could be the answer, but we know it is a hot topic amongst partners.

In a recent poll, you told us you were all for holding onto CDs, DVDs and books. Only 20.62 per cent said agreed they were clutter, while just under 80 per cent said 'no' they weren't.

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So are books and CDs just clutter? Here one couple argues the toss... 

Yes roundel in red

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Noel, 41, lives with his wife Claire and their two children, Charlie, five and Rosa, one, in a Sixties semi in Marple, Greater Manchester. He is a massive film buff.

‘I’ve always been obsessed with film and have even written a book about the Eighties home video explosion. So it probably comes as a surprise to some that I don’t have a single DVD or video at home. The thing is, why would I? Nowadays, I don’t have to physically own a film to be able to watch it – I can just download or stream it. I’m the same with books – I’m an avid reader, but I use a tablet or e-reader.

When I was writing my book, I amassed hundreds of old VHS tapes as part of my research. And, as soon as I’d finished, I took great pleasure in getting rid of them all. Doing that frees the mind, because living with clutter just weighs you down.

Meanwhile, Claire’s books are taking over the house. I think she lives under the illusion that she’s going to have time to sit down and read them all. But the truth is, she’s far too busy, so they just sit there, gathering dust. I’ve also learnt that the more stuff you have on shelves, the more the kids can get hold of to chuck around! 

I’ve managed to lay claim to some wall space, though, where I’ve put up a couple of favourite film posters. Having a movie print on the wall expresses my personality and passions in a far more effective – and tidier – way than shelves full of DVDs. It feels more personal and curated.’

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Claire, 33, is Noel's wife. She admits that shelf space is at a premium in their busy family home.

‘I do admit that I buy far more books than I have time to read. But that’s not the only reason I buy them. I like having them around to inspire me, and being able to dip in and out of them. I also love the look, feel and design of books. Some of them are absolutely beautiful, so they add to the decor and atmosphere of our home. 

Our bookcases are full to bursting, and I’m having to get a bit creative in the way I display them – although I still think they look fairly tidy. I’ve also got an ‘in progress’ pile of books next to the bed, which drives Noel mad. I did try an e-reader once, but hated it. I’m much happier carrying a hardback around. After all, we spend enough time staring at screens.

Pull quote on Cds

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I think it’s healthy for the kids to be surrounded by books. I’ve got a lot of cookbooks and Charlie loves looking through them and pointing at the pictures he likes. So it’s helping him to learn about food, too. 

I really enjoy having a nose through other people’s books, music and DVDs when I go to their homes. It’s a great conversation-starter and helps you get to know one another better. I have to be honest: if I went to someone’s house and they didn’t have any bookshelves, just minimalist decor, I’d think they must be really boring.’

With contributions from