In my ongoing effort to pare down my shelves, I've decided to confront what has been the glaring coexistence of two books on my shelf: Daniel Pool's What Jane Austen Ate, What Charles Dickens Knew and Ruth Goodman's How to be a Victorian. Both are similar, yet they may not be similar enough
Pool's book has been taking space on my shelf for over two decades. His goal in writing it was to explain Victorian life as it's represented in its most enduring cultural artifacts: the many novels of its age. Have you ever been confused by various English legal courts chronicled in Dickens's novels, or the different types of servants mentioned in Trollope's works? If so, then this is an ideal book to have.
Goodman's book is more recent. and her approach is different. in it, she dissects Victorian life by describing its daily routines, from sunup until bedtime. This is not just the product of documentary research, though, as Goodman adopts an archaeological approach by describing her firsthand observations of the physical objects (such as clothing) and other artifacts now preserved in museums and other collections. It's not always an idea approach, but in the case of this book it works well.
As you can see there is considerable overlap between the two books, yet at the same time the differences are not so great as to easily justify getting rid of both. So I'm trying to decide what to do. Do I get rid of one of them? If so, which one? Any suggestions you might have, especially if you've read one or both of these books, would be greatly appreciated.