Tuesday, May 15, 2007

House of books

When the Alarmingly Expensive Renovation was done, a couple of years after I moved in to the house, the architect put in two bookcases on each level of the stairs. Because of on-the-fly construction decisions, there is also a built-in in the living room and two in what is now A.'s office. We already had 5 full-size free-standing bookcases and numerous smaller ones (one of our early outings when we were dating was to IKEA to buy bookcases--convenient that we chose matching ones for our then-separate homes, no?) The headboard of our bed includes one modest bookshelf for each of us in lieu of a bedside table, and a broad and sturdy top for all the bedside-table-type stuff displaced by books. We are not above pressing milkcrates into service, graduate-student style.

These shelves were all full, or nearly, before I began being inundated each month by free galleys from publishers. And before Z.'s arrival brought a third "reader" into the house. Books now settle in corners of our house like dust.

There is no shelf in our house that doesn't have a book on it, at least from time to time. No windowsill, no toilet tank, no dish or pantry or glassware shelf. The tea shelves are only spared because they are too full of tea and too narrow for cantilevering, anyway. The mugs on the sideboard support a thin layer of books. The stairs, until my mother decluttered them, held piles of books waiting for months to be shelved with their kin. Each bathroom has a small but overflowing box of picture and board books next to the potty. Each easy seat in the living room has its reading light and pile of books-in-progress.

As chaotic as the piles are, once they reach the bookcases, each book is sorted by genre or topic, and often alphabetically and chronologically as well. This is as much a product of my love as my garden.

How, my readers, do you live with your love of books?

Inspired by Niobe's post on this theme.


E. said...

S., it was great to see you, A., and Z. earlier this week! Thank you so much for hosting me and T.

Re: books, I sympathize with your problem. To keep the inevitable overcrowding at bay, we bought a floor-to-ceiling shelving system. It gives us about 8 feet of vertical storage along an entire 14-foot wall.

This may not be enough for your purposes: I can say from (envious and joyful!) first-hand experience that your collection far outranks ours. I should tell you that, although T. and I hang out with many people who have large libraries, yours is by far our favorite, both for its variety and for its depth. It's as if a very good friend hand-picked all the stuff we're most interested in (which is, of course, precisely what you did)!

(Shopping notes: The shelving system we have was about $350 from IKEA. It's been discontinued, but I think other, similar styles are still in stock.)

S. said...

Welcome E.! Thanks so much for the nice feedback on my library, and for maintaining complete internet silence on the state of the rest of the house. Z. loved seeing her aunties.

See, all my other real life friends? I'm very nice when you de-lurk!