Thursday, February 14, 2008

Overcome by the Written Word

This bookshelf accurately represents the state of chaos our “library” is in. Every surface in every room seems to have piles of books, some read, some unread, and some with bookmarks.

I used to think our book inventory was under control, purging each year to send books to the Burgundy Fall Fair. But since we left Burgundy Farm Country Day School in 1998, the books have just been piling up.

You can see in the picture how we have cleverly piled them on top of the shelved books since they no longer fit on their shelf. Then there’s the entire Harry Potter series in its box forming a second row.

I even see a section of this very same bookshelf dedicated to books from courses we took in college (that would be about 40 years ago) – gems like “Elements of Abstract Algebra” and “Langue et Civilisation Francaises”. It would probably be quite safe to unload those shelves.

Then there are the boxes of books in the attic. They are labeled, but very rarely frequented. Who can possibly remember what’s in the attic?

I’m sure there are loaners mixed up in all of this assortment of books. I know for a fact that a guy I met at the Library of Congress loaned me “Man’s Fate” by Andre Malraux in 1972 and I never returned it to him, nor did I ever read it. But it’s here somewhere.

I need a game plan for all this reading material. Any suggestions?


Blogger Kate said...

That's what moving 5 times in 20 years can do for you: purge your books. I am now down to 6 floor to ceiling bookcases and consider myself lucky. I also am greatly enamored of the Maricopa County library which houses a tremendous collection including hundreds of newly published books. BOMC no longer gets my shekels since I discovered this library. Happy purging!

12:04 PM  
Blogger steve said...

I was at a party one time, I did not know the Host or many people there...I always gravitate towards the bookshelf or the Backyard and as I looked the bookshelf over I saw a copy of 'Jason and the Argonauts"...I picked it from the shelf and opened it up and there on the inside cover was the High School library pocket and i had to smile...this was the very book I had stolen 20 years before from the Library and subsequently gave to my friend Diane.
i glanced around and asked who the host was again and if he were married. he was married to a lady named Daine.

With much glee, i took this book to her and accused her of having stolen it. At first she was offended, but then she took a closer look at me, recognized me, and we just busted out laughin'!

I'd sure like to take a look through your bookshelf!

12:37 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Kate -- It would do us a world of good to move right now! There is more than books to be cleaned out in this house we've been in for over 30 years.

Steve -- Great story! I'm not sure I'd want you poking through my bookshelves. You might find blackmail material I've all but forgotten about. I don't think you ever gave me any books, did you?

12:55 PM  
Blogger Richard said...

Get more shelves and get more books.

1:25 PM  
Blogger Kristin said...

A friend of mine recommend Goodreads as a way of tracking books, figuring out read lists and creating "want to read" lists.

In terms of books you don't want to keep, the other day Hey Pretty posted about donating books to prisons.

2:45 PM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Richard -- I would have to figure out where to put additional shelves.

Kristin -- Thanks for the suggestion about where to donate used books.

10:38 PM  
Blogger Pauline said...

shelve the attic walls and get those books out of cartons ;)

7:14 AM  
Blogger kimy said...

you gathered lots of great ideas! being surrounded by books is a source of great comfort. but it does it have it's downside.

many years ago we were at we at risk of becoming buried by our books - despite period weeding and donations we committed ourselves to using the library A LOT more and buying books less.

but once a bibliophile, always a bibliophile and there are some books I find I just must have..... so being at the cusp of being covered with books is a constant conditon. eek! good luck!!

7:18 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Pauline -- I am actually considering shelving more of the basement walls for this purpose, since one can stand up in the basement and not in the attic!

Kimy -- Lots of good advice. I just need to kick myself into action and work on this problem at this point.

9:57 AM  
Blogger Richard said...

I am sure you can find something to clear out and make space for more shelving (I hear pianos take up a lot of room ...).

You can also be creative. I used to have some bookselves in the centre of the study. I liked it because it divided the room. Sofia hated it. One day, after the kids knocked over one of the shelves, they got moved to the walls. sigh.

11:07 AM  
Blogger Colette Amelia said...

Yes there is something about books that make me feel like it is against the law or religion or the librarian to get rid of or at least ensure they go to a good home. Orphaned books just is not a good concepts.

9:43 PM  
Blogger Kellyann Brown said...

Be sure to check out

Also, all major holidays, my family comes with paperpacks to share, and my mom lays out boxes of books on a table in the gargage, take what you want, leave what you want...

I love to bundle up a years full of magazines and get some one else's year... I vie to get the gourmets and give up my own Martha Stewart, that way I feel that I get twice my money's worth. Our library accepts donations of books to the Friends of the Library which sells them for cheap to other readers. Consider putting a "free" bookshelf in a public place, our YMCA has a free bookshelf and I bring and take all the time! just a few ideas, I have a million books, as do all my sibs. It's important to keep them moving!

OH! Don't forget the lure of using a book to make art... deconstruct, reconstruct!

2:38 AM  
Blogger Barbara said...

Colette -- I agree there is something almost sacred about books.

Kelly -- WOW! You have given me a bunch of great ideas. I have put my books on notice that they will no longer be able to collect dust!

6:46 AM  
Blogger GEWELS said...

I will occasionally box mine up and take them to the public library- which holds a fundraising book sale every year.
Of course, last week I went looking for a couple of books I told people I would lend out and, nope, gone, sold at the book sale.
Join my shelfari "50 books this year" group- so far I've read 5 in 6 weeks. Maybe you could lend me a few and I'll forget to return them.

10:59 AM  

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