Monday, April 22, 2013

living in a library

I've always wanted to have a library.

Ever so rarely - and I do mean rarely - I will take the dog out for her short morning walk. Usually it's Jon who takes her, but last Thursday things were running a little late and I was up and dressed so he asked me to run her outside. As Wembley and I were strolling down the street, I noticed that someone further down the block had put a set of wooden Ikea shelves out on the sidewalk. I grabbed 'em.

We've had four printer-paper boxes packed with books in the storage room since we moved last summer. We've had the top shelf of the built-in unit stuffed with books to the point that nothing was remotely accessible: two and three deep and stacked three and four high, and shoved in at all angles. Ugh.

all together again!

I was going to build some shelves to run the length of the wall at the end of the room, next to the couch. I even had my inspiration photos on Pinterest. I had measurements. What I didn't have was a drawn out plan for assembly, the time, the space or yet the motivation to actually, you know, build them. The books languished in their boxes. But finding these shelves on the street was a fabulous tipping point: I may not have the motivation to dive into constructing shelves right now, but drive out to Ikea and pick up a couple more pieces to extend the scavenged set? Sure thing.

I love them. I don't care if they are rudimentary - actually, I quite like the simplistic look of them - I just so enjoy having access to every single one of my books again. We did a major purge of our library before the move (I'm regretting a few of our omissions now, though) so we don't have so many books that I feel overwhelmed by them. I threw them onto the shelves haphazardly yesterday, so today I got to organize them.

And yes, it really was terribly fun. Who's got two thumbs and is a total nerd? This momma.

the corner

hrmmm, not quite right

from ancient Greece to contemporary China

a space for something special

knitting and kid-lit

reference books

I grouped them by topic. Originally, they were, from left to right, starting on the top shelf: poetry, lecture notes and personal writing; Waldorf, parenting and birth resources, feminist literature and a hodge-podge with Dante thrown in without reason; Classics (plays and epics) philosophy - arranged more or less chronologically, political science - again, more or less chronologically including our copy of The British North America Act (what, you don't have it?), with a photo book of babies and a photography reference manual to add an air of randomness; 

middle shelf: novels, arranged by author and title; a shelf of all religious texts: general religious theory (Otto, Eliade, Paden, etc.), Christian theology, both medieval (Augustine, Aquinas) and modern (Niebuhr, Bonhoeffer, Barth, Frye), devotional materials (Chambers, Claiborne, Nederhood), bibles and concordances, followed by more practical commentary and history (Nishioka, Rutherford, Migliore, etc.) and then what texts I have from or relating to other faiths (Epic of Gilgamesh, The Bhagavad-Gita, Siddhartha, Darsan), and an old hymnal; 

bottom shelf: (hidden beside the couch) the printer; knitting books and magazines and a random assortment of books, including some children's lit; photo albums, large picture books, old school notes, church reference materials (Book of Forms, woot-woot!) dictionaries and a Fowler's, a bunch of Nortons and our collective yearbooks.

But then I took a step back and decided that it didn't make as much sense as I would like. You see, I may anthropomorphize my books a wee bit. I group my feminist lit next to my birth resources because I like to imagine that Hannah Arendt and Ina May Gaskin are enjoying a cup of tea and a chat by sharing a shelf; I have Alberto Manguel alongside Thoreau because I think a dinner party featuring the two of them would be rather awesome. So when I looked at the shelves, it seemed odd to me that my religious texts weren't next to my philosophical texts. So I switched 'em, the top shelf for the middle one, and stuck Dante's Comedia where it belongs, with all the other religious and philosophical texts (I put it there because, while it's poetry, my motivation for reading it isn't merely poetical, but theological in nature. It's a toss up, but it has to go somewhere, and Dante seems more at home alongside Diana Eck and Thomas Aquinas than Ezra Pound or Walt Whitman). 


It's such a joyful sight, all these books. Having purged so many over the past eighteen months, I can honestly say we have chosen to have all these books and have made the conscious decision to keep them in our home. When I look at our library, I don't have that self-satisfied materialistic feeling of pride in my possessions, but rather such enormous potential. There are so many things to read, and so many thoughts that could result from that reading. As a result of unearthing all our books, I've picked up a classic, Orwell's 1984, which I've somehow never read before. And we're all reading just a little bit more than we were last week: it's hard not to feel inspired to read when surrounded by books.


1 comment:

  1. Anonymous1:43 AM

    Hooray for books! I know I never feel quite properly moved into a place until I've got all my books up and displayed, somehow - although granted, I still stack my partner's trade paperbacks a couple deep to make more room for my "art of" books and, of course, all the kids' books that somehow find their way everyplace.



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