My partner once heard of someone with 35,000 books who needed to see their books in order to feel complete. I had my books in boxes for a decade and my mind felt their absence. A gap in who I am. I would occasionally rummage through the boxes in search of one, or in search of any. I have a need to see my books or at least know my books are seeable/accessible to feel at ease.

Living room

Every time I move house, I pack and unpack, play with arrangement, change. In my flat, the main cases, and others were in the large, expansive open plan living/lounge/dining space. In my previous place they were in a large bed/games/spare space. In our new place the main cases are in the lounge.

The main cases are a set of 4 built by my grandfather as a wedding present to my parents. I suspect that means they’re probably around 60 years old now. Deep shelves on the bottom to support shallower shelves on top. Dad used to have them side by side but I’ve been fond of interlocking.

The bookcases my grandfather built fit certain sizes of books. I have many books that are a little too tall or a lot too tall. So I have other shelves in other rooms. I occasionally wonder if I can add glass doors to the shelves to provide a little protection. Open shelves attract dust and I am not good at dusting, nor getting round to dusting.

The placement of books can be fluid at times. Some of my books are even in alphabetical order, though some are arranged by publisher or prettiness. Some things remain consistent, the bottom 3 shelves work well for the bulk of my science fiction including the entirety of the Pratchett oeuvre. I continue to be happy with the kids books on the left. I’ve weeded some in the last move but Trixie and Biggles remain. Travel is working off to the right, just at the edge of possible…as is the idea of travel.

Main bookcase in new home

This time I’ve got a chunk of fancy books front and centre. Previously the fancy were in the bedroom, some still are. In part due to shelf height though the Capt America omnibuses seem to have made themselves at home in the bedroom across multiple houses. The fancy books are pretty and I don’t like them hidden away. They should be seen and touched and read. Have wine and coffee spilt on them, crumbs caught in them…chocolate smears.

Carlos Ruiz Zafón

The main cases exist for access but also as a space for me to stand and stare and ponder. I seem to achieve a certain state of ease in the presence of my books, they free my mind a little. That’s as distinct from the mental simulation of reading them. Their presence matters. A foundation of sorts. Late at night, I sometimes stand in front of my books, pausing with one or two, othertimes the mass. Occasionally thinking on the books, occasionally thinking on other thoughts entirely.

One thought on “shelf arrangement

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