This is one of my bookshelves (the least messy one). A good friend bought it for me when I got married (what kind of self-respecting bibliophile would I be if I didn’t put a bookshelf on my wedding registry, right?). When people come to my home, many of them comment on the vast number of books I own. Admittedly, the visitors’ remarks make me feel a little proud. That sense of pride though is tempered by self-consciousness because I’m not very orderly; the texts aren’t organized by genre or title or color or even by size, but merely placed haphazardly (albeit lovingly) on the shelves. It’s organized chaos, much like the rest of my belongings. But part of me likes this randomness I see when I look across the room: Poe next to Baldwin; Strayed pressed up against Gladwell; Virgil’s spine hitting Plath’s jacket. It’s a reminder of the diversity of texts that I read. Poetry and prose; fiction and non-fiction; works of antiquity as well as contemporary releases; young adult and self-help and academic tomes; books that are silly or spooky or sad; by authors of every color and gender and age, from many different places and paths. I consume it all, and there is no method to my madness; my bookshelves reflect that.
Other houseguests gently tease me about the rise of ebooks and extol the virtues of having a Kindle. Amused, I reply with some declaration of my undying love for print and adamant refusal to adapt despite knowing that we live in a digital age. I love having “real” books and I can’t imagine living otherwise. I suppose in some small way, I like to feel that those of us who keep buying books are engaging in a tiny act of resistance.
Looking at my bookshelves also makes me realize that I need to make more time to read these days. There was once a time when I had read every book I own, but then life got busier and there was less room for voracity. It didn’t help that I moved to a city with an amazing indie and used bookstore scene (one of which has live-in cats…cats, y’all) and started spending significant portions of my paycheck at these establishments, buying books faster than I could finish then. So now, I can say that I’ve read most of the books on my shelves, but not all of them. But that’s something I intend to remedy–and I’ve put myself on book-purchasing hiatus until I accomplish that. The book buying diet is definitely not permanent though; there is no such thing as too many books.
One of the items on my to-do list for the near future is making a list and/or taking pictures (to be kept in a digital cloud) of all the books I own in case anything ever happened to them (fire, flood, etc.), so that I’d be able to replace every title; they mean a lot to me and I can’t imagine ever losing them.
Danielle Hayden is a freelance writer and editor who grew up in Detroit and now lives in Seattle. Included among all the things she loves are: learning, books, watching films, making lists, and collecting great quotes–sometimes as tattoos. She reads about everything, and writes about almost as much. Danielle is an enthusiastic supporter of the arts and of the Oxford comma.
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