Books – And Where to Put Them

I’ve always had books – possessed books. Some I have yet to read but it is reassuring to know that I can read them. Other things get in the way. I know that’s a little odd but I’m sure I’m not the only one with this affliction. Now, I have a goodly share of books and when I go to the library I stop by the “free books” cart and often bring home one or two more. I went to the American Library Association (ALA) convention in Las Vegas a couple years ago and came home with sixty-five books….most being advance reader copies. Some of those became best sellers. By the way – I heartily recommend the ALA convention for anyone who likes books or is interested in the world of publishing.

About four years ago, when I was down-sizing and selling my house in the Midwest, I went through my book collection and disposed of several boxes of books and also several large bookcases. It was going to cost me a dollar per pound to move my stuff 1,000 miles to the desert so I was pretty ruthless in getting rid of some of my belongings. I was surprised that some books were too precious to dispose of even though I had read them years before and would not read them again. There was some sort of bond between me and these books. Who possessed who?

Now that I’m in a smaller space, storage is an important issue. I have five or six short bookcases – small, squatty and portable things dispersed in several rooms so that now I can’t find anything when I want it. I have a couple boxes of books in the garage that never found a place on a shelf. So here I am looking for a better solution.

I built myself an office – essentially converting part of an unused porch into a bright and cheery “Green Room” — and I spend most of my time there. The sliding glass door opens to the rear portal of my house and I frequently have Roadrunners or desert cottontails looking in. It has a brick floor, my vintage craftsman library desk, Windsor desk chair, a wicker reading chair and foot stool, and a functional (but unsatisfactory) short bookcase. You know the type – the folding bookcase that you buy at Target stores or at Wal-Mart. So, I’m looking for something bigger and permanent that fits into this somewhat eclectic, but small, office space.

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I’ve started noticing bookcases in other people’s homes. Are they organized in a certain way? Do they seem private or open to visitors? Are they displaying books or storing books? What else do they have besides books? How big are the bookcases and do they have more than one? A friend had a carpenter come in and install a wall of polished walnut bookcases in the living room – a built-in and permanent feature. She has all sorts of things on display, including books, art objects and a framed letter from Queen Elizabeth II. As a collector myself, I can imagine putting things out on display and I seldom take a walk without carrying something back home. But a display case is not really what I’m looking for in this instance.

As the family historian, I have five three-ring binders of family material. I’ve been bouncing around in genealogical circles long enough that people contact me about one thing or another and those binders are packed in a box in the garage and not readily available. I have outdoor and gardening books, field guides, fishing books, design and architecture books, art and photography books of every shape and size. People give me books as Christmas or birthday presents. Most of my current collection is history books and biographies – some over 100 years old. It’s not going to be easy making sense of this.

I went to look at Architectural Digest magazine…I usually have four or five lying around. That was pretty fruitless because I’m obviously not the AD type – or at least my little office isn’t. My crazy collection would not be very appealing to the eye. My next step is to go ransack a few antique stores to see what they might have.

Books are like friends in a way. You want them to be comfortable and have a permanent place in your home. I’ll let you know how this comes out – any suggestions are welcome.

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