Now before I lose my nerve (and put it off for some more perfect time), here are my bookshelves! This is my favourite shelf (my dad made it) and as it sits near the tv, I look at it from the couch quite often. So all my favourite books (and movies) that I most like to look at go here, naturally! I’ve tried various schemes of organizing by time period, country, and small press, but right now I’m just going with alphabetical. And there also is our cat, Edgar (since Edgar Allan Poe has written a short story called The Black Cat), who wanted to pose in all his nearly invisible majesty for you.
And here’s my second shelf, that I can look at from the computer desk, with my mostly more serious books, the ones I do want to read, but get overwhelmed looking at all the time! I’ve also got a few tea cups, nostalgic Nancy Drews, small poetry books and reading guide/list books up there, plus my catch-all for wandering papers, packets of flower seeds that have never been planted and bookmarks.
The rest of my books are somewhat haphazardly organized in our front hall closet (pictures below) and a few may already be packed away. I’ve spent a fair bit of time this year trying to thin out my books somewhat, to get rid of those I thought I ‘should’ read and only keep what I actually treasure and truly want to read. (Well, I’m still debating if I actually want to read Balzac and Henry James, but I can’t quite bring myself to get rid of them yet either! They’re classics I keep saying to myself, you’ll want them someday. That logic didn’t work for D.H. Lawrence though… I guess there are more reasons than that they are simply classics: Balzac is part of my 19th century French collection, along with Zola, Flaubert, Stendhal and sort of Proust, and annoyed as I might get with their pessimism, I still want to read them all someday. And I had an English professor who read out the first few sentences of The Golden Bowl, to compare Henry James’s style with Hemingway’s and James won for me by a long shot. And I’ve been trying to finish that book ever since!)
And here are the rest of the front hall closet books, mysteries, history books, writing guides, memoirs, extra copies of some of the classics that I’m planning to pass on to my mom, poetry, anthologies, some kids books, and so on and so forth. This space used to be double packed and stacked with many more books, before I took so many to used bookstores and got a few in exchange that I liked better. I would love to own more books (but only ones I really like, not just books for the sake of books), but the ones I really want to collect, like Persephones and Viragos, are expensive to order and/or not widely available in Canadian bookshops. And since I do work in a library, I’m always saying it’s cheaper just to get it at the library. (sigh) Somehow I have this reasoning that it’s better to invest in a classic book than one I might read once in passing, be momentarily entertained by, but then have no interest in rereading or even in thinking very deeply about. I have trouble collecting fun books sometimes (or even in finding many books I consider fun!)
In contrast, my husband has a much larger collection of books than I do (here’s his reading nook, which usually has a comfy chair too) because he’s been working in bookstores and getting that wonderful deadly 30% off books for longer than I did and he’s not as picky about what he buys either, he makes endless lists of authors to try and if he likes them, he’ll collect all their books. Our tastes overlap mostly in mystery, we’ve both read and enjoyed Patricia Highsmith, Raymond Chandler, Elmore Leonard, and Sherlock Holmes, but also in a bit of sci-fi, as I share his interest in William Gibson, and also old fashioned spooky horror writers H.P. Lovecraft and Edgar Allan Poe. He’s also stolen my copies of Madame Bovary, Lolita and Lady Chatterley’s Lover so there’s some bookish cross-pollination going on here! We’ve tried putting our books all together in the past (after reading, book blogging and book shopping, reorganizing books is a favourite hobby of mine), but we each prefer our own separate styles of organization and to look at a nice comforting shelf of books that’s all our own.
On the actual reading of books front, a nice stack of Virago books came in for me at the library, so I’ve put Trollope aside and am already halfway through A Wreath of Roses by Elizabeth Taylor. How nice a short book is sometimes for my very easily distracted mind!