In December, 2007 and again in April, 2009 I did some guest blogging at ForeWord Magazine's ShelfSpace Blog. While ForeWord Magazine is going strong, they have discontinued doing that guest blogging. So, I am going to rerun those posts here at Tea Cozy. Any edits to remove confusion about things like dates is in brackets.
My Own Private Library
I recently moved.
If you're a book lover and owner, you understand my pain.
Compiling your own private library isn't easy. There are the naysayers: Why do you want a book you've already read? Why not use the library? Why clutter your house? Do you know how much money you'd save if you didn't spend it on books?
So why have all these books? And frankly: I've lost count of the number. To me, it comes down to two questions. Why do I want to buy this particular book? And then, why do I want to keep this book? Because there are some books I buy and pass along; one read is enough. What makes a book a "keeper"?
For me, I keep the books that are like family. I'm emotionally connected to the book or to the author; sometimes, even to the person I was when I first read the book. So I have newer series like Harry Potter, that brought me to librarianship and back to reading fantasy, and the Keeping Days series by Norma Johnston, my favorite coming of age story ever.
Especially now that I am a librarian, I realize the folly of viewing the library as a warehouse of books that will always have the title I need to read. Library books go missing and get stolen; fall apart; or get weeded if they are no longer in fashion. If there is a person or place or story I know I'll want to revisit, either to be challenged or comforted, I need to own it. So my collection of books includes everything from poetry to children's literature, from Irish history to Buffy the Vampire Slayer.
Right now, those books are in boxes, waiting to discover their new home. I did begin unpacking, but only succeeded in creating piles of books as I fretted about what to do with them. A new house, bookshelves in different areas, and I'm paralyzed, trying to decide where to put them and how to organize them.
The only easy bookshelf is the one in the kitchen: all cookbooks, from medieval cooking to holiday cookies, along with back issues of cooking magazines.
But beyond that, I'm stumped. I like the photos of like colors together, all the blue books, the white books, the red books. But that would mean breaking up authors, and all the Ellen Emerson White (and Zack Emerson) books must stay together.
I also like to group books; not just all books by Sylvia Plath, but also all books about her, including works of fiction, not to mention books by and about Ted Hughes.
Hardcovers and paperbacks cannot be on the same shelf. And oversized books have their own area. See how complicated it gets?
Believe it or not, I've never shelved by Dewey. Maybe that is the answer?
So, what about you? I'd love to hear other peoples criteria for what makes a book a "keeper" and how you keep those books organized.
Originally posted in December 2007 at ForeWord Magazine's ShelfSpace Blog.
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© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy
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