Saturday, July 01, 2006

A Biblioholic's Dilemma

Today it was my turn to tidy up and vacuum (we alternate chores each week), so I also decided to dust and shelve paperbacks I've finished reading. I do this every couple of months when I have a bunch of them. The problem is I'm running out of space for them.

I've heard of some strange (to me) decorating rules for using bookshelves: use one-third of the shelves for books, another third for knickknacks, and leave the rest bare. Another home decorator I've read about puts books every which way--horizontally, vertically, even diagonally--as if they're nothing more than colored pieces of cardboard with no other purpose in life than to look good. Er...don't these people know you can't judge a book by its cover? It's what's inside that counts. If someone tried to reorganize my books like this, I'd throw a fit. Although my books are subject to tough love--their spines are cracked, their pages are dog-eared--I still treasure them. Granted, I do cull them from time to time, but since books can go out of print so quickly, I'd rather hold onto them if I like them. Used books don't have much of a resale value anyway. I've always wanted to have a library of my own, and the seven bookshelves in the living room/dining room are a decent start.

Although I own hundreds of paperbacks, I've managed to squeeze them onto about two bookshelves, stacked in double layers. I can fit about 70 books on a shelf, although sometimes it's a tough fit. Most of them are science fiction/fantasy, organized alphabetically by author and chronologically by book/series. So to shelve a few books, I have to start at the beginning, slip them into the right spot, and then shift the piles as needed. Sometimes I make or remove space, depending on how thick the books are. As I sorted my books today, I noticed a few "orphanated" ones--first books in a series that I never completed for some reason or another. I took a few of them out to resell but left other in my collection just in case I ever find the next book in the series. I managed to balance out the new books with ones I wanted to get rid of, so my shelf space is safe--for now.

I didn't even attempt to shelve the new trade paperbacks/hardcovers. The larger books take up the rest of my bookshelves, and those are packed so fully the only way I can add more book would be to get rid of back issues of The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. I no longer subscribe--the stories generally don't interest me--but I'm still loath to get rid of them.

The scary part is that most of Eugene's book collection isn't here. He reads a lot of nonfiction, so his bookshelves are pretty full too.

I think the best solution for our problem will be for us to move into a library. Know of any in the Chicago suburbs with a kitchen and shower?

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