sand, stain, and varnish, part II

Pretty simple, really: shelves make me purr, Edmund hide, Tenzing deathly curious, and Jeff wish he could sit on the couch and do something else for a while.

Funny to think that I've been waiting three years to get all this figured out, when it seems so obvious now. Shelves, shelves, everywhere. Then, toss in enough furniture to make the room respectable, plus a few tables and some nice lighting, and suddenly you've got a room that isn't ignored, but enjoyed.

After all these months of planning, you'd think that I'd immediately know what books were meant to go on each shelf; not so. I stood there, facing the empty shelves (vertical view, horizontal view) with a feeling of utter panic.

What should move first, given that my two immediately-pending road trips mean that I won't be able to get another batch of three ready for at least another week, possibly two?

I ended up hauling out the pile of yearbooks—elementary school, high school, and collegiate—and placing those on the top shelf. Not as if I spend my days looking through those, anyway; I knew those needed to go on the top shelf. Bottom shelf for games, yep—the boxes for Risk, Settlers, Trivial Pursuit, and other gamy bits landed on the easy-access bottom shelf. But that pesky middle shelf confounded me.

You know you live in an age of irony when decisions about the contents of a shelf perplex you to your limits.

In the end, I opted for maximum number of books moved: multilingual dictionaries (you know your reading habits are arcane when you own Spanish, French, and German dictionaries by your sixteenth birthday and have actually used them), references (house, woodworking, languages, cat care, etc.), religious tracts, and travel books all ended up on the middle shelf.

The end result looks like this for now.

Some people organize strictly by alphabetical order, type of book, or book size. I follow rough rules of content, but with an evil bit of whimsy added in. I like to think of books as containing personalities, comprised of the author and the subject. I like putting my Qur'anic translation next to Jeff's Bibles and my Zen Buddhist texts.

I like the idea of leaving them next to each other. That way, they have to learn to live with each other.

Unfortunately, it looks like my hobbies are coming back to haunt me—I'm guessing that I'm going to need two or three books for literature and lit crit (sigh)—where did I get all these books? Why am I so fascinated with arcane poetry? How in the world did I manage to hang on to so many of my collegiate books? (They seem to be the only things that, during my many, many shifts in collegiate living space, I did not lose. Like bad pennies, perhaps.)

I've moved my cookbooks to the kitchen, in the hopes that they'll stop breeding; I swear, every time I come into the living room, there are a couple of new baby cookbooks running around, begging to be read and cooked from. I'll keep my back issues of Cook's Illustrated and Fine Cooking in the reading room, away from the temptations of those cookbooks. Keep them separated, and maybe they'll stop reproducing.

Sci-fi and fantasy books have their own room. See also that "keeping them from reproducing" bit, above.

A small section for books and pamphlets about yarn craft (knitting and crochet) should comprise the rest of the reading-room collection. For now, I'll fill the rest of the shelves with the detritus that always seems to collect in rooms like this: pads of paper, pens for scribbling, lost and wayward photos, random bits of cat fur, collected yarn for the next big project. Eventually I'll need to change the bulbs in the overhead light to something a little more forgiving and flattering (read: not so damn bright, you're hurting my eyes here!) and then I think we can call this project well and safely started.

For the first time in my life, I find myself contemplating the prospect of bookends. Bookends, of course, imply that one has more shelves than books, and therefore can take the luxury of arranging the books in a way that has more to do with aesthetic pleasure than simply attempting to get all the damn things out of the boxes for a change.

As I recall, I came into this marriage with somewhere around ten boxes of books. I don't remember how many boxes of books we moved into this house when we bought it three years ago; I shudder to think how many boxes it would take to pack them all up now if we had to move again. Since moving here, my purchases of shelving have only barely managed to keep up with the reproduction rate of my books (think rabbits); this work on the reading room is an attempt to go beyond stopgap solutions to one that should solve the problem for a good many years.

All in all, I suspect my guests will like knowing that their presence no longer prevents me from having access to my [previous] favorite reading spot: the sunny spot on the bed in the guest bedroom. So, Stephen and Misty—come on back this month and do your worst; the guest bedroom's all yours now.


I remember that "room" as being much smaller. Maybe it's because I never spent any time in it -- it was like a instant portal from the living room to the kitchen. :)

Well, yeah. It feels a lot bigger now that most of the boxes are gone, and it'll feel a bit more spacious once the old bookcases are moved to the master bedroom. Can't remember if I mentioned this, but previously, there was a door between the reading room in the kitchen. We've taken it off the hinges; we always left the door wide open, and the door always blocked off a corner of the room. It's not a big room. I'm just working on bits to maximize the space I've got.

Sweet! My bed is ready! How long did you say we could stay?

Puurrrrdy!!! I dream of our new living room being something similar to this...we'll have the "family room" for electronic entertainment and the "living room" for me to really dig into...and for Brian to wander into when the power's out, LOL!

Suzan - you said something like that to me a couple of weeks ago and I have to admit, I've rather taken it to heart. I hadn't thought of the reading room in that fashion before you mentioned it, but that's really what I'm attempting to do. I'm trying to keep all the electronic toys and gadgets in the main living room. For this room, I'll try to avoid putting in anything that needs a plug, unless it's a lamp or a fountain. Note to self: more fountains in house. Love fountains. CATS love fountains. Must...acquire.