May 31, 2018

New Bookcases

When we moved into our new house in December, we unpacked most boxes during the first few weeks, but one set lingered in the hallway, all labeled "Books". After considering numerous shelving options and then ignoring the problem for a while, we finally decided which bookcases to buy and where to put them. I spent part of the last week unboxing and arranging books, and I'm happy to have my collection available again (and those boxes gone).

The last time I did a major book reorganization was in 2010. I posted then about putting my collection in order and donating around 150 books. A couple of times since, when the shelves grew too crowded, I pulled out a bagful of books to donate to the library, but otherwise the book situation was pretty stable until the move.

I do the majority of my reading electronically these days, though I still read some print. I find both formats to have certain advantages over the other. (I have absolutely pressed my finger to a word on a printed page, expecting the definition to pop up.) My book buying is also more Kindle than print, so what's on my physical shelves only reflects a portion of what I've enjoyed since I started ereading (also in 2010). But the contents of my collection have never been a pristine snapshot of anything but what I happen to own, since I've always borrowed books from friends or the library, passed along books for the next reader to appreciate, and purchased books I never got around to reading.

I periodically tell myself I'm going to make a concerted effort to read some of the many books I own but haven't read. Now that my books are out of the boxes, on display right outside my office door, I will at the very least intend to make progress in that area. We'll see what happens.

Now how about a look at the new shelves?

The Ikea Hemnes bookcase is a step up from the unmatched, sagging particle board shelves we had before. They were pretty easy to assemble, and we got quite good at it by the third one. The three together fit beautifully into the empty space at the end of a hall, between two doorways.

new bookcases

The bookcase on the left is nonfiction, organized into very broad categories. I had some agonizing over where to place some of the books. The shelves are roughly: memoir, science, history and language, puzzles and humor, entertainment, and taller books from every subject. The other two cases are fiction, alphabetical by author, with anthologies, poetry, and plays at the end. Those bottom shelves hold picture books, comic strip collections, and graphic novels.

I did some culling as I unpacked, ending up with a boxful of books to take to the library. These aren't all the books in the house: I have a shelf of writing guides in my office, plus other reference materials that I need to finish organizing. I'm happy I was able to fit everything I hoped to put on the new bookcases, with enough space left for new books as they come into my life.

Good Stuff Out There:

→ Marlon Ettinger investigates the design choices involved in numbering pages: "Good numbering begins on the first page of text, which is not usually the first leaf (a piece of paper on which there are two pages front and back) of the book, which is why the first numbered page of a book will often not be '1' but something seemingly incongruous like '7.' For books that read left to right with folios on the verso, or back of the leaf, should always be even numbers, and those on the recto, or the right side of the leaf, should be be odd. A text always begins in earnest on a recto page." (Thanks, Book Riot!)


Christopher Gronlund said...

First off, noticed on the shelf: ZOT! Man, I forgot about that comic :)

Like you, I tend to go with electronic books more. Living in a one-bedroom apartment, it just makes sense. It's funny, though...growing up in a house with a bookcase (or two or three) in every room but the kitchen, I remember how friends and relatives would look at shelves and comment on books. And how, when we'd visit their places, the same thing.

(I discovered the International Jugglers' Association at a family friend's house. He had build a case for all his monthly magazine subscriptions like a wooden newsstand, and I went straight past Playboy to Juggler's World!)

I miss that aspect of books with e-books. Years ago, I gave most of my books to a good friend who owns more books than anyone I know. His house had shelves set up like a library. And one day...he and his wife were like, "Ya know...I love all these books, but...they've taken up so much room!" And he got rid of most of them and reads e-books almost exclusively now.

We've talked about how nice it is saving space, but how there's something lost in not having books out. Not even so much as a way of saying, "Look how well read I am!" but that camaraderie of book lovers.

Sadly, my friend said it best when I commented about how surprised I was that he got rid of so many books: "You're about the only one who wanders and looks at what was on the shelves anyway..."

Many friends now claim they are "too busy" to read. (But, at the same time, one friend who rarely read reads so much more now that he can have a library synced to all his devices and he can read on the go without carrying books around. I have to admit, I rather love that, too. And I love talking about books and being able to pull out my phone, find a note or highlighted section, and share it.)

Okay, I'm obviously babbling. I'm glad you have nice, new bookshelves that no longer struggle under the weight of all your books!

Lisa Eckstein said...

I didn't get a notification for your comment, so I only just noticed it. Thanks for babbling on this topic!

Yes, such a hard call between devoting space to books if they're only looked at occasionally, and having less stuff to deal with. I feel very lucky to have room, and the place we decided to put the shelves works out great in that we probably wouldn't have done anything else with it.

Several friends were over this weekend, and they perused the shelves and discussed some of the contents, so my bookshelves have already had a chance to serve their occasional purpose!

By the way, you can't tell from the photo, but there's a small collection of IJA magazines on the bottom left shelf. :)

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