Sunday, 17 August 2014


Today I am sad because I miss my beautiful books and my lovely bookshelves. Kariebookish, on twitter, posted a link* to an article on "styling" one's bookshelves, the gist of which was sparing use of books as decoration and significant use of negative space. I hardly know what to make of this. I've been an avid reader of books my whole life and worked in a bookstore for just over five years. I'm from the school of thought that bookcases should be stuffed, absolutely stuffed with (organized) books. And that they're beautiful.

I had a modular set of bookcases which were enough for two walls in most rooms I rented. I had enough books to fill them, paperbacks stacked and hardcovers standing proud between them. In the space in front of the books I had picture frames holding pictures of my friends, usually group shots, from some of the happiest times in my life, and knick-nacks and candles, mostly tea lights, in a range of holders. The shelves themselves were beautiful, a light pine, and for the cross beams I splurged on the wine-racks for the front, turned upside-down so they were scalloped. They were the envy of ikea interiorists everywhere.

And I left them, almost all of them, when it left. Jackie got the shelves along with my pretty much all of my household stuff (including my modal sheets. Man. Modal sheets.) and most of the books were sold to half priced books along with the DVDs for so little. They didn't want the hardcovers, you see, they don't much shift hardcovers. But I was leaving and I didn't have time or money and I couldn't take it with me, except it turns out I could have taken about six times what I did for the same price but by the time I knew that it was all gone.

I kept my autographed hardcover Pratchetts and my mother got my hardcover Harry Potters (the first two were technically hers) and the rest...I'm replacing things as I reread them and buying new ones in ebook form and I love everything about ebooks, about taking 600 titles with me on holiday, about reading on my phone or tablet or e-reader, whatever is most convenient at e moment, about backlighting and buying and reading a the next book in a series seconds after finishing the previous one, even at 3am, and having books magically show up for being pre-ordered. I especially, and this was the clincher for me who moved something like 9 times in four years, culminating in moving across a continent and an ocean, I especially love not having to box them up and carry them somewhere new.

But I miss looking at them. I miss my bookshelves, yes, my lovely bookshelves, but mostly I miss my beautiful books and how, together, they were a portrait of me.  

* I'm on my iPad, there is will be no fancy formatting like hyperlinks.


  1. This one?

    I can't believe that people like that actually read for enjoyment. I look at those examples and see what I would assume to be books chosen for design value or for social/intellectual capital.

    My bookcases are for books. If art fits, it's usually because I haven't bought enough books to fill the bookcases yet. :)

    I love hard-copy books, but I find it terribly difficult to read them currently. L makes leaving books accessible unsafe for the books and turning pages distracts her while nursing so I spend far more time on my ipad than anything else. I like ebooks for all the reasons you listed, but I now usually have no idea what I'm currently reading because I've never seen the title and have no idea what the cover art is. This makes it far more difficult for me to remember if I've read a book before which was less of an issue previously (except for re-releases).

    My current dislike with ebooks is the lack of an easily organized cataloging system which allows me to combine my ebooks and hard-copy books in one place with online access. Calibre works well for sorting, organizing, and removing DRM for my personal use, but unless something new came out in a newer release, it's restricted to my harddrive which isn't terribly useful when trying to buy a book at the bookstore. It shouldn't be difficult to find something that can easily import ebook lists as well as have the ability to scan barcodes on hard-copy books, but in my searches so far such a program appears to be a unicorn.

    1. All that said though, I'm sorry you're sad. :( I remember your bookcases with everything on them and they were quite lovely.

    2. Bah, stupid thing ate my comment. Blah blah, better now, blah blah where do you get your ebooks, blah blah LibraryThing 10 years ago, blah blah blah.

    3. Holy late response batman! Someday I'll remember to get notified on responses. :)

      I typically get my ebooks from amazon. There are a few I've gotten from smashwords (the author specifically said they get paid more & faster through them compared to amazon, so why not) and a few I've gotten directly from the authors. I used to think I'd price shop the various ebook sellers to buy wherever was cheapest since I can convert them to the appropriate format, but I have yet to do it either because I'm lazy or because amazon was cheapest. :)

      I've got LibraryThing on my radar; I think they send me emails occasionally, but I've yet to actually do something with it. I feel far more accomplished canning something than dealing with personal databases, so I spend my limited time doing that or trying to keep up on reading my one magazine subscription. I keep telling myself that someday I'll have more time to do things I like again, but I suspect that it's about 16 years away. ;)