Actually, the title should be “Decorating around Books.” I am passionate about most things in life, and books are pretty close to the top of that list. I own books that have shaped me as a human being and books that I’ve been meaning to read for awhile. Books that I love but haven’t touched in years have a home. I also buy books that I have no intention of reading, but I can’t bear the thought of Audrey’s 1925 Christmas presents languishing in a thrift store. Someone needs to love them and prop them up. That person is me, keeper of the stray books.
I dashed around my apartment snapping photos of the shelves that are taking over my 525 square feet. The bedroom is for poetry, Shakespeare, and french literature. Oh, and Betsy and Tacy and Anne of Green Gables live permanently on my nightstand.
The kitchen houses the cookbooks. I think I’ve written about this before. The appliances got kicked off the red shelf to make room for the books. The only two I use regularly are Smitten Kitchen and America’s Test Kitchen. But it’s important to have A Little Dinner before the Play close at hand. I enjoy reading cookbooks while I dine. And I really like reading vintage cookbooks because the food sounds so much better and less…artisanal.
The desk is really just two book shelves with an Ikea slab on top. These house the essays and Agatha Christies.
Then of course there’s the bookcase that my Grandpa Berg built. This one is mostly for the Victorians. I like to think that they’re happiest together. Although, I’m not sure if Dickens got along all that well with his contemporaries. If I worked at Pixar (someday…), I’d write a screenplay about books coming to life. Just like Toy Story. But Book Story.
And now…my greatest pride and joy. My ikea bookcases. That now take up what feels like half the room, and alas, will probably not provide enough space for my growing herd/flock/horde. Jane Austen (and Jane Austen ephemera) takes up about half a shelf. Honestly, organizing these was stressful. Nothing fell into clear categories. I have a ton of literary criticism, but I also have a lot of Malcolm Gladwell and Adam Gopnik who don’t really fit into that genre. They don’t go together. And what about my biographies of Victorian feminists? Must Kurt Wallander share a shelf with Miss Buncle? Yes, they must, and so far they’ve both behaved admirably.
But in all seriousness, it’s almost getting to the point where a serious system is needed. There are too many books now for me to easily locate the one I need. I get side-tracked and end up rereading portions of Antonia Fraser’s Marie Antoinette biography when I meant to grab N.T. Wright. But the alternative is…not having books? Or doing this abominable thing…
Or this, which is maybe a bit better…
I know I could just get rid of most of these and replace them digitally. But…if you’re the kind of person who buys old books based solely on the inscriptions, chances are the kindle is never going to cut it. Someday these books will bury me alive, but until that day I will keep adding to their number one by one (just picked up W. Somerset Maugham’s intellectual autobiography that’s been out of print for years).