Fraternity and bookshelves

Last week I built bookshelves. Not really nice ones, but decent enough for a desperation job and the wall of the bedroom:


They’re more impressive in person, eight and a half feet long across most of one wall, holding all our fiction. That’s 25.5 linear feet, for those of you counting at home, in addition to the 85.5 linear feet we already had (not counting what’s in the Monkey’s room). And it is not nearly enough. There are boxes still in the attic, boxes and boxes. Books waiting to be loved again or, in the case of many of my books from graduate school, to be loved at all. A collection of Bloom County comics. A textbook on quantum mechanics.

But it’s good to have all the fiction in one place, with room for more. Looking at them I feel rich, almost. Also amused, as I frequently am, by the ironies of alphabetical order: That Miranda July came just after Portrait of a Lady until Heidi Julavits intervened, though that’s entertaining enough. Ayn Rand and Ann Rice are practically neighbors; how would they get along? Not well, I imagine, though Lestat does go on a bit in his monologues. The Phantom Tollboth (Juster) next to The Last Temptation of Christ (Kazantzakis); is there a message there, for those who play with a twisted librarian’s version of numerology? Tom Sawyer pals with Man Gone Down (which you should read, if you haven’t), appropriate perhaps in a way, but what on earth is Evelyn Waugh doing with Cherry Ames, Boarding School Nurse? I shudder to think.

Posted in Observances | Tagged , | 2 Comments

2 Responses to Fraternity and bookshelves

  1. Wayne says:

    Think about this stuff too much and it becomes an obsession. In the past I’ve tended to group the fiction by some associative principle or theme, but it tends to go awry rather quickly. So, say, early John Barth shares some space with Camus and Sartre but then I’ve got to have some Henry Fielding nearby because later John Barth is all picaresque, and then, since we’re thinking picaresque, let’s get Saul Bellow’s Augie March in proximity, and of course all that Chicago milieu summons Stuart Dybek, and hello, since we’ve got some urban short stories here let’s get Joyce in, pronto!

    And so it is that only I can find the books that are in our library. Lately our new books go into a pile of “books I don’t even know where to put” stacked in front of the Protestant novelists.

    Your shelves look very functional, which is mainly what you want in a bookcase I think. And I’m jealous because you have more books than I do.

  2. michelle! says:

    i’m so damn dumb i just throw the books anywhere they fit (sometimes two rows deep! it’s like a scavenger hunt anytime i need a book to read on the can!) and think a piqaresque is french for someone who jabbles bulls in spain.

    well i’ve thought about it and i think that waugh and miss ames would be drinking sloe gin fizzes and wishing they were with somebody else.

    nice bookracks, at any rate. my bowed as hell shelving from IKEA is ashamed. very ashamed.

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