Last week I started something I’ve been meaning to do for a while. I’d packed my manuscript off to the beta-readers, and this was my treat. I started to rearrange our books. And I’m still going, putting in an hour here and there.
Our books have been in no particular order for over ten years. I used to have them arranged by type and then in alphabetical order; novels, short stories, poetry, plays, non-fiction. Then we moved, and the books ended up all anyhow, and they were double-racked because we didn’t really have room for them. Things improved when we moved again, in that we had more space and the double-racking could stop. Until we bought more books, that is. It got to the point where finding a book could take 20 minutes. In fact the quickest way was to wait until you were really looking for another book, when you might stumble across the one you wanted two days ago.
So last week we got more shelves from IKEA, for the sitting-room, and I began with A, B and C (novels). The boys demanded a shelf for their own books, of course – can you spot it?
The first three letters took ages. There were so many books which needed to be moved to get at the shelves, and I sneezed a lot. At the same time, though, it was satisfying and rather therapeutic to find books I hadn’t seen for a long time, put them in order, and install them in their new home.
I’m now up to V (still novels), and here are some of the things that have struck me along the way:
- I’ve found very few duplicates, so even though we couldn’t see half the books, somehow we still had a stock-list in our heads.
- I’ve been surprised by just how many books we have by some authors, and how few by others. Who bought all those Dan Brown books, for instance?
- I’ve been amused by some of the juxtapositions, wondering how the authors, or the characters from their books would get along if they met. Katniss Everdeen (The Hunger Games) and Marian Halcombe (The Woman in White), perhaps? Or what would Neil Gaiman, John Galsworthy, Alex Garland and Elizabeth Gaskell talk about at a dinner party?
Most importantly, though, I’ve found several old and slightly battered friends, discovered books I’d forgotten we even owned, and been tempted to sit down and dip into many. And this morning, when my husband was looking for a new book to read, he could scan the shelf and find something without having to excavate it from piles of books and papers.
I just hope that we don’t run out of shelf space too quickly! And there’s one more question – where will the reading pile live?