Sunday, May 20, 2007

Q4 - the book habit and how to deal with it

Do you have any tips for other book hoarders? How can we save money on shelving space, find our way through piles of books all over the bedroom floor and deal with our increasing myopia? Do you organise your books alphabetically or by subject, or do they end up shelved haphazardly like mine?

I wish I had a good answer to this one, I really do. But I’m already too far into the book addiction to acknowledge the sensible answer of culling them. Maybe we all need some kind of support group.

An ex-boyfriend once told me that I was half girl, half book. I took that as a compliment but apparently he meant it as an insult. We didn’t last long after that.

Fast forward an untold number of years and I’ve found someone else whose DNA also has a good deal of paper in it and we’ve never looked back.

Unfortunately, this has led to a leetle storage problem, which is about to get worse. As I’ve already said, I’m in Edinburgh. This means I have all the books from university onwards (where I studied literature) and several hundred cookbooks. Mr. B has some of his books here too from the time we actually managed to live in the same country for more than five minutes. But he also has a lot of books stashed away at his parents’ house, just waiting to take the 30-minute trip up the road to our new place.

What this means for my current situation is double-stacked shelves, the Edinburgh press is full of my cookbooks, plus the shelves in the hallway and there are innumerable tottering stacks all over the place, as well as the boxes under the bed. There are even cookbooks on the bed at the moment, where Mr. B would normally sleep if he was here or if I was there. A psychologist would have a field day.

Neither of us can throw/give any away because of that nagging fear that you just might need/want it again.

The good news is that we’re moving from a flat to a house. What we think we’re going to do is shelve the back wall of the kitchen/dining room from top to bottom, squeeze in as many books as we can. Consider it an extra layer of insulation for the house.

But I’m not sure that the best answer to the book/space problem is to move house every time your book collection gets out of hand. Back to Terry Pratchett again - someone else who I suspect has a book habit, although I can’t prove it. But who else would have invented L-space? We need some brainy scientists to prove that L-space really exists and then we can buy/store as many books. Until then, we may need to start mapping the stacks in this dimension and leave instructions for loved ones to come and find us if we’re not back by nightfall.

Nothing is ever, ever in alphabetical order. That would be scary – and would give me flashbacks to that ex-boyfriend again. He used to lovingly alphabetise all his CDs. It was never really going to work out, was it?