Sunday, 9 December 2012

Arranging a Library

For us, any new bit of shelving is like a safety valve on a reactor that's about to blow. Now Scott has finally finished his work, the last last bits of shelving slipped, thumped and downright bashed in to place yesterday after far too long, I stand delighted, but of course now I have to shuffle around the books.
You might not think people contrive their bookshelves but I think they do. There are questions of size, questions of theme, those of location and those of value. It can get mighty ponderous if you let it. Not surprisingly, in the midst of the architectural fit called deconstruction, an old student of mine arranged all his kitchen shelving according to the dates of the Napoleonic wars (stupid).
So I find myself moving books up and down and around. For instance, if I put Chuck Palahniuk and Michael Houellebecq (as sets, not complete but at least of the same size) next to each other on the new shelf above the front door, will we look like a couple of sex obsessed nihilistic psychopaths to any casual visitor? Just putting those two next to each other, while they fit perfectly, is bad enough. However, since they are both classed, in my terms, as not quite good enough for the real indoors, that's really where they belong.
The real indoors is the stuff people will stare at if they are sat on the sofa, and that seems to be art books and, more lamely, rock books. The fact that Davis's Hammer of the Gods and Motley Crue's (hardback! slipbound!) copy of The Dirt sit right at elbow is disturbing, but I do refer to them more than to most books, so that's where the rock books will stay. Meanwhile accommodating the art book collection has been one of Scott's preoccupations for what seems like years.
Upstairs, I couldn't fling all the Ian Fleming sixties Pan's, presently next to our bedroom, or the John Le Carre's in to the front lobby even though it was especially designed for them. This was a dismal moment for the architect, having to think better of himself, but I'll happily ship all the Ed McBain down there, even though in many ways he's a better writer. And meanwhile, how come all the black spined serious books, the Homers and the Hazlit's find themselves in the bedroom? That is definitely an error, as probably is worrying about all this in the first place- except that I did once live in the house of a Cambridge academic where books were everywhere and there was no order at all, and it was hell, and I slept in the library.

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