Shelf Life

We are undergoing a momentous shift in this home.
We are taking steps toward true couple-dom as yet to be attempted under this roof.

We are combining our books.

Yes, after two years of marital cohabitation—during which time our numerous tomes have maintained separate living quarters, individual organization, and distinct-to-the-owner display methods—the husband and I are blending our books.

(This might only be rivaled in momentous-nous by a combining of clothing in the closet. But who’s that insane?)

The reason? Our former office is becoming a nursery, and the living room will now be double duty to the office. So, some major reorganization of furniture is required… most notably, many shelves full of many books being transferred into the main living/entertaining area of the apartment. Putting “work books” like references by the office area makes sense, so it also makes sense to finally integrate our other libraries as well…fiction, non-fiction, essays, and “miscellaneous.”

I know it may not seem like a big step in our relationship. The very organization of these books still calls for a nominal separation, simply based off of our personal interests. I have 1 book amidst the dozens of political texts. The husband has contributed 3 or 4 books to my two shelves of poetry.

But still. Even if our respective obsessions are sometimes separated by a shelf, it’s just a shelf. We don’t have “His-and-Hers” bookcases in separate rooms anymore. Now they are in the same piece of furniture.We will both go to the same place to find something to read.

It makes a difference. I like it.

We’ve tried not to be ridiculously excessive about our book-keeping habits…. but you just can’t fight it. We are an actor and a writer, the children of major readers of all things, college grads who treasure the tangible “proof” of our degrees and learning.

We are not the type to use bookshelves as decorating elements. While I do have a very bad habit of just setting little pieces of things and teensy tchotchkes all over them (I am desperately trying to avoid that habit this time around), we are not the type to color coordinate a stack of yellow books next to a lovely vase and some photos.

We like to read. We like books. Our bookshelves are put to work.

And as if combining our books weren’t a significant enough milestone for this couple, I am now working my way through the task of classifying these books and figuring out a good shelving system.

Here’s the current grouping… we’ll see how long it lasts.

*Bibles, hymn books, theological, and “miscellaneous spiritual”
(Luther’s Small Catechism, Kirkegaard, and The Tao of Poo)

*Fiction, by Author
(Woody Allen & Austen through Whitman & Zelazny.)
This is the hardest yet to decide… by author makes the most sense at present. We’ll see.

*Non-Fiction, by genre/subject matter
We have biographies, essays, travel books, and HUGE amounts of philosophical, political, and historical texts from the husband’s formerly-personal shelves.

*Oversize Coffee-Table Books
Miss Piggy’s Guide to Life, Renoir, Degas, Laurel & Hardy (in French), painted faery books, etc

*Theatre Books (this is an entire piece of furniture on it’s own)
Plays by author (with a special shelf of multiple Shakespeare editions), acting method, direction, stage-craft, costuming, critique

*Poetry

*Writing and general reference books
(dictionaries, thesaurus, style guides, writer’s markets, poetry forms, and the husband’s random Family Legal Guide)

*French fiction, reference, and grammar
(small space granted to Italian and German references)

Still remaining to be shelved: The husband’s gaming books, music librettos/scores, STACKS of loose sheet music, and —short term— the growing pile of baby literature.

And yes, we are sorting and —carefully! respectfully!— setting aside books we can bear to part with as we go. In an act of concession (and reality) I have off-loaded about 1/3 of my college French texts. While I will re-visit Rimbaud and Baudelaire’s poesie, I’m getting rusty on my French phraseology! I’m finally able to admit it unlikely that I’ll revisit Stendahl and Zola’s masterpieces in their full French version.

That brings the book storage up to: 4 large bookshelves in the living room/office space area, 1 in the new nursery for clothes and kids books, and 1 in the bedroom for overflow… or to hide my terrible romance novels.

…and, if we’re still struggling for book-housing, we have one more small shelf in the wings, just waiting to be assembled to welcome new tenants.

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2 thoughts on “Shelf Life

  1. I hate to say this Emilie, but don’t forget the at least 3 shelves of books that Matthew still has here in his room in Hawaii. Someday some of these treasures will have to make their way back to the mainland or we’ll need to receive instructions as to which ones we can find new homes for. Have a great day!

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