Saturday, May 28, 2011

Literary pursuits

My husband has promised, now that he is at home, to thin out his books so we can avoid having shelves collapse at 3am. He thinks maybe he can even get all the books we have onto shelves, which would free up other flat surfaces (tables, floors, dressers) for non-literary purposes.

Admittedly, he is not the only contributor to the book-a-rama atmosphere around here.We have seven avid readers, several of whom whiz through more than a book a day, and none of whom have fine-tuned the art of habitually re-shelving books. It's a problem.

But I knew our home decor would emphasize Amazon over Martha Stewart well before I got married. When Andrew and I were dating I invited him to my apartment one evening to test whether he and I could read in the same room without talking. It was a turning point in our relationship. When the boxes (and boxes and boxes) containing Andrew's books arrived at our home-to-be shortly before we were married he said, sweetly, "Think of it as joining the Book-of-the-Month Club for life, in a single installment."

But there were further installments. We currently own about 6,000 books for grown-ups, and another 1,500 for children. If you wonder how one fits that many books in a city apartment, the answer is floor to ceiling, wall to wall, and two deep. Even our coffee table has shelves in it.

For several years we had a to-be-the-boys' room that we used as an office. I dubbed it The Room of Heresy and Error, because it housed books on Andrew's more esoteric interests. My husband is a secret escapee from a British novel; his interests are eclectic, if not eccentric. He is well-read in philosophy, theology, poetry, and world religions, but also has a longstanding interest in hollow-earth theory, alien abductions, bizarre religions, and 1940's horror movies. He can talk as easily about Madame Blavatsky as about Fichte, and can go on about the Lubavitcher Rebbe as happily as he recites T.S. Eliot. It makes for interesting conversation, but heavy bookshelves.

Five years ago I spent a dreadful summer converting the Room of Heresy and Error into a bedroom for our male offspring. All the books (other than the ones I categorically refused to live with, like the Mormon tome Isn't One Wife Enough?) ended up in our bedroom. Some apparently wound their way to Andrew's office at work, where he stuffed them behind more professional material.

This week in the midst of the shelving clean-out, which has left stacks and stacks of books on the living room floor (awaiting transport to the Strand, or listing on eBay, or strength to figure out what to do with them) the remnants of Andrew's office arrived. I will not mention exactly how many boxes blocked our vestibule, because I lost count as I moved them to block access to Andrew's side of our bedroom.

Since then my dh has packed up four cartons worth of books to sell (yes, I do know he hid them behind the loveseat), and promised to remove the rest in the coming week. I love my husband. I love having a home filled with books. And I will love the day when I can find my spouse without feeling the search is a literary pursuit.

P.S. This post brought to you mercifully without pictures, since the kids still have 98 chores to go!


  1. A post written in a spirit of marital and literary love, if there ever was one! Oh, how tempted I am to come buy some books! But alas, a move impends.

  2. Can relate to you and the books. My husband and I are pretty much the same and we have bookcases full and books on the floor, coffee table, etc. What a joy to be able to have books but I no longer buy them and try to get ones from the library to read. But I have tons here that I own that I still need to read.

  3. We don't buy much any more, either, though books are my one budget weakness. Cookies and magazines by the checkout line in the supermarket hold not the slightest temptation for me. But leave me alone in a bookstore, and it's tough.

  4. I was going to suggest that you come to visit, all of you carrying books, to donate to my library's book sale, which is soonish, but it seems impractical in the transportation...

  5. Oh, and you can sell books on Amazon - a little easier (in my opinion) than eBay. Esoteric books do well, I've found.

  6. Book addiction is a serious problem in my house too. I sympathize.


  7. I'm trying to convince my husband that ebooks are a great alternative in our small space. He is not a convert yet, since much of a book's allure for him is tactile.