Friday, January 17, 2014

Friday Reading Assignment: A Box for Books

I am engrossed in The Goldfinch and have no assignment for you, so let's take a break and talk about how we store our books, or, to be honest, my new bookcase.  When Ian moved to his own apartment, I gave him our living room bookcase.     I stacked all the books into piles against the living room wall, and there they sat, for over four months.

You would be surprised at how difficult it is to find a decent bookcase. I looked locally in second hand shops and antique shops. Oh, there were shelves, but they were too big or too small or too wobbly or too ugly or too smelly and often all of those things.  The guy at the Covesville Store told me to just make my own, as if it were the easiest thing in the world. I know enough about carpentry to realize that something deceptively simple like a big wooden rectangle is very easy to turn into a sort of mutant trapezoid if you don't know what you're doing.  Someday I'll tell you about the time Jon built wooden bunk beds for Ian and Seamus.

I looked online and for a while I was stalking a bookcase at a high end business that does custom made pieces.  It was a nice bookcase, but the price!  And it would take eight to ten weeks to arrive and the delivery fees were exorbitant.Still, I kept visiting the webpage and filling out the order form all the way to the point of checking out and then I'd close the browser.
The Nice Book Case

Then I found a nice-looking bookcase at a mid-level "decorators" website.  "Nice-looking" is the operative word, because it's made of horrible engineered wood and veneer, but it was half the price of the nice book case with free shipping.  As much as I preferred the high-end book case, I couldn't justify spending that much for what is essentially a box for books.  I consulted Jon and he voted for the cheaper bookcase.

Of course it needed to be assembled and I did the first several steps entirely on my own before Jon even got home from work, but really, it's a two person job, despite all the people who reviewed the product on line and claimed that even though they're 58 years old and are two weeks status post hip replacement they managed to put it together alone.

Jon and I have been married for more than twenty years and we have assembled a lot of cheap furniture.  We both now know to assume a grim name-rank-serial-number mode and just shut up and get the job done.  I broke rank once and said something truly cruel, but it all ended happily with margaritas at Continental Divide. And I got to spend Saturday happily filling the new bookcase. It's so much larger than the old one, that it fit all of the books from the old book case plus the random stacks around the house and the contents of a small bookcase in the upstairs hall.

It dresses up my very stark living room.

The new bookcase is mostly for Jon's books.  His taste in literature is very different from my own.

Here is the upstairs bookcase I'd like to get rid of.  We bought it second hand and the previous owners inexplicably carved huge holes through the back of it.  We bought it as a stop gap because it was cheap and always used it for books we didn't particularly want to read.  The way it's wedged into a corner, partially blocked by another bookcase is suboptimal, but this is the only place where it fits.  Even Ian doesn't want it.

The books stacked on the floor are earmarked for the library book sale

Do you have book storage issues?  You probably think it's crazy for a bibliophile like me to consolidate two bookcases into one, but I am just itching to put that carved-up piece of crap out at the curb.


  1. I definitely have book storage issues, despite having built-in bookcases in two different rooms plus all the bookshelves I have in every room. I have stacks of them everywhere. Even the stairs, between the balusters have become book storage units. Pat's convinced he's going to die in a crushing avalanche of books. I've even been known to lend large piles of cookbooks out in my efforts to make it look like I don't own as many books as I do. Getting a kindle cut down on the number of fiction books I have stacked up around the house, but I don't like e-versions of craft or cook books, which fill up the majority of my book storage strategies. My poor husband.

  2. I think that looks really nice in your living room. And I'm starting the Goldfinch next week--as soon as I finish The Round House.
    Lucky me--we built my Barbie Dream House with one whole wall of bookshelves. Can you imagine running out of room for books? Worse, can you imagine a house without shelves of books???

  3. Yes, I have book storage issues. I think it's inherent within the DNA of a Bermingham/Mahon.

  4. I have way to many books but I can't bear to part with them and it makes me sad to construct bookcases which leaves me with piles of books next to my bookcases.

  5. Shelves all full......I know have 2 piles of books ....growing....under my desk.....!!

  6. We have bookshelves in the bathrooms and in the laundry room cabinets. So--yes--storage issues? We have them in spades.

  7. I *had* a 6x6' square shelf unit full in my library (formerly my son's room), plus a smaller shelf unit in my room, and that was after serious culling of mediocre fiction. BUT THEN my daughter and her boyfriend, who live with me now (but not forever) outgrew all their shelves. I bid temporary goodbye to five large cartons of books which are now stacked on a bare wall in my room and allowed her to take over that space. When I get my shelves back I'm going to start culling, again. And [probably] no new books for now! I'm always confounded by decorators who have to BUY cute or stylish books for their bookshelves.

    1. I know! I don't get that either. Rich enough to hire a decorator, but pretty poor if you don't own books. My sister-in-law used to own a used book store and she would get decorators as customers sometimes.

  8. We have Ikea's "billy" bookcases in both tall and short, in both teak and white. They seem to be the only Ikea product that doesn't fall apart. They are stuffed full, though! We periodically do a book purge, and I'm delighted that our library takes donations.