Monday, March 28, 2016

DOES ANYONE ELSE HAVE THIS PROBLEM?

by Patty Copeland

 As you can see from the photo below, I’ve double-shelved paperback books, then started stacking on top of rows—vertically and horizontally—and have very little space left. The bottom shelf contains research, partial manuscripts and writing articles saved over the years that are rotated out from an armoire that contains more shelves crammed with yet more articles and research. The top shelf is still decorative (even if it does contain boxes of photos: remember those from before the days of digital?), but I’m afraid its days are numbered, destined to be replaced by yet more books.



I have more bookshelves built over my desk that contain only non-fiction reference books on writing, as well as seven different kinds of dictionaries (!), Roget’s Thesaurus, Strunk and White’s Elements of Style, The Associated Press Stylebook, two different synonym finders, books of quotations, character naming, history timelines, or as the King of Siam said, “Et cetera, et cetera, et cetera!”

And to think this is only a portion (both fiction and non-fiction) of what I used to have. At one time I had custom-made bookcases about four feet high that lined two walls of my family room, a really large family room, and one bookcase that went from floor to ceiling. Each move over the last twenty-plus years has necessitated that I eliminate fiction I could bear to part with and trim the non-fiction section. After all, movers charge by weight. And still I had rows of cartons of books stacked along a wall for my most recent (and last) move.

You may have noticed that all my fiction books are in paperback form. I simply could not afford to purchase all the books I want to read in hardback, let alone those of my favorite authors (I have too many). I have two library cards and make liberal use of both for new best sellers and authors I want to try simply because I read so quickly. And those library loans often lead to buying paperbacks by the same author.

Someone recently asked me about all the fiction paperbacks I’ve collected. “You’ve read them. You can’t possibly still need them.” Oh, but I do. I confess I have re-read some of my Nora Roberts, Linda Howard, Elizabeth Phillips, Dick Francis, Thomas Perry and George R. R. Martin collections more than twice. I had re-read my complete set of Georgette Heyer (her humor used to put me in a deliciously happy frame of mind) and would have continued doing so except I lost it in a flooded basement.

I’ve discarded complete sets of books that I’ve repurchased years later because I wanted to read them again, e.g., Dorothy Dunnett’s seven volumes of Game of Kings (if you haven't read the Lymon Chronicles, then you should; he's one of the original alpha males). I’ve lost count of the paperback books I’ve purchased and recycled through second-hand bookstores and libraries at discounted prices. I can see by the shelves that it’s now time to eliminate more.

In a way, these shelves represent the treasure chest of my reading life and who wants to lose treasure? Please tell me I'm not alone with this obsession.

Patty Copeland, who is once more dipping her toes into writing after a long absence. She didn't even mention her current absorption: e-books. She feels their strongest selling point is that they take up only virtual space…in suitcases and on bookshelves.

15 comments:

  1. Great post! I just moved and I'm trying to find spaces for all my bookshelves, which are, of course double-shelved.

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    1. There never seems to be enough space, does there? I think all serious readers have the same problem.

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  2. Congrautalations to HiDee for winning my giveaway! I hope you enjoy the bundle, HiDee!

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  3. I'm filtering out my "real" books simply so my kids don't have to deal with them someday--I'm sure there will be enough other stuff without that! I still have several shelves worth, but my keepers are all on my Kindle anymore. I still have most of my reference books, but the Internet is my biggest research tool. Great post, Patty, and so nice to see you here.

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    1. The Internet is king for research and yet .... there's something about that one piece of information you saw in a particular book, in just about a particular section, around page...... I can't break myself of wanting a hard copy of whatever I think is key research. One thing is for sure: whether by book or printing out an Internet search, the paper companies won't be going out of business anytime because of me. And I think my next blog will on ebooks.

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  4. Easy way to solve your book storage problem? Buy a Kindle. My personal library reached 5,000 books, and I was moving. After moving all of those books, I said, "Never again!" Then I had to move again. I started donating books, giving away books, and selling books. In my new house, I got it down to 2 large bookcases in my upstairs hallway that became my library. Anything that didn't fit there--or in the built-in book case above my credenza or in the bookcases at my weekend house... Yeah. I'm hopeless when it comes to some books. I got rid of anything that didn't fit the allotted space. I now buy all my fiction in ebook form. So much easier to transport and even to read.

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    1. I'm buying most of my fiction in ebook format these days too. Yet that still leaves non-fiction for publishers to make money off me.

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  5. I too sat on boxes of books after my last move because my bookshelves were back-ordered. I hope to never move again, even though the shelves need purging from time to time.
    It's nice to know other people who have more books than shoes.

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    1. There are never enough book shelves! And I loved your comment about having more books than shoes.

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  6. You are definitely not alone! Besides full bookshelves, I have books stashed all over the house. I also have many paper boxes filled with keeper books stored in the garage. I just need a library of my own!

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    1. My problem now is that I'm outgrowing space on shelves for my keepers. And I learned the hard way that books stored in boxes aren't all that safe.....floods, mice, insects, etc.

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  7. Oh, my, Patty. I could have written nearly this same post! Books everywhere. Even the non-fiction books by your desk are the same ones I have. And that's not to mention the hundreds on my Kindle and my Nook. We Gems have a lot in common.

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    1. See, if it's a shared trait, it can't be an obsession--can it? Nah.

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  8. I'm getting ready for a cross-country move -- a partial move which will be completed in a couple of years. But the first priority on the move of what "we'll need for now in the new house" are bookshelves and books. I had to determine what number of bookshelves to send now and what to keep at the current house. Why? Because I need to have lighting put in so I can see my books at any time of the day -- don't want to have to use a flashlight to find one of my reference books. I cut my library down a lot before this move, but still have thousands of books on my shelves...plus the uncounted ones throughout the house as well as the ones my husband has. Both he and my father like to tell the story of how after our wedding, Dad told him that he had to take all my books as well as me as part of the bargain. It was only a couple dozen boxes back then. What a change all these years have brought!
    A house without books? Not something I can even imagine!

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    1. A house without books is a house without love, to me. Glad your husband accepted "all" of you.

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