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.