Tuesday, April 19, 2011
When Home is... Full Bookshelves
This happens every year. The bookshelves are filled and no more books can be stacked sideways on top of others. It’s time to be ruthless and work out which are worthy to stay and which are on the way to Vinnies or the School Fete.
Usually I do this job alone and it doesn’t take too long to pick a pile of paperback fiction that I can live without but this year something different happened... Stuart. While innocently out having coffee, unbeknownst to me, he was busy making piles – ‘suggested’ piles – of books to give away. The suggested pile was chosen with common sense in mind but no emotion.
It was then that I realised books not only give a room its soul but they also act as markers of our history, they help shape the story of the people we become. They are yet another expression of making our homes truly ours.
Ok – I know I will never need to use my pregnancy books again or Robin Barker’s bible Baby Love but I still want to see the bent back spines of those books on the shelves, remembering how thumbed through they were. I like seeing the folded back pages in Baby Love reminding me that, yes, at three weeks old babies properly wake up and cry for substantial periods of time and that’s normal. It was hell at the time but now I fondly remember turning down the corner of that page at 2am one morning with three-week-old Lily screaming in one arm while I held the book in the other.
And as for fiction; I agree that my shelves filled with Virginia Andrews complete collection – and dare I mention Penny Vincenzi – may cause visitors to wonder how I became a book editor or why any magazine would ask me to write book reviews, but these books are such old friends. At least my Sweet Valley High collection is hidden under the bed...
I haven’t read Flowers in the Attic since I was 14 but it was within these pages I discovered the power of reading and the pleasure of escaping into another world. I like remembering that excitement and I don’t mind that it’s on display for all to see. They may take up nearly a whole shelf but they are staying.
So while Stuart’s ‘suggested’ pile went straight back on the shelves I still managed to get us back to full capacity rather than over capacity.
Interestingly, my ‘suggested’ pile for him also went back on the shelves. Funny how common sense goes when it’s about pulling apart your own story. I don’t think he’ll be reading Tuning a Racing Boat, Three Sheets to the Wind, They Ran with the Ball or The World’s Best Rugby Book Ever again but there they sit.