One of my friends, a Philosopher/Physicist and author of String Theory for Dummies, Andrew Jones, made a statement at the turn of the year that surprised me. He kept track of all the books he read in 2009. Fifty books.
Does that surprise you? It surprised me. That's a book a week with a two week respite. Andrew did this while researching, writing and publishing his book as well as keeping up several blogs.
Andrew got me thinking. How many books did I read in 2009? I never kept track. I am what I consider a heavy reader. Or perhaps I would be more of a heavy reader if I didn't watch the occasional television program or spend so much time on the computer.
When one enters my home, the first view of the room is the opposite wall. I have no furniture located there, except for my bookshelf adorned with a triangular aquarium, which I've decorated with a lovely china musical lady, some smooth stones scattered on the bottom and a living plant. The books on the shelves below distracted from the harmony of the view, I thought after viewing Brian's bookshelf. So, for the sake of aesthetics, I arranged the shelf with all white books. What a difference!
Now, one might say, "How ridiculous!" How ridiculous, indeed! What happens to the Library of Congress method, Dewey Decimal System? How can one find a certain title or author if not organized properly? I truly have to face reality. In my home, on my bookshelves such forms of organization have gone the wayside for a long time. Why? Two reasons. One is that when I am in the midst of reading a book and I am interrupted I have a tendency to set it on the nearest shelf to find it later. Since I read more than one book at a time, this already sets things apart. I don't always remember what books I was reading and nothing is more frustrating for me to forget the title I was reading and poke through my shelves trying to remind myself. Admittedly this is a fault of my failing memory, or is it just that I'm busy with so many things, I can't keep my mind focus (and organized)!
The second reason is, I already do not use the normal system for setting books upon shelves because of differences in size. If I arrange them by author for example. One book might be thin and short, and the book that fits next to it might be large and thick. The little books get lost on the shelves and I forget they exist. Another memory issue problem. Darn it! So, I generally have organized my books by size.
Oh, I forgot, there is a third reason. I have more books than I do shelf room, so they are not always in upright position. One can put more books on a shelf if one sets them in a stack sideways. I wish I had more bookshelves. In fact I wish my walls were covered with bookshelves. Like the library in Hearst Castle. I fell in love with that room the moment I saw it. I also wondered if Mr. Randolf William Hearst had ever read all those books. I would be surprised if he did. But, if Andrew Jones can read fifty books in one year, perhaps....
Back to the bookshelf with the triangular terrarium. I put all white books on those shelves. It draws the visitors eyes directly to it the moment they walk in the door. The terrarium is much more noticeable, too. I believe it is pleasing to see. After all, it is the most organized bookshelf in the house. I think it makes a nice impression and the mixed up order of the rest of my living room, whatever it may be on the day a visitor arrives, is not so obvious. I do get a lot of comments. "Oh, I didn't know you had a terrarium. How pretty that is." Then the second look goes automatically to the rest of my book collection.
Occasionally a visitor will go directly to my bookshelves to take a look at my collection. Start reading the titles, make comments on them. However, my son (pictured above, reading) came to visit the other day. With his eyes roving my shelves, he suddenly informed me that I had several of his books. They were loaners I was supposed to return to him. Some I had read. Some I had not. I should have kept them together, so I would have finished them all, and returned them in a timely manner. But, there he was pulling books from my shelves. He was not being rude. No. there were a few he had promised to others and a few he wanted to read again. A few he left on my shelves with the promise I would read and return soon. Darn! Why didn't I pull them off the shelves and set them aside? Because I have no place special to put them. I need more bookshelves, and less decorative items about the house!
Thinking about Andrew's fifty books again and a discussion I had with my book group leader, Abbie, who keeps track of every book she ever read and provides a little review for each one in the hopes of providing her granddaughter a great list to choose from when she is of an age to become interested in books, I decided to go through my shelves and familiarized myself with what is sitting there. They have been begging me for a long time to individually acknowledge them. I have felt them nudging me every time I walk by. Or was that my own subconscious pull telling me to put down that vacuum or dusting rag and read a book!
Last night I went through the bookshelf in my back bedroom, what I call my spare room. I also call it the kitty room, as that is where they are gathered together when I have to close them in. It is also my black cat's favorite resting space. Surprisingly they respect my bookshelves. I am not sure how long I sat there on my little stool writing down the titles and authors, but I do know that my back grew cold and when I stood up, my legs were stiff. But, it was nice to discover some of the titles I have read, and the satisfaction of remembering the stories and facts locked inside. It was also nice to recognize the titles I had bought for various reasons and remember why I had found them intriguing. This encourages me to carry a few more off to bed!