Books and the Shelves that Hold Them

This is a picture of my bedside table soon after one of those bi-weekly cleaning and organization fits overtook me, usually at the command of my first wife, Carol, aka She Who Must Be Obeyed.

Over the years we have collected a fair number of bookshelves, well, collected is not quite the right word, more like they were a necessity becoming a virtue. The picture to the left is a built-in bookcase that was an essential part of the sunroom we added about 15 years ago. I love rooms to have built-in bookshelves. If worse comes to worst, you can even allow people to put a few pictures or knick-knacks on the shelves as long as the books have someplace else to go.

I probably don’t have any pictures of our first shelves which consisted of a combination of cement blocks and parts of plywood boards. I wouldn’t be surprised if we used some cardboard boxes too, (see right) and maybe some wooden fruit crates, but I do have pictures and the originals of almost all shelves since my student days.

My favorites are the “lazy susans” that you can pile on top of each other to as high as you care to go I suppose. See left. I remember how excited I was when I first saw them in the Levenger catalog, you know, the only one that has any useful things in it at all. That reminds me: I bought some 3X5 cards from them with my name and address on which they used in their advertising. I got two extra Xmas cards that year from friends I hadn’t heard from in a long time, each one commenting that he had seen my name in a Levenger catalog. So those advertising people may have a point.

We sometimes wonder what kind of people can live in a house with no bookshelves। Well, I suppose you can borrow every single book you read, or give it away after you do, but that doesn’t seem quite right, does it?

I can’t think of a single room in our house that doesn’t have at least a few books, even the smallest rooms, yes I think even the closets and the garage, the latter because that is the marshalling space for books on their way to being donated or recycled in some manner. See left.

“They also serve who only sit on their shelves and wait,” with apologies to John Milton I think.

A good friend who is really a master craftsman, especially with wood, did some interior re-modeling for us about 20 years ago, including some shelves and storage places below in our family room. Here is a picture to the right.

As you can see, Carol gets to use this space quite a bit too. The storage space is below, including a place for a TV. Of course, what can one do with large books that don’t fit conveniently in ordinary bookshelves? The easiest solution is to just pile them up in a neat way of course, like across the room next to the fireplace in the family room.

Or you can look for an end table that is better than just a place to put a lamp.

I’m pretty sure that these were screwed into the wall when we moved in to 3033 Ramada Drive. When I pointed out that I expected them to stay, the former owner’s kid quickly went to the living room and the bedroom to rip out a bunch of speakers that he had fastened to the wall, so we lived with loose wires high on the walls for some years before finally fixing that problem.

I think Mike Brown, the leader of the Band of Renown, put in some similar shelves on a wall in our bedroom, soon after moving in I would guess.

Probably about 12 or 15 years ago I was moseying around Billings Nursery antique shop and saw this absolutely beautiful cherry free standing bookshelf. Right.

I didn’t even look at the price tag it was so stunningly beautiful, nor would I take even the chance of haggling over the price. This picture doesn’t really do it justice. It stands in our upstairs hallway. I like to keep my favorite books there because it is so beautiful.

Have I forgotten any places or shelves? Yes, I haven’t even mentioned our lovely teak shelves from Denmark in the Dining Room formerly known as the Living Room. We found these at the Base Exchange in Upper Heyford while I was serving with Her Majesty’s Royal Air Force in the early 70s. They fit together in various ways, similar to the ones sold by Levenger, so they are very flexible. So there is a wall in the Dining Room, (see the picture to the left) a short wall next to our bed, and the leftovers in my basement lair. And then almost finally, there is the wet bar in the family room, above right, which doesn’t serve very well as a bar but does do a fair job in holding volumes of the Library of America. And various glasses, knick-knacks, and all sorts of odds and ends on their way to some other place when I can figure out where they should go.

A few more odds and ends are scattered around. There is an end table from Levenger in our bedroom, as well a bedframe that actually holds a few books as well.

I almost forgot Carol’s place for cooking books, and some scattered barrister’s bookshelves they call them I think. I found some more books in the unfinished part of the basement. I wonder how bad a book has to be to wind up down there? A neat little trapezoidal table that also could hold a few books was noted in a quick survey of the house. Of course, I haven’t even thought about the shelves in my office at the hospital. This is getting embarrassing.

There is a nice coffee-table book about living with books and their shelves, called At Home with Books by Ellis, Seebohm and Sykes. Another book of interest along these lines is Susan Susanka’s The Not-So-Big House.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s