Saturday, February 28, 2009
A wonderful blog called The Paris Apartment showcased several exquisite pictures of bookshelves. It inspired me to consider my own shelves. Indeed, you can learn a lot about a person by perusing his or her bookself. I have often quipped that I married James for his book collection. In fact,he had a beautiful edition of the OED, so could you blame me? (By the way, a free prize to the folks who can spot which of these pics is of his shelves.) Sometimes you can uncover a deeper truth about a person than you had anticipated. I once went to a kiddie party where the husband had his Henry Miller/Anais Nin erotic book collection in the living room. I confess it did alter my opinion of him-- raised it a few pegs actually. Studying a book shelf not only allows us to see what books people like to read, we discover if they are a neatnik with alphabetically arranged texts categorized by the dewey decimal system, or if they are a stacker, with mounds of books serving as an ottoman. I myself have tried vainly to separate texts by genre, but in the end, it's a mish mash with cookbooks next to art books, next to medieval poetry. The resulting shelves are a pastiche of color and font-- a sculpture of sorts. There are some interior decorators who advocate covering one's books in a uniform paper to create an orderly appearance. First of all, I 'm not sure I'd ever have the time to wrap my books, and secondly, I would never be able to find anything. Every room in my house has a bookshelf of which I have visually catalogued. Ask me a title and I close my eyes, envisioning its spine standing alongside its neighbor. Early Incantations and Rituals? Second to top shelf in the dining room on its side. Italian Gardens? In James' office, pink post-its sticking out. I have once heard it said that a house isn't a home until it has a cat. I feel that way about books, that a house needs books to be a home. Or, as Gloria Upson says to Rosilind Russell in Auntie Mame, "Aren't books awfully decorative?"