I can’t resist a book store or a book box at a garage sale. I love the smell and feel of them. My own collection is a random mix of art, music, self-improvement and simple home décor. Then there’s poetry, ghost stories, horror stories and books on fishing. One shelf contains true crime, forensics and criminal law. (Don’t worry – it’s research for stories.)
Our taste in books is a very personal but very revealing trait. You can learn a lot about a person by browsing through their collection. My sister’s bookshelves are filled with books about Italy, while a friend has a huge collection of craft and sewing books. My son has a collection of classic James Bond books.
Do you have a collection? What does it say about you?
Books tend to fall into four different categories of appeal.
They should be either:
- Enjoyable Escapism - to absorb and transport you (Fiction, poetry)
- Educational or informative (Non-Fiction – How-to and self-help)
- Beautiful and uplifting (Art, photography – coffee table books)
- Sentimental or valuable (First editions, special gifts, photo albums, etc)
I find one of the hardest things to do is to part with books. I collect more and more but I’m quickly running out of shelves to store them on, and while it is said that you can’t have too many books, it’s important to treat them all with respect. A well written book should mean as much to the reader as it does to the person who wrote it.
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There are a few things to consider in caring for books:
Don’t display them in order of size, colour or thickness. This will look too posed and unnatural.
Do display them by topic or by author. This makes it easier to find a particular book.
Don’t jam them too tightly together. This not only makes it hard to get them out of the shelf, but it can encourage mould and mildew to develop. Books should be able to ‘breathe’. This is especially important in the winter when the air is moist.
Do use a bit of randomness in the way your books are placed. Mix it up a little by having vertical and horizontal piles. This shows that your books are used and appreciated and not just for show.
If you have so many books that it’s hard to keep track of and find them, consider using a number system and writing yourself an inventory.
If you lend them out to anyone, make note of which book, to whom, and when, so that you can ensure its return. The same goes if you borrow from others or from the library.
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I know that electronic readers are a wonderful advancement, and a convenient way to store a multitude of books, but I don’t believe they will ever fully replace the joy of owning a good book, of holding it in your hands, turning the pages and smelling the ink. A bookshelf filled with well loved, dog-eared and precious books make any home personalised and inviting.