I’ve run out of room in my library and I’ve run out of ways to weed my books. You might suggest, as John did, that we could get some shelves in another room. That could be a perfect solution if it weren’t for two things: 1) John’s idea of another room is a basement bedroom. It’s a perfectly pleasant room with no moisture issues, but I’m not going to spend time in it. But, even if I could convince him to put shelves in some other room–and I’m pretty sure I could–there’s this: 2) The thing taking space away from fitting all the fiction I’ve been buying is a collection of non-fiction books that I don’t really read, but I like to see them on the shelves, I like to occasionally dip into them, and I like to think of them as part of a little mini-reference library.
I don’t have to tell any of you how important a reference library is. My particular collection is not very broad and it is by no means deep enough on any topic to be of serious use. But it does give me delight. I mainly have books on books, collections of letters, bios and memoirs of novelists, oldish books on UK topics and a very small amount of history. When my shelf by shelf feature gets there (soon) you can see the range of things that I have. Some of these things are esoteric like an illustrated guide to military aircraft from WWII. I’m not a military aircraft buff by any means, but the illustrations are nice and I read tons of fiction from that era and I like having a visual frame of reference. I also have a 1950s atlas of London that is like an A to Z but nicer and, once again, a lot of my characters lived in 1950s London. So, how can I take these kinds of books, and put them in some other room? They need to be visible on a regular basis. And don’t even think of telling me to put some of my fiction in another room.
Speaking of fiction, I have done a ton of weeding. I’m starting to get to the point that I only keep stuff I know I want to re-read. Having done a fair amount of re-reading in recent years, I’ve discovered I quite like it, so this is not a meaningless criterion. Of course the TBR pile seems to grow exponentially and has been starting to pile up on the floor and my nightstand. I wish I had counted or taken a picture of all the newish (to me) unread books that weren’t on the shelves. It was pretty daunting, and fun. I realized I couldn’t get rid of any more books but I needed to do something. So I made a pile of all the non-fiction that I was less likely to consult as a reference book, and I took the work of two fiction authors off my shelves and put them in a holding place on some shelves in the basement. I don’t think I will get rid of them, but maybe if they sit down there long enough I will realize I really don’t want them. The result was that I was able to make enough room to fit everything on the shelves in the library.
For now, I am happy with the result. It is nice to have everything off the floor. The books also shifted enough that new book vignettes were created on the shelves as new books were added and everything was given a bit of breathing room. I might need to stop buying books for a while. Like none of us have said that before.