I know hoarding is a real thing and I also know that just cleaning up a place does nothing to solve the underlying psychological condition, but I am setting that all aside and risking insensitivity, so I can talk about this absolute delightful shambles of a bookstore.
If you like rummaging through second hand bookshops as much as I do, you will eventually run into situations where it seems like the book seller has hoarding tendencies. Some of these shops are exercises in controlled chaos, but with some climbing gear and a hard hat you can find your way to all sorts of interesting things. I guess these are run by high-functioning hoarders. Then there are those booksellers who seem to relish amassing stock at the expense selling anything. How they pay the bills is a mystery. I was even in one delightfully large store in the northeast of the US where the entire fiction section was entirely blocked by piles and piles of “new” stock and completely inaccessible. The owner just shrugged his shoulders and offered no remedy. I’ve encountered aged booksellers who are well beyond retirement still taking in way more books than they could ever sell and then pricing them not to sell.
What follows is a bit of a photo essay of a shop/seller on the more extreme end of the spectrum.
As I have mentioned many times about our week at Sissinghurst, we pretty much only went into the gardens when they were closed to the public. So, someone just asked me last week, what did you do between 11:00 and 5:30 when the gardens were open? Well there was perusing the little charity bookshop on site, there was a stroll into the village of Sissinghurst, there was lunch eating, some shelf reorganizing, etc.
But the one thing that really put a sybaritic twist on the week of leisure was my afternoon bath. Our bathroom had a nice deep tub and it was right in front of a window with a perpetual cool breeze coming in. Normally I can get pretty antsy in the tub, the hot water can be a little overwhelming. But with a cool breeze going, my linger time went up exponentially. I would read, snooze a bit, and most of all just sit back and bask in the luxury of doing nothing and not having to be anywhere.
The Long Library at Sissinghurst is a delight and a frustration. So beautiful and so chock full of things I want to look at, but none of it is allowed off the shelves and most of it is behind a velvet rope and defies attempts at photographic documentation. Our week in the Priest’s House gave us after-hours access to the gardens, but alas, not to Vita’s study nor the library. And unlike grander, stately homes that have lots of very old books, the books in Vita and Harold’s library are of a vintage that is more interesting to me. It was a really good thing that the books were secured on the shelves with what looked like fishing line because more than once I reached to take a volume off the shelf.
I’m not going to caption any of these photos. I put them up for you to click on and zoom in and explore on your own.