Friday, December 10, 2010

A problem. A solution. A problem. A solution.

My name is Hippomanic Jen, and I'm a book-aholic.

I love to read books.

I love to buy books.

I love to reread books.

I hate to give them away, because I might want to read it later.

I once answered a phone poll, and among other things they wanted an estimate of how many books I own. The options were along the following lines:

a 0 books
b 1 book
c 2 or 3 books
d 4 or more books.

I was astounded. So astounded that I can remember that the first and last options were 0 and 4 or more respectively. Who would have fewer than 4 books in their possession? I still don't know what the question was trying to acheive.

When we were having Dad design the house one of the essentials on the list was a wall to place our bookcases against that wasn't in a bedroom. I've known people who have had to give away thier libraries when they are expecting their second child, because they need the spare room for the new baby. This was not going to happen to us.

But over time, one acquires more books (particularly if one is studying and/or needs resources for preaching).

Then one ends up with the following problem:

Books on a cupboard in my office.

One of two huge bookcases full of books against the book wall my Dad made certain was in the house plans (it would've helped if I'd rotated the image, but you get the drift).

Books on a small shelf in the spare bedroom (it needed to be rotated too).

Books on a shelf in the cupboard in our bedroom.

Hmmm. Even though I have brought myself to do some selective culling of the book population, there are a few issues.
1. I'm asthmatic and seem to be having a problem with house dust.
2. I'm a terrible housekeeper and never have time to dust all the bookshelves.
3. I really need to rationalise book locations. After all, there is a perfectly good book wall to have a consolidated library.
The solution:
We priced cabinets with doors to keep out / minimise the dust and that would take up the entire length of the book wall (which had some space for more bookcases - but inevitably not enough length to fit the little bookcase that lives in the spare bedroom).
We measured the lineal metres of shelf required. Checked out what was available, and ordered three units (2 x 1200mm wide units and 1 x 600mm wide unit). If the skirting and cornice was removed from the sides, and they were made to fit together, they should fit perfectly. We looked at the example in the furniture shop and decided that the shelves were reasonably spaced, and that if we got the 2100mm high rather than the 1800mm high units we would get an extra shelf and that would get us closer to our desired lineal metres of shelf.
They came today.
They looked pretty.
They were heavy for the blokes to manhandle.

My Beloved had to take the skirting board off the walls along the book wall so that they'd fit. We were really hoping that the walls of the alcove were plumb. We joined the three units together and then slid them back into the space.

My Beloved pushed on the joins with his feet and I ran back and forth and pushed the ends back little by little until it fit snugly into the space.
Beautiful, hey?

Unfortunately, despite their beauty and the functionality of the new bookcases there is a problem.
We decided not to specify the distance between the shelves, because we decided that what they had was about right, why would we stuff them around any more? They were already putting doors on, and taking skirting and cornice off, and making them to fit neatly together.
It didn't even cross my mind that a taller 2100mm high bookcase would have THE SAME NUMBER OF SHELVES as the 1800mm one. (Doesn't everyone want to absolutely maximize how many books they can store? Or I might want to have all my 4 books on separate shelves, you know.)
And who would guess that those shelves would be evenly spaced, so there's not a hope of putting an extra shelf in between two existing shelves, because they are all 370mm apart and my shortest books are all 190mm tall.
One of the things I was looking forward to was not having books stacked on their sides.
Another was not having two rows of books on the shelf so that you can't see the back ones.
But my very clever Beloved has come up with a solution.
The smaller books could be stored in two rows with one behind. But this means you can't see what you've got.
However, by putting a half width shelf along the back that is slightly lower than the top of the front row (and entirely behind them) we can raise a back row so that the majority of each spine will be visible.
He is very clever, my Beloved.
And the chance that I'll let him go?


Crazy Sister said...

Hey, that IS clever! I did that with my tea cups once, but hadn't thought to do it with books.

Mine are all a mix of horizontal and vertical. It's just one of those necessities of being a book hoarder!

Aren't you glad I took that Klingon Dictionary off your hands? Freed you up some space there...

Emily Sue said...

I take it the shelves are fixed? I searched high and low to find decent sized bookcases with movable shelves so I could add another shelf to each one. Thank you, Ikea! The middle shelf is fixed for stability but the others are movable.

Also... try doing a major book cull. Honestly, it's really cathartic and feels great. (And I am a book lover/hoarder too.) I got rid of most of the "must read that one day" books - I figured someone else might as well read them for now and I can buy them secondhand if I desperately want to read them. I also culled most of the books I'd read only once. I ended up getting rid of about 4 boxes full.

Hippomanic Jen said...

Yep. Fixed shelves. We could have asked for different heights, but what they had for the 1800mm high bookcase seemed about right to us, given the extra 300mm for an extra shelf on top in a 2100mm unit.

We have no Ikea in town.

There is no Ikea in Toowoomba.

I'm presuming there would be at least one in Brisbane. We don't go to Brisbane all that often.

I am actually doing a light cull of books. But there are ones I can't get rid of. I might not have read my ancient history texts often in the last 15 years, but I need them. I have reread some and will reread more through life.

However, I can live without all the Christian "How to 'x' in 5 easy steps", or "10 points to a better prayer life".

Hippomanic Jen said...

The point with the Christian books is that there is a style of popular book that is poorly researched, repeat the same points over and over to get more pages (many could have been 15 page leaflets), and most of them I could have written from what I know myself already.

Many others are thought provoking references that are deep theologically, well researched from both scripture and church history and practice and I will turn to them over and over again. These I keep.

Loony Lace Lady said...

I will have to come and see this wonder that has taken place. Sorry about the shelf height. I agree with the cull bit, some are impossible to get rid of. Speaks one who has 2 rows of books on shelves and still not enough room.

Wendy said...

Keep culling Jen. We, of course, live in a small Japanese house with earthquake possibilities (means anchoring bookcases to walls and not having them near beds). Also with the knowledge that one day we'll have to pack them up again...culling is a way of life. At least twice a year I prowl the bookshelves, culling. Because even if you can fit all your books there now, you won't be able to in the future, because you'll keep accumulating year after year.

Givinya De Elba said...

That is a brilliant solution! Well done, Jen's Beloved! Those shelves look wonderful in that space. Hm. I wonder what you're doing RIGHT NOW? Moving piles of books into their new homes?

Givinya De Elba said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Givinya De Elba said...

Sorry - mistake in the comment so I decided to start again! I was going to say:

And cull if you want to, but you don't have to. I trust that the books you've kept are the ones you WANT to keep, so don't give yourself sleepless nights for letting books go before their time.

Sometimes, tell me where you got the bookcases. I have had a good idea for solving our 35-packing-boxes-of-books problem at the same time as solving our empty-entryway problem. WE will be culling, but it would be unwise to crack open those boxes without anywhere to put the keepers!

And before anyone gets up me for having 35 boxes of books: 90% of them are not mine! I believe that 60% of them aren't even his! They do, however, happen to be our job to sort through. Poor us.

Long dark hair, blue eyes said...

Wow I am impressed, that is a lot of books and equally a lot of book shelving space. I am a book-a-holic too but because I am allergic to dust I really cant re-read them for more than a year or two which makes clearing out my shelves very easy!

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