Guest blogger and First Book supporter Mindy Klasky is the author of six fantasy novels, including the award-winning, best-selling The Glasswrights’ Apprentice and numerous short stories. Her latest trilogy, The Jane Madison Series, chronicles a love-struck D.C. librarian who discovers she’s a witch. Visit www.mindyklasky.com to learn more about Mindy’s work and her support of First Book.
A couple of weeks ago, my husband and I essentially renewed our marriage vows: after almost six years of happily wedded bliss, we combined our books. Both Mark and I are avid readers. We have always loved owning books, going back to them for frequent re-reads, for consultation on specific lines that we partially remember, for reference to precise character descriptions and plot twists. His office and my office are filled with bookshelves – a total of 11 (and that doesn’t count the three gigantic built-in bookshelves upstairs!)
I learned a lot in our little marital exercise.
First, we had surprisingly few duplicate books. There were a handful of exceptions (most notably, The Lord of the Rings – we own a surprising total of four complete copies!) and we both had copies of some “English-major” books (Twain, the Brontes, Hawthorne, Hemingway)- novels that we’d originally been required to read for high school or for college. We both had extensive collections of popular fiction (mysteries, fantasy, science fiction), but our favorite authors varied enough that there was almost no duplication. Sure, the public library gained a few bags of books for its ongoing book sale, but not nearly as many as I expected.
Second, we own a *lot* of mass-market paperbacks. (Mass markets are the standard size of paperbacks, as compared to the larger, usually- more-literary “trade paperbacks.”) That’s not totally surprising (see note above – we both had extensive collections of popular fiction), but it did pose a challenge for organizing our shelves. Mass markets don’t use bookshelf space very efficiently – they are too short and too shallow to get the most “bang” for the bookshelf “buck.” We solved the problem by pulling out all of our mass markets, placing them in a separate set of shelves, stacking them from top to bottom, two deep, in alphabetic order by author’s last name. The arrangement isn’t as convenient as traditional shelving, but we could fit in more than four times as many books.
Third, we now have a gigantic new “library” in our home. I knew that Mark’s books were there before, and I’d perused “his” shelves occasionally in the past, looking for something specific. Now, with the books organized in alphabetic order (except for those mass markets!) “his” titles seem to jump out at me more. They issue louder invitations to be read. I could easily curl up for months and months and months, just reading through books I didn’t even know we owned.
We didn’t combine everything. Mark still has a separate stash of baseball books, and volumes about music and musical performers. I still have my reference books on the Middle Ages, and I have a few shelves of my beloved children’s books (especially Caldecott winners!) But for the most part, our books now live together as happily as we do.
So? How about you? Have you ever combined books with a sibling or a roommate or a partner or a spouse? What did you learn from the exercise?