Cozy, warm, good reading lamps, overstuffed chair, the perfect library!
For you book lovers out there, do you usually buy your books or do you get them from the library or borrow them from friends? If you own the book, do you keep it or pass it on (or - shudder - toss it out)?
I have a lot of books, to put it mildly. When our previous home burned, the firemen remarked on how many books we owned, and that was only a fraction of what we have now. Many people coming to our home for the first time mention in a semi-shocked voice at how many books there are.
I have mainly chosen to buy my books and, obviously, keep them. At one point, I belonged to half a dozen book clubs and bought new hardcover books at bookstores. But as my coffers emptied, I started buying books at the used bookstores and on amazon.com. Then I started purchasing them only at thrift shops (although some of those charge as much as used book stores do.) Now, I am reduced to borrowing them from the library.
This could be a bookshelf in my house.
I know, reduced is too strong a word. But I actually don't like the library. Not the Bismarck Public Library, anyway. (Hope no one from Bismarck reads this!) I like the public library in Mandan, Bismarck's sister city across the Missouri River. Although it is not in its original building, it is still in an old brick building and is warm, inviting and comforting. Bismarck's Library, however, is too modern, too cold, too sterile, and has too many books.
Yes, too many books. Whenever I try to browse for books there, I feel overwhelmed and give up. So unlike my first library, the Crosby, ND, Library, just a small building with a couple of rooms. I would go straight to the fiction section and start browsing. There weren't too few books, and there weren't too many either. It was just right, as Goldilocks would say.
I bet the old Bismarck Public Library was a cool place. I love old brick libraries with wooden reading tables and chairs, and librarians who stamped the books by hand. I was a librarian at Columbus High School in my junior year (during study hall) and loved it. I was extremely angry when the new English teacher took "my" job away from me in senior year and gave it to another girl. I'm surprised I didn't turn out to be a librarian. (My daughter did, though!)
Oops! Time to get a new bookcase!
But the main thing I dislike about our library is that it never has the books I want! Yesterday is an example. I went with a list of 15 books and came home with four. They didn't have a copy of "The Winter House" (Nicci French), nor "The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian" (Sherman Alexie), nor "Howards End is on the Landing: A Year of Reading at Home" (Susan Hill), nor "The Sonnets" (yes, they had Shakespeare's sonnets but not the Warwicke Collins' novel). They didn't even have a copy of "The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie" (Muriel Sparks)!
Six of the books I wanted were checked out (this happens to me all the time). So I went home and went online to reserve them. There is just one person ahead of me on the list for "The Yellow-Lighted Bookshop: A Memoir, a History" (Lewis Buzbee) and also just one for "The Blue Tattoo: The Life of Olive Oatman (Women in the West)" (Margot Mifflin). There are two waiting for "Remarkable Creatures" (Tracy Chevalier). That's not bad. But five people ahead of me for "Wolf Hall: A Novel" (Hilary Mantel) and six people for "The Swan Thieves" (Elizabeth Kostova) is a bit much. And 26 in line for "Half-Broke Horses" (Jeannette Walls). OMG I'll never get it!!!
What books did I end up with then? 1. "The Zookeeper's Wife: A War Story" by Diane Ackerman. 2. "People of the Book" by Geraldine Brooks. 3. "Travels With Charley" by John Steinbeck. It's for an on-line book club I've joined. I had read it years ago and was pleased to get the chance to re-read it. 4 . "A Brief History of Montmaray" by Michelle Cooper. I learned about this book from Loretta on the "Pomegranates and Paper" blog. Thanks, Loretta. It was a ripping good yarn, as they say. I started it last evening and already finished it this morning. It will be reviewing it soon on my book blog.
That beautiful bow-window is what sold me on this
comfortable, intriguing-looking home library.
It shouldn't take me too long to read the other three. After that I'll have to put my patience cap on and wait for the others to come in. Or, I can do as the author of "Howards End is On the Landing" set out to do. Her aim was to read only the books in her own home for a year. "Howards End" is of course the famous novel by E. M. Forster. (P.S. For you grammarphiles out there, there is no apostrophe in Howards in either book title.)
This is what amazon.com says about Hill's book: "This is a year of reading from home, by one of Britain's most distinguished authors. Early one autumn afternoon in pursuit of an elusive book on her shelves, Susan Hill encountered dozens of others that she had never read, or forgotten she owned, or wanted to read for a second time. The discovery inspired her to embark on a year-long voyage through her books, forsaking new purchases in order to get to know her own collection again. A book which is left on a shelf for a decade is a dead thing, but it is also a chrysalis, packed with the potential to burst into new life. Wandering through her house that day, Hill's eyes were opened to how much of that life was stored in her home, neglected for years. "Howards End is on the Landing" charts the journey of one of the nation's most accomplished authors as she revisits the conversations, libraries and bookshelves of the past that have informed a lifetime of reading and writing."
I certainly could do that. There are so many books I have meant to re-read, beginning with "Rebecca" and on to "Jane Eyre", "Wuthering Heights", "The Grapes of Wrath", and so many, many more. And then there are the books I bought at thrift shops or used bookstores because they were cheap and looked interesting. There are those I discarded after a few pages or a chapter. I should give "Wicked" (Gregory Maguire) another try. And "Gentlemen and Players" too (Joanne Harris - I usually love her books.) Then there are the second and third books in a series (like Rosalind Miles' Isolde trilogy). But it's been too long since I read book one and I'd have to re-read that too! Kristen has left books here also, like "Pope Joan" (Donna Woolfolk Cross).
But no! 2011 will have to be my Year of Reading From Home. This is going to be my "Year of
Reading From My 'A' List". And hopefully I'll get "Half-Broke Horses" by Christmas!
Here's an interesting link from a post on Cornflower's Blog Blog which discusses the pros and cons of patronizing the library:
This looks like a library in an English country home.
I adore this look. I especially love putting as many
pictures on the walls as you can fit in. I do that!
ADDED LATER: Janet's comment reminded me that I had wanted to add a bit more to this post. I wanted to describe my ideal home library. I have often dreamed of putting an addition on to the back of my house. It would, of course, have wall-to-wall, floor to ceiling bookshelves, made of some darkish but not-too-dark wood with lovely trim at the top. I would give my library an English cottage theme, with forest-green walls and accents of dark blue and burgundy. The chairs would for the most part be leather club or overstuffed chintz, so I could tuck my legs up underneath me while reading, but there would be a smallish table with wooden chairs for breakfasting, perusing the morning papers, or, Jane Austen-like, writing letters.
There would, of course, be a fireplace flanked by wing chairs, a big wooden antique desk and lots of floor lamps. (I can no longer read in the evening without my reading glasses and a good standing lamp.) My prized Scottish castle oil painting would hang over the fireplace. There would be a vast oriental rug and big hassocks on which to sit or prop one's legs, or for use as a coffee/tea tray. The TV would be banned but certainly there would be some sort of sound system for soothing classical music. Any wall space that was not filled with bookshelves would be jammed with paintings, botanical prints, hunting dog prints and my etchings of buildings. There would definitely have to be a real dog lolling about on the carpet for company. And to be sure, there would be accessories like statuettes, some lovely pieces of china, a globe, perhaps an armillary sphere and other interesting bits and bobs.