I had the best of intentions: clean up my bookshelves, find a few to donate, make room for others I have scattered about the house, and make it look more aesthetically pleasing like the bookshelves I see in magazines. It was a simple goal, one easily achieved on a Labor Day afternoon.
To me books are like old friends, and sorting through the shelves was like taking a walk down memory lane or going to a family reunion. Some titles made me smile as I remembered a time in my life when I came to own a book. Others reminded me of more challenging times, like my copy of The Joy of Stress which is tattered and well worn and which I set aside to reread.
I sorted and made piles and gradually my bookshelves began to look like something I could work with. I imagined little knick-knacks, photographs, special souvenirs I could put here and there on the slelves. With my bookshelf looking less cluttered I was certain I would feel less stressed each time I walked past; the tidy shelves would be a source of peace.
Later in the afternoon when Gerry came in from outside where he had been working, I called him to come upstairs and see the shelves. I wasn’t finished yet, but I was certain he would be impressed with my progress thus far.
“I kind of liked it with all the books piled together on top of one another,” he said upon observing the shelves and hearing of my plans.
And with that I began to doubt my plan. If Gerry liked it filled with books and he wasn’t even a tenth the bibliophile that I was, could I really be happy with designer bookshelves? Would I miss the old friends I decided to dispose of? Were bookshelves really meant to hold ornaments instead of books? And what about my fantasy of having my picture taken in front of my bookshelves for the author photo on my first book?
I decided to sleep on it.
Today, my bookshelves are full once again. I changed the orientation of some books to add some visual appeal, but the shelves are definitely full. In removing some books, I made room for others that I had stored in my nightstand and in my office so my effort wasn’t in vain.
Now I have four full recyclable grocery bags filled with books that I removed from the shelves. My intent is to donate them but, just for now, I tucked the bags in the attic. I’ll wait a few days, probably go through them again, and then make the final determination of what goes and what stays.
Like my dad, and Robert Burns, used to say: “the best laid plans of mice and men gang aft aglay”.