I’m guessing that Thoreau’d sneer at me, but I take great comfort in being surrounded with the beautiful things I own. I figure most people collect something — DVDs, jewelry from ex-husbands, grudges. My love is 1st edition and signed books.
This past weekend, our household of hissing cats and beautiful women made the move from Manhattan to Brooklyn. The charm of living on the sixth floor of a six-story walk-up, with its rats, cockroaches, and garbage being stored indoors under the only staircase until the zero-hour of garbage day, had worn off after three years. We’ll miss the local color: the 2nd-story prostitute who cycled through Johns quickly and loudly enough to attract the attention and ire of her octogenarian neighbor, who called the cops when she heard through the building’s notoriously thin walls a John mouthing off about a gun; the two local “troubled kids” high schools, one of whose gangs I witnessed beat a kid with a hunk of 2X4 outside of the local McDonald’s, and who supposedly died from falling off the curb, busting his head open on the asphalt and bleed onto his screaming friend’s coat; the cute, middle-aged gay couple down the street who always let me take pictures of their corgi pups to save for later when I needed a boost of cute. There was no shortage of interesting people and great food.
Now we live in a modern apartment with neighbors whose parents pay the rent. They go to law school, play techno music that shakes the floor until three in the morning, and don’t wipe down the exercise equipment after use. A privileged bunch.
We in apartment 4J are still in the honeymoon phase, where the piles of empty cardboard boxes are more a happy reminder that the stress of the move has been weathered rather than a recycling task postponed. Even the cats’ constant hissing and fighting is mildly humorous. For now.
The extra space, however, is something that’ll never get old. My book collection was overwhelming our thin apartment, spilling over onto the floor, under the bed, into the sock drawer.
We have another load of Ikea shelves on the way, so the rest of my excellent books (and most of my regular books) should find a place on a shelf by early next week. Maybe it’s the OCD in me, but I feel more at peace when everything has its own home. Especially the nice things like my Carver Cathedrals 1st edition.
If you have a book collection to share, I’d love to put it up here in a gallery of fellow book collectors’ shelves sort of thing. It’s almost like snooping around a stranger’s house for me: a rare treat that sends a shiver up my spine. Send a picture of your shelves to bill at insultedbyauthors and I’ll add whatever you’d like in the caption.
Friends’ Book Collections!
Our first book collection comes from “Win” M. from John’s Hopkins School of Kicking Ass and Sending Me Emails. Win writes:
Thought I’d share my collection. No fancy editions. I like my books new so that i can take notes in them and make them my own. My primary categories are Fiction, Philosophy, Politics, Economics, Foreign Policy, History and graphic novels. I have a strong preference for modernists and ‘canonical’ works, much to the ire of everyone else in the English department back in undergrad.
Win’s next bookshelf looks to be filled with text books, non-fiction, and texts on war, sociology, and lots of other stuff that I probably should be reading.
Thanks for writing, Win! Your bookshelves honor us. SALUTE!
Our next book shelf comes from Jose G., who appears to be studying Chinese culture and poetry. Maybe Chinese poetry?
Next is Alexandra H.’s collection, with a pretty cascading style, excellent tchotchkes (no bookshelf looks truly lived-in without them), and a cool old camera. I think we could play “I SPY” all day with her collection. Well played, Alexandra!
I grew up in the Pacific Northwest. I miss seeing pine cones at all, let alone cones the size of a baby’s head like the one on Alexanda’s shelf.