Stalagmites of Books

This morning I was browsing Twitter while waiting for my coffee to kick in, as usual, and this tweet caught my eye:

“I am making a very important New Year’s Resolution for 2014: read more books and own fewer of them.” –@doughtylouise http://t.co/bKHxs8Jzx2

— Book Keeping (@FSGBookKeeping) 

I’m totally on board with the first half of that resolution, but own fewer books?? This I gotta read.

So I clicked the link and read on to discover the author describing a very familiar predicament:


“All around my house – in the bedroom, the spare room, the sitting room – there are interesting geological features.  This is nothing to do with the fact that I live in a Victorian townhouse in North London, nor to do with the clay soil on which it is built.  It’s because I don’t have enough shelves.

These interesting features consist of stalagmites of books – great wobbly pillars of varying heights constantly threatening to come crashing down.”


This is a problem I can relate to. Books are stacked on every surface in my apartment, two rows deep on the actual bookshelves, taking over endtable space where normal other people have framed pictures of loved ones, and fighting for position on top of cabinets that more rightfully belong to wine glasses and board games. Like the blog post author, I too can blame my mountains of books on my career – but perhaps it would be more honest to blame my career on my greedy love of books?

It doesn’t help that I’m an inveterate producer of marginalia. Sure, I could check out more library books, or borrow from my friends with similar bibliophilic afflictions. But I love scribbling all over my books – asterisks and exclamation points in the margin, long rambling (and obviously brilliant) thoughts and comparison on the back pages at the end. They frown on writing in library books, I’m pretty sure. And if I start marking up my friends’ books, well, soon I’ll find myself with no friends, just tons of free time on my hands to read…hmmmm, on second thought, that doesn’t sound so bad.

Anyway, you should read the whole blog post, because the author offers a nice and logical plan for accomplishing her read-more-own-fewer book resolution. Have you ever tried to cut down on your own book collection? Any success stories to share?

If all else fails, you can always loan your unwanted/unwritten-in books to me!

3 Responses to Stalagmites of Books

  1. Kellie says:

    I am so glad that I am not the only person that has this problem! I have a few friends who love to read as much as I do and even they would walk into my house and look around wide-eyed. I had piles of books in the kitchen, on the dining table, on the coffee table, on top of the DVD cases, and stacked on top of full bookcases. I’ll leave it to your imagination what the office looked like (let’s just say that you couldn’t see the cool stripes I had spent so much time painting on the walls). I used to just shrug my shoulders and smile about it. I mean, its part of what makes me who I am.

    I didn’t realize how bad it was until, due to circumstances beyond my control, I had move and I wasn’t going without my books. I decided that I was going to sort out my books into categories (haven’t read yet, not going to finish, finished but won’t read again, will not get rid of under ANY circumstance, etc). I did donate a few of the books I was sorting through, but not as many as I was thinking (I believe the final could was 10). I still ended up taking about five 30 gallon totes with me that were packed to capacity.

    I think my system was good, but I have a problem letting go of my companions. I can always find a reason not to give one away, let alone piles of them. I also know its only going to get worse. I’ve probably bought another 15 books in the last two months. They say that the fist step is admitting you have a problem. Hello, my name is Kellie and I’m a book-a-holic. Needless to say, I am not a success story. :)

    • Sharon says:

      Oh, yes, moving is a nightmare for bookaholics. My last successful book purge was before my move to NYC. It was sad and painful!

  2. Lynn says:

    Sorry Sharon,

    I love books, I have thousands, but I also like my apartment to be Zen! Everything has its place, even my books. They belong on my bookshelves in the library and not just on any bookshelf either! Self-help, cookbooks, memoir, all have their own section. Fiction is alphabetized according to author, science books placed according to subject: astronomy, physics, quantum physics…well, you get the picture.

    I do part with books (it’s hard, I know) to make room for more books, but only because it’s necessary. Otherwise, I would have books all over the place and that’s out of the question. No framed photos either except for 5 arranged in an artistic way in my feng shui apartment.

    Writing in my books? Heavens, no!!! Earmarked pages? Forget it!!! Wire hangers? As someone once said, “No wire hangers!” I can tell you wooden hangers are much more disciplined. When you close a closet with 50 wooden hangers at night, you’re not going to find 49 or 51 of them the next day! No fugue or hanky-panky going on with wooden hangers!!!

    What can I say? To each his or her own!

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