Not everyone’s a reader, my husband included. But I, on the other hand, have been collecting books since I was a child. Over the past 30 or so years I have amassed a pretty big collection, and hats off to my husband for allowing me to turn our small fourth bedroom into my own personal library. Along one entire wall I have floor-to-ceiling bookshelves, and even though most of the shelves are double-stacked, they are already spilling out into the children’s bedrooms too.
You see I very rarely get rid of a book – I will happily loan them out to friends, but I usually ask for them back. The reason being that my books tell a story about my life: they have helped to define my thinking, taught me a lot of what I know, taken me to places I have never been, inspired pivotal moments and decisions, and been my refuge and escape during difficult or lonely times. That’s one of the reasons why I love to look at them whenever I get the chance, and why I want to keep them and pass on to my children some day (if they are willing!).
Over the past couple of years I’ve been assisting a PHD student with her thesis on the subject of digital collections. We’ve had many a chat over my book collection, and my attachment to it, comparing that with my feelings towards my ever-growing Kindle library. As much as I love my Kindle and the convenience of it, for some reason, there’s no comparison between an image of an e-book cover and the real thing, sitting on a bookshelf. Occasionally I will get the urge to pick up one of my favourite books and flick through, re-reading the blurb on the back and absorbing the quotes I have underlined many years back, but which still hold the same meaning. It’s just not the same trying to do this on a Kindle.
In my world, a bookshelf helps to make a house a home. My ‘library’ is easily my favourite room in the house. When I visit a friend’s house, be if for the first or the 100th time, their bookshelf is always the thing that I find myself gravitating towards. A bookshelf says a lot about a person. Browsing through one, I can always tell from their collection whether a person shares my same love for books, or whether their shelves are just storage for the tomes they’ve haphazardly accrued over the years.
And now that I’m a parent, I’ve begun collecting children’s books too, and most recently pop-up books for the ‘Pop-up Book blog’ that we’ve begun writing with Little I. It’s so important to me that I do everything to encourage my children to share my love of books.
Nowadays I rarely buy books new, unless someone has been kind enough to gift me a book token. One of my favourite pastimes is to browse through charity bookshops, as you never know what gems you’ll stumble across, often for as little as 20p.
I always need to have a book on the go. Wherever I’m going, I always pop it in my bag, just in case I get a spare minute or two to read. I’m completely lost without a current read, and with two young children, it is easily the best way to unwind once they are tucked up in bed. So I will leave you with a rather apt quote from Peter Knox, creator of ‘Share Your Shelf’ on Tumblr: “Only a bookshelf can truly hold the reader’s history and future at the same time, while the present is usually found in a book bag or on a night-stand nearby.” This is definitely very true of me…the ‘to read’ pile next to my bed is frequently in danger of collapse. And then there’s nothing more satisfying than finishing a good book, and finding a home for it somewhere on my bookshelves, where it will live with the rest of my cherished collection.
* This post was sponsored by Shelf Store, but the words are entirely my own.