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19 February 2012

'Keeping my Books Clean & Tidy'

I wasn't going to say anything about this issue because dirt and dust do not lend themselves to discussion; what is there to discuss?  You should keep your home clean.  Right.  Books are part of your home, so they should be clean and tidy.  Right.  So much for theory and logic.  Dusting books, in practice, is one of the most difficult tasks I know for several reasons.

1. I hate dusting... not just books, though.

2. Books are exceptionally good at attracting dust, I would argue even better than the television.

3. Once I start dusting I stop on account of picking books up and obviously opening a few to have a look, you know, just in case the letters have moved about...rather like when I rush to the bank before it closes (on an errand for Honey) and I bump into a friend I haven't seen in ages... right in front of my favorite coffee place.

Ok, so I am a failure at dusting, but excellent with coffee.  Eventually the chore gets done and every so often someone (thanks Mom) attacks it with vigor and resolve.

How about neat and tidy, though?  See, that is a divisive issue around here.  My beloved proof reader likes them all in a row, preferably arranged by size with no gaps or books haphazardly placed horizontally above a gap like a makeshift bridge between two old villages.  I, on the other hand, like a messy bookcase.  It feels dynamic; a bookcase that is constantly consulted and shuffled is loved, in fact.  Every now and then I discover something bought but forgotten.  It is like Christmas all over again.  A treasure rediscovered doubles in worth.

And it is not true that my bookcase has no order or logic.  It does to me.  I like to put Vonnegut next to Heller and Irving.  Pratchett is often near Gaiman, Mieville and Murakami.  Fforde sits with them enjoying the show.  Fannie Flagg is with Isabel Allende.  Chekov is with Stoker and, naturally, the Brontes.  Some authors and stories have an affinity in my mind.  Why not?  It is my bookcase after all.  I do keep all the works of the specific authors together with their biographies when applicable, so all of Butcher stays with Butcher.  Bradbury, in case you are wondering, is with Ishiguro.

My books are currently neat and tidy because my mother was just here and attacked them.  But there you are, real life amongst book lovers intrudes... I just bought seven new books.  They are big, they are thick, will they fit any other way but horizontally?  I know, the suspense is killing you.  Proof Reader (aka Honey) resigned himself long ago to MANY books but not the mess.  If he is really lucky his Mother in Law Dearest will visit again soon and clean it up.  I should add a sympathy button at the bottom of the blog for Honey.

So which system is better?  Too much dust and you are begging for mold.  Too much mess and you are begging for a concussion.  Too much tidiness and, as Honey points out, it looks great.  But, I can't find a thing.  It is frustrating to go in search of "Shakespeare on Toast" only to fail to find it.  Of course, the books I do find are clean and tidy... and utterly useless because they are not the ones I need!


  1. Anonymous12:53

    There's nothing that makes me crazier than other people reorganizing/randoming my stuff, which Mrs. Tack and The_Woman_Child do, in the DVD rack, continually.

    The ominous "pop" that sometimes accompanies stepping onto my loft/office deserves credit for preservation of the "integrity" of my book collection. Nothing says "No Trespassing" like the sound of imminent collapse.

    Organizing by genre first makes finding things easier, then size, with no regard for author, makes cleaning easier. Dusting would kill me, and merely redistribute the dust, if I didn't have a HEPA vacuum. Humidity control is 90% of the mold battle. (Note to self: cull ALL of Mrs. Tack's former basement collection, if she predeceases me)

    I only keep the best (yeah, right), but am seriously negligent in the culling process.
    Sound familiar? - Tack

  2. More than familiar. I have no culling process. Ok I lie, I often give books away, but just as often buy them again because I miss them. I think my husband has resigned himself to a library rather than a living room... though not without a fight.

    As for reorganizing...aaagggghhhhh....My mother is the queen of that. Afterwards it all looks beautiful, but like I said, useless. She also does it in the kitchen and in my closets. Last Summer i had to call her long distance (and I mean across continents) to find some Summer items and throws. She knew where they were, but how irritating; it is my stuff. Same goes with books, she and my husband like them arranged by size for ease to clean, but I like them arranged by my authors and topics... oh well.