We have lots of bookcases in our house, and they all have their own purpose. The bookcase in the basement, for example, holds the baby books my kids enjoyed looking at when they were toddlers. (They’ve been chewed and drooled on and I still can’t bear to part with them.) In my office, I keep reference books, books on writing, and a few copies of my own novel, one of which is in German. (I can’t read German but I like just to look at it sometimes.) Upstairs, are three bookcases — two for the kids, packed to overflowing, and one that I can remember standing in my great-uncle’s hallway. That one is filled with a motley collection — leather-bound books I inherited from him and will never read, travel guides, novels and textbooks from classes I took. Dignified books all.
But it’s the bookcase in the living room that holds the stories closest to my heart. This is where I keep my favorites, the books I turn to again and again, the ones I buy extra copies of just in case. Some are high-brow, others popular, but I love them all. Divided into fiction and non, alphabetized, it’s one area of the house that’s always in order. (No comments on the rest of my housekeeping, please.)
Today there was a book in there that didn’t belong, stuck in by a small child who was using said book as a convenient hiding place for small treasures. It made me laugh, and then it made me think about all the authors forced to share space on my shelves, and how they would react if seated together at a dinner party. Amy Bloom is next to Jane Austen — the sharply observed witticisms that must pass between them! Nora Ephron — whom I imagine being able to converse with anyone — is paired with William Faulkner, which could be interesting, but I cannot see Marguerite Duras and Alan Duff together at all. (Although an animal heat runs beneath both of their books, so perhaps I am wrong.)
Who shares space on your shelves? Do they cohabit well, or are there some odd pairings?