Friday, November 7, 2014

The Day the Books Fit

The Day the Books Fit is a new holiday in our family. I know so, because I declared it on October 22, as I slid the last remaining volume onto a shelf, with room to spare and TWO free shelves for library books. The dog promptly took a nap in the sun spot on the bottom of these. This is a really big, wondrous deal. No more searching high and low; either for a book or for a place to put it away. No more piles of books in too many corners and on flat surfaces. And the shear accomplishment of what turned out to be a serious project. Not only are there now enough bookshelves, but there is also an extra bedroom in a third of what used to be our playroom/classroom.

Here is what it looked like during the divide and paint phase:

And here is the bookshelf: (dang it, someone left Balzac and Murderous Maths where they should not be... just when you think you've got it all figured out!) And, if you see one that belongs to you on the far left shelf, second one from the top, that's because the gnome is guarding the shelf of "books that belong to other people." Please stop in for a cup of tea and recover your missing volume.

When I think that the first battle was just for the books themselves. I moved to France with two suitcases and about five books. I learned to read in French enough for it to bring the same pleasure as reading in English. I made good use of the library. I still missed reading in English. Trips back home meant returning with books. When a British book-of-the-month club became a possibility, I collected several; beautiful, illustrated books on European history and the Legend of King Arthur or Celtic Tales, some novels, but the prices were high enough that I wanted the Important Books (how do we ever come to these distinctions?) Later came and the world changed for good.

Then I had babies, and the need for books, I thought, exponentially increased with each year of age. I positively craved new books for them. I would read and translate as I went along, from French to English, which made it more of a story-telling event, not all bad, considered from a Waldorf perspective. All packages from home contained new books. Then came the need for shelves. Once the books began to accumulate, there were never enough shelves. Until now. 

 For many years, there have been books everywhere; on a closet shelf, out of sight, in a bedroom, double-shelved on every other shelf, in a box, in piles, on my desk, tucked into every nook and cranny. They have been almost a nuisance, except for maybe the one I use to keep my bedroom window propped open. I have felt badly about their mistreatment, and even worse about the cluttered look they provide.  Now, they have a home.

We began by really down-sizing our collection to the books we use as reference material, for schooling, or just could not imagine living without (like the first book on islands Thierry ever gave me, the complete works of Shakespeare or Anne of Green Gables). Yesterday, I even tossed my bundle of Cliff Notes. Let's face it, the new cheat sheets are on Spark Notes and beyond. 

Then, finally, we built a BIG bookshelf. Technically, it is simply a set of four shelves from IKEA. Making the space for the shelf to occupy was the bigger challenge. We gave away the entertainment center: TV included. With five children in a 4-bedroom house, the need was keen for another bedroom. My former "playroom/classroom" has been divided to make a bedroom on one side and the new room on the other. There is no longer a play kitchen in the space, though there are Legos on the floor most of the time and a table for drawing and writing.  We have replaced the large sofa with a comfy arm chair. I am looking for some bean-bags.

And the divider? Piano plus plywood plus paint, a bookshelf to one side (I will switch that one out for something that matches later) and the back of an IKEA wardrobe on the other. I will either paint a chalkboard or hang a painting of Paris in the space above the piano. I think we may have a library.

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