There’s No Such Thing As Too Many Books

Don’t do it. Don’t even look. Yes they’re nice and tidy, and I can see they’re tempting you with their possibilities, but you need clothes, dammit, not more books!

That’s the rational part of my brain whenever I walk into an op shop and head for the book section. Happens every time. I could need a million other things but somehow priority falls to wandering the rows of random. And random they are, because every store is different, and depending on the vintage of the volunteer who stacked them, you can be in for quite the browsing adventure.

Sometimes these pre-loved pals huddle together in genres: thrillers, fantasy, YA, general fiction. Oh, and the romance books reclining over there on their own shelf.

Sometimes they sit amongst fellows of a similar size; history, art, animals and other reference-type volumes. The kids’ books tend to play stacks on closer to the bottom row, but you do see the odd one sneak up to sit with the big boys. Sometimes there’s no sense of order at all. Occasionally it’s chaos. A bit like how my room looks now I’ve adopted so many.

Once upon a time mine were close to organised. Believe me they were. Really. I know current evidence suggests otherwise, but I did have separate shelves for separate topics. It was like a real library, only without the barcodes and strangers and hushed voices.

Exhibit A

See? Exhibit A: Organised.

But then I got more books.

And more books.

And yet more.

Until it all went to shit as far as order and tidiness go. The library grew but the allocated space didn’t. This led to some creative arranging, and the realisation that… order schmorder!

I mean there’s no rule that says YA fiction and military memoir can’t sit together, swinging their literary legs off the edge of the shelf as they survey the recent arrivals getting comfy on the floor. New age and illustration seem pretty happy together. As do fitness and medieval history. Only Tolkien and Hobb have their own shelves, testament to how much they mean to me. Or perhaps because they settled in first and no one else has challenged them (who would dare!?!)

Exhibit A

Uhh… Exhibit B. Yep, two-deep.

So there are no rules now as far as I’m concerned, and it seems to be working. There has been the odd incident of doubled up books (how did I end up with two of that one?), but that surely couldn’t be down to the lack of order (look, see, they have different covers…). At any rate I kind of like the adventure of looking at a shelf and not knowing what I might find. It leads to those happy accidents of intending to find out one thing and then learning another ten through distraction. It’s great for creativity. And procrastination.

More than that, it’s like I’ve brought one of my favourite places home with me; recreated the jumbled op shop charm of both new and pre-loved books gathered within easy reach. At any time I can sit and admire them all, just as they are. I can touch, feel, see, flip through, smell, taste (ok maybe not taste; that’d be weird) the rows upon rows of titles. I can be transported by the words, meanings, ideas…

As a side note, you might’ve guessed I haven’t jumped on the electronic bandwagon. If you’re on it, good for you! It seems like a bit of a 2D experience, but at least you’re reading. For me though, nothing beats a book pile, book shelf or book cave for seeking out reading material. It’s visual, it’s tactile, it engages all the senses (again probably not taste – unless you’re an infant with one of those plastic books that’s built for chewing on). All up, it just feels more real.   

And I don’t think I’m about to change any time soon because, for me, as long as I’m surrounded by books, life is good.


Now I’m off to grab some food before I starv- oh look, is that a book sale?