PhiloBiblos has written a post summarizing the (hilarious) current debate on how to order and display a personal library. Thanks for providing all those links in one place and enabling my laziness!
Do I feel guilty about unread books? Occasionally, though the books usually aren’t on my shelves but floating around in my head or scrawled on the battered, stapled, ink-stained legal-pad pages that live in my messenger bag and serve as my current “To Read” list. I’m way too obsessive to use something like LibraryThing to organize my reading. If I ever got started with it I’d definitely feel the need to record every single book I had ever read. Because I’m a weirdo who can’t take it when things around me aren’t complete and in perfect order. Just thinking of all the books I couldn’t remember but urgently needed to record would make me a crazy person.
But as far as unread books go I try to remind myself that I’ll never have time to read everything I want, and that’s ok. As long as I just keep rolling the boulder.
Instead, what really makes me feel guilty aren’t the unread books but the library I haven’t got, unlike all the lovely ones being discussed in the above referenced posts. I’ve bought hardly any books within the last two or three years because it’s difficult to justify the expense, especially when I can use the library instead. I’ve also moved around a lot lately, between dorms and apartments and internationally. I reached the point last summer when all those books I’d hoarded began to seem more like a burden than a useful library. I didn’t even have self space for half of them. So I sorted out two bookcases worth of my favorites to keep, and the rest were farewelled in six trips to the used bookstore. The few valuable books I own went into a safety deposit box because I don’t have a safe place for them at home; knowing they’re sitting around while I’m away for long stretches makes me nervous.
So, I don’t really have a library anymore, or just a very tiny one. I’m a bad bibliophile! Sort of shuffling my feet and looking away while everyone discourses at length about the organization of their vast treasure troves. My time will come, I hope. One day I’ll settle down into my own apartment with a normal life and a dog and a lot of empty shelves to begin filling up.
Oh, and as far as the decorative possibilities of books, I’ll just refer to Mr. Bernard Black.