This morning I read a fun little exercise from a newly discovered blog Addlepates and Book Nerds via another excellent blog The Novel Orange and I thought why not join in! As explained by Maggie at ‘the novel orange’ the premise is straight forward …
Exploring My Bookshelves is a relatively new bookish meme hosted by Victoria at Addlepates and Book Nerds. Every week Victoria will post a new prompt, each regarding something different about your personal library. The idea is to post a picture related to the prompt for the week. Victoria also brilliantly came up with the idea of bloggers posting photos of their personal bookshelves for the world to see!
I may not take part every week but as I dug around my bookshelves this morning out of curiosity to learn what is the longest novel on them (this weeks prompt is ‘book with the most pages’) I was tickled to see it is a Barnes & Noble Classics Edition of The Arabian Nights – clocking in at 680 pages of the tiniest of text. Those of you who know me will not be shocked to learn that this book (plus many, many others on my shelves) has not been read yet. As I’ve touch on before I’m a book gatherer rather than an avid reader – though I am actively trying to make steps towards reading more of the books I have stockpiled! However, what tickles me about Arabian Nights being the winner is that it was another version of the book that started my love for Folio books. I talked about Folio books and my (minor?) obsession with them in the post “Accumulator of books” so I won’t talk of it further other than to say one day I hope to have bookshelves full of Folio books!
Although this edition doesn’t hold the ‘magic’ of a Folio book, I really love the cover – it reminds me of the Alhambra in Granada, Spain and the wonderful December day a decade ago that my sister and I spent pottering around the castle and grounds. The second part of the exercise from ‘Addlepates and Book Nerds’ is to post a photograph of your bookshelves … and I certainly don’t need to be asked twice to show off my shelves! I love my shelves almost, but not quite, as much as I love the books they house. When the hubby and I left the Southwest and moved to Ohio we bought our first ever home (neither of had been house owners before – thanks to being perpetually moving academics!) and to celebrate we each got to treat ourselves to something in the house. My choice, of course, was custom made bookshelves. And so we had a local carpenter make solid maple shelves that fit perfectly onto two walls of our living room. But I’m a smart cookie. I had him make them completely freestanding and screwed together (rather than nailed) so if we ever move I can totally break them down and take them with me! Whoop!
My first love.
I aspire to being a book collector. I’m sure my husband would claim that I am already a book collector given the rate at which new books appear on our living room shelves, but it is far too grand a title for me. I’m more an accumulator of books. I have a condition, an addiction even. I have a need to own books. To me a house is not a home unless it has multiple bookshelves stacked high with books. I find any and all excuses to buy new books; I need them for class, it’s for my daughter, it was buy 3 for the price of 2, it wasn’t my fault. I smuggle books in to the house and stack them on the shelves before my husband gets home so they look like they’ve been there all along.
Simply put I have a problem but it is isn’t one I intend to find help for anytime soon. I suspect my magpie-like tendencies started as a young child. My parents home was always full of books, all sorts of books from cheap paper-back copies of every Agatha Christie ever written to beautiful hardbound editions of classics from the Folio Society that sat on the very top bookshelf to keep them out of reach of sticky fingers. My parents started buying and collecting books by the Folio Society in the 70s and have done so at scattered intervals ever since. My sister and I soon got folded into the ritual of getting one book each from the Folio Society as a Christmas present and we loved it. The books are works of art with original illustrations and love poured into every aspect of design from the covers to the fonts to the slipcases. For those of you who have yet to discover the joy of the Folio Society it is a small English publishing house that started in the late 1940s to produce “editions of the world’s great literature, in a format worthy of the contents, at a price within the reach of everyman” (- Charles Ede, founder of the Society). It is run as a club and as a member you commit to buying four, or more, volumes a year and so it is an investment. Unfortunately, at this current point in my life, it isn’t an investment we can justify. But, to my giddy excitement, not long after moving to Toledo and on our first trip to explore the nearby Ann Arbor I discovered a gem of a secondhand bookstore that always has a stack of beautifully nurtured Folio Society books. And so, as a treat whenever I am able, I get to sift through the stack and pick one to bring home with me.
But why blog about this now? Well there is a two-fold reason. Firstly, this is my version of standing up and saying “Hello, I’m Morag and I’m a book-oholic” and secondly, the intent behind this site and blog is to motivate me to write and to send writing out for consideration. And it is working! At the very last gasp I decided to submit a condensed version of an article I wrote on the history of the Folio Society to the Mill, the literary magazine of the University of Toledo. I haven’t heard yet if it was accepted, and I’ve just realized that in my rush to submit it before the deadline I forgot to format it correctly and so it will likely be rejected. But it almost doesn’t matter if it is published or not. By setting up this site I pushed writing to the front of my mind again and I found the time around my daughters crazy (non)sleep schedule to pull something together for submission. Now I just have to do that again, and again.