Only a special kind of book gets the honor of being placed on my shelf. Only those books that touch me, that change me and make me squirm with the overwhelming joy that accompanies a truly good story. It’s a simple ceremony, but one that I perform with reverence.
After I finish a book, if I own it already and if it meets the qualifications, I place it gently on my shelf right next to the previous one. Then I step back and gaze at it for a few moments, taking in the beauty of all those spines and all those colors and all those covers, all those pages that I have read and loved. I am hit once again by the power of these books, of literature in general, and I am happy.
My bookshelf is organized meticulously in a way that I am sure no one but me will understand. That’s because it is completely nonsensical, but if a book is even slightly out of place, it messes with my mind, like an itch I can’t scratch, until I put it back in it’s proper place. The sequence begins on the fourth shelf from the top, on the left side. The first book is Ophelia by Lisa Klein. It continues along that shelf and then to the one above it, then to the one above that, all moving from left to right. But on the top shelf, it shifts. That shelf is organized right to left (why, I don’t know). After that it continues on the very bottom shelf, where, you can see, the shelf is not full. The second-to-bottom shelf will be the last in my sequence, and after that I have no idea what I’ll do with all my books. But I can’t wait to face that dilemma. There’s no such thing as too many books!
The order is the most bizarre thing about my shelf. Why? Because there isn’t an order. It’s not alphabetical, not organized by author, not always accompanying other books of its series. It really depends on when I acquire the book, if the others in the series are out yet, and how full the shelf is. Because I feel awful uprooting books that are already comfortably situated between two others just so it can rest next to others of its kind.
I currently have 152 books on my shelf. I add to it anywhere from once to eight times a month, depending on my financial situation at the time and the abundance of my mailbox. When I lend books out, I keep a sharp eye on the temporary keeper of my beloved books and make sure I’m not missing them for too long, for both my books and I have separation anxiety. They are my children, my babies, my loves, my favorite objects in the world. Food, water, oxygen? Whatever. Books?