I’m a gal who loves her books. So much so that I can’t seem to get enough of them. My fondest wish has always been to have my own, private library. A room lined with shelves and stacked floor-to-ceiling with books. Books upon books upon books. I picture them in my mind’s eye: stacked neatly upon the shelves, arranged according to their sizes … or, maybe, according to the author’s last name. Perhaps there would be so many that they would tumble down off the shelves to sit upon the floor in madcap piles. There would be special hanging files for holding my anime cels, of course, so that they would be close at hand and, yet, still protected from light and temperature fluctuations. And I would find myself in my own version of bibliophile heaven, surrounded by my favorite things. In my imagination, it’s such a wonderfully magnificent room that I feel I might never have to leave it.
In some ways, I suppose I’ve achieved my dream already — at least in a small sort of way. Our home office has, over the years, become more and more my sole domain. My favorite types of art hang on the walls, which are painted my favorite shade of blue. My computers are here. And, yes, my books, too — every wall lined with shelves that stretch from floor to ceiling. There are even extra shelves behind the door!
Whereas the library of my dreams is expansive and massive, my current arrangement is better described as “cosy”. Like all the rooms in our townhouse, it’s small. And it is crammed to the rafters with stuff. There is never enough shelf space to go around, and it seems my book collection continues to grow, almost like it has a life of its own. My shelves are not arranged neatly by size or author or any other method known to man. I like to think of it as more of an organic situation. What this really means is that I’ve crammed and stacked and shoved books into every available nook and cranny of shelf space. My shelves are wide, so books are stacked two and, sometimes, three deep in places. Whenever I want a specific item, I have to dig around for it. Just about the only things I have managed to recreate from my dreamscape library are the stacks of books piled on the floor.
It’s a ramshackle, cluttered, somewhat ridiculous arrangement. In short, it’s a Hot Mess — like so many other things in my life. Sometimes, I think this office room becomes more and more a reflection of my own jumbled mind and desires. Is this a good thing or a bad one? I’m not at all sure.
I used to love watching design shows on TV. They’re great fun, and often a source of wonderful ideas for projects. But the one thing I could never agree with was how the designers always said one should either remove book dust jackets or cover them all with the same color of paper. And, of course, a person should never, ever display paperback novels. Apparently, the colors are too garish, the designs are too busy, and they clash too much. I can understand this. It makes sense. Book jackets are garish and overly colorful, and they don’t really go with anything. It’s impossible to create a uniform, calm appearance in a room’s decor with these little beauties popping up all over the place.
But, for me, this could never be an option. I love my books in all their garish gorgeousness. I love the bumble and clash of the cover designs and colors. Seeing them all together on the shelves — hardback and paperback — gives me a little thrill of joy. Books I have yet to read entice me with the promise of unknown adventures and worlds. They whisper to me of people I have yet to meet, but who can, possibly, become some of my favorite friends. And old favorites, stacked side-by-side, call to me, offering reminders of beloved times and places — journeys I have taken and treasured, times when I have managed to escape the mundanity of my daily life, and characters who, I know, will welcome me along for the ride.
Cover this up? Never!
And so, my little home office might be cluttered. It might be ramshackle. It might be dusty and jumbled, with too many colors and designs all in one little space. But, for all of that, it’s something else, too: a little slice of my own, personal paradise, right here and right now.