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View Full Version : Living with books or What does your home library look like?


Skijumper
08-21-2001, 10:17 AM
I live in a three bedroom apartment. Two of those rooms I use to store my books and I am rapidly running out of space. Presently I arrange my books according to their subjects - mostly English lit, poetry, art and photography books. Due to the lack of shelf space, most of my books are stacked on the floor and I have to literally 'wade' through the stacks to find what I want. (And I always manage to remember what book's in which stack) I'm quite a neat freak when it comes to other rooms in the apartment, yet I don't mind my little 'mess' of books.

How do you live with your books?

dentarthurdent
08-21-2001, 10:23 AM
I live in a basement apartment. In my living room, at ground level (chest high) there is a shelf running along the two outside walls.
The entire shelf is lined with books. I also have a three shelf bookcase filled and miscellaneous books laying around.

Lyllyan
08-21-2001, 10:25 AM
I have floor to ceiling bookshelves on either side of the fireplace - jammed with books. There are a couple of boxes of books in the attic - all others I have to recycle on a regular basis - or Mr. L gets angry. There is also a stack in the living room, one in the bedroom, a couple hidden away in old purses, a box in my daughters room that I was hiding from Mr. L ("What! you bought MORE books!?") - and 3 in the car.

Zumba The Cat
08-21-2001, 10:30 AM
I have three 8 foot tall book shelves in an unused bedroom full of books. Some of the selves are already two books thick. These are books I have read and might get rid of some day. I have the top of my closet filled with books. These are books I have read and will never get rid of. My nightstand is overflowing with books that I plan to read.

I also hid stacks of four or five books in random places around the house so that my SO won't notice them. He doesn't care how much I read or how many books I buy. But he doesn't understand why I need to keep so many books. Especially why I need a stack of books to read in the "to read" pile.

Dragonblink
08-21-2001, 10:33 AM
My bedroom at my parents' place is shelf central, with books on the floor and on every horizontal surface. It's an eclectic collection too -- includes Gray's Anatomy, DSM-III (out of date, but hey it was a dollar at the thrift store), classic French lit, fanstasy/sf, dictionaries in about seven languages, various Pagan references, three copies of the Bible and a bit of Jonathan Edwards ... the list goes on. Most of it's second-hand, but between the stacks of books and the pictures on the wall, I've been told that no-one visiting my room is ever bored.

Huh, just realized the other implications of that last sentence. I think I need some coffee before I try any more posts today.

Dragonblink
"I think de Maupassant and Bester should always be shelved next to each other, they make such great friends!"

Athena
08-21-2001, 10:37 AM
Seems that all the newer houses nowadays have what they call a "formal livingroom" as well as a "family room." The last thing I need is a formal livingroom, so I took it and made it into my library. Heavy, dark red curtains, oriental rug, and one wall floor to ceiling bookshelves. Two nice cushy formal-looking chairs that are actually Lazyboys so you can sit back and relax while reading. A small buffet with a selection of single malts and cognacs, as well as a humidor. And a couple nice reading lamps. It's a very comfy room.

TroubleAgain
08-21-2001, 10:42 AM
I have 3 big bookcases in my "spare" room. They are all jammed. I have books overflowing. I have books in piles. I have books in stacks. I have books mixed in with the piles of clothes on my cedar chest. I have books in the bathrooms. I have books between the cushions of the couch. My hubby doesn't care how many I have, but he wishes I were neater about them...

Eve
08-21-2001, 10:49 AM
Ahhh . . . I TRY to keep to a "get a book, give a book away" rule. I do not always succeed.

Living room: Two largish bookshelves. One has the oversized books: art, architecture, movie, theater, reference. Also the antique magazines. The smaller living room shelf has the biography collection.

Bedroom: My grandmother's art deco bookshelf has the fiction, and the smaller-sized, odd nonfiction (old beauty and etiquette books, old city guides, more history).

Hall closet: boxes and boxes of books I can't quite bear to give away . . .

pldennison
08-21-2001, 11:51 AM
We live in a one-bedroom apartment. In the living room are two IKEA bookshelves crammed with books. On some of the shelves, paperbacks are stacked two deep; others are so stuffed with hardcovers, you need a crowbar to pry them out. On the floor in between them are several coffee-table books.

In the dining room is a smaller bookshelf, mostly containing cookbooks, but some other reading material as well. In the bedroom is another largish bookshelf, again stuffed full. We also have a few boxes of books in storage. I just can't stand to give any of them away. Whenever I try, I think, "Well, I'm either going to read it again or need to refer to it sometime, and the library isn't always open!"

missdavis102
08-21-2001, 12:06 PM
Athena, I am so totally jealous of your library - that sounds incredibly plush and dreamy! Wow...

My own library is my Mary Tyler Moore-esque convertible living room/ bedroom. I have six floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. The one by the entertainment center holds reference, computer books, art books, and video tapes jammed in two deep and two high. On the next wall over, three bookshelves hold my non-fiction: religion and philosophy, cookbooks, history, biography, politics, French language books, travel, family photos, textbooks, nursing books, journals, and my magazine archive. Finally, close to the sofa bed, are two shelves of fiction: a couple of multivolume great books sets (one from my mom's youth and one from my dad's youth), then the regular books alphabetized by author. In the study/ dressing room, I keep my kiddie books on the three big shelves over my desk.

Ruby
08-21-2001, 12:29 PM
I am also a "book junkie". Just can't seem to live without 'em. My library is also my formal living room. I have three large built-in bookshelves that hold probably 25% of my collection. The rest are stored in boxes in the attic. It's quite an eclectic collection...fiction, non-fiction, reference, bestsellers, history, religion, etc., etc., etc. For some reason, I can't seem to part with them :)

rackensack
08-21-2001, 12:43 PM
Since the upstairs bedroom that was our "study" has been converted for use as a bedroom by our daughter, and the fourth bedroom is remaining a bedroom so that we have someplace for guests to sleep (and somehow, we manage to have overnight guests at least a couple of times a month, so it's worth it), we ended up converting the least-used remaining room downstairs into a library: the dining room. We still have the dining-room table in there, but it has two end drop-leaves and three middle leaves, so it can be made pretty small. And we have managed to have large family dinners with eight or ten people around the table; it was cramped, but we managed.

There are bookcases along three of the four walls; about 100 linear feet of shelf space, plus another ten feet or so of space on the top of four of the bookcases. The centerpiece, so to speak, in the middle of the long wall, is the barrister bookcase my father built for me. One bookcase is mostly my wife's stuff, plus child-rearing and related matter, Judaica, cookbooks, and a few miscellaneous items. The next bookcase over has my science, history, political science, and miscellanea. The next bookcase is entirely fiction (with a few drama titles at the bottom). The upper shelf of the barrister bookcase is a little over half occupied with reference books; the rest of that shelf, plus all of the next shelf and a quarter or so of the next, is baseball stuff. The balance of that shelf is Shakespeare and Shax-related material. The bottom shelf is art, photography, comics, and a few other miscellaneous subjects. The next bookcase is poetry, top to bottom. The final bookcase has literary criticism (2 shelves), medieval studies (1.5 shelves), foreign language, pop culture, film, music, and a few more odds and ends.

The tops of four of the bookcases have a variety of other materials: pulp novels (Jim Thompson, Raymond Chandler, James Cain, etc.) and a few oddball items on the fiction case, a variety of college lit anthologies and stuff that didn't fit elsewhere (the two-volume boxed set of Keats' letters, the two-volume scholarly edition of the Arundel-Harington Manuscript of Tudor Poetry, etc.) on top of the barrister bookcase. The top of the poetry case is pretty thoroughly taken up with books on typography, lettering, book arts, etc. I still have space on top of one of the remaining bookcases; the rest are tucked under a low-hanging ceiling, so there's no room on top of them.

In the only corner of the room not occupied by bookcases, I have an old fabric-upholstered high-back chair that's great for reading, with a swing-arm lamp next to it. We recently had framed a group of prints from a set my wife was given in her teaching days: they're classroom posters from England, produced in the early fifties, each depicting a particular everyday scene, with as many everyday objects and activities as possible shown in them. The illustration style is very fifties, very textbook-looking; they're screen printed on a very heavy canvas-textured coated paper in what passed for bright colors in the fifties: lots of yellows and greens and fleshtones. There's one of a railway station with a very late Great Western steam locomotive that's in my son's room, a Devon seaside village scene (think Teignmouth or Shaldon) that's in my daughter's room, a London street scene in the living room, and in the dining room/library, an office scene -- a guy at a desk, with a stenographer standing in a doorway behind him, half-turned away from the viewer, in an extremely tight skirt.

I do have a few more boxes of stuff up in the attic.

Peta Tzunami
08-21-2001, 12:54 PM
Originally posted by pldennison
We live in a one-bedroom apartment. In the living room are two IKEA bookshelves crammed with books. On some of the shelves, paperbacks are stacked two deep; others are so stuffed with hardcovers, you need a crowbar to pry them out. On the floor in between them are several coffee-table books...

What he said. ;) Ha! There are also a half dozen milk crates stuffed with high-quality magazines and other (softcover) reading materials in the living room constructing a desk for one of our PCs.

And...I keep several (a dozen or more) books on and beneath my bedside table...you never know WHAT you feel like reading before bed--best to have a vast selection from which to choose.

slortar
08-21-2001, 01:07 PM
Originally posted by Peta Tzunami
Originally posted by pldennison
We live in a one-bedroom apartment. In the living room are two IKEA bookshelves crammed with books. On some of the shelves, paperbacks are stacked two deep; others are so stuffed with hardcovers, you need a crowbar to pry them out. On the floor in between them are several coffee-table books...

What he said. ;) Ha! There are also a half dozen milk crates stuffed with high-quality magazines and other (softcover) reading materials in the living room constructing a desk for one of our PCs.

And...I keep several (a dozen or more) books on and beneath my bedside table...you never know WHAT you feel like reading before bed--best to have a vast selection from which to choose.

Same here. I stopped counting after I hit the 500-600 book mark a few years back. Besides the stacks of books I also have computer hardware all over the place and various other bits of electrical equipment. In winter (which is harsh up here in Michigan), add protective gear. My apartment is one gigantic fire hazard. Wouldn't want it any other way. Books are my favorite wall decoration. :D

BiblioCat
08-21-2001, 01:08 PM
Originally posted by Athena
...The last thing I need is a formal livingroom, so I took it and made it into my library.
I'm moving to Athena's house! ;)

Seriously, I now have a new decorating idea! We are almost finished converting our basement into a famiy room, and have been discussing what to do with the living room (making it more 'formal', no TV, etc.).
I have wanted built-in bookshelves for years, and now I am determined to do it. The living room will become my library!!!

As for the OP, I have two tall This End Up shelves, and one short This End Up shelf in the living room, and all three are crammed with books.
I have books on the shelf in my closet, two piles of books on my dresser, and books in boxes under the bed. My To-Read pile is on the nightstand.

Corrvin
08-21-2001, 01:20 PM
1 buffet stuffed with hardcover "coffee table" books, mostly art stuff. Two half-height bookcases stuffed with gaming books and paperback science fiction. One half-height bookcase with a computer on the top shelf and two shelves of biology and chemistry. One full-height bookshelf of other non fiction and more science stuff. All these in the living room/dining room. One full-height bookshelf in the bedroom full of mythology.

Two stacks of books in the bathroom cabinet in front of the toilet paper. Three stacks next to the computer chair. One next to the sofa. One next to the bed. Bed has a bookcase headboard, so aside from my alarm clock, I have a short stack of books to put my glasses on, and the rest of the headboard is stuffed full of books, plus the top of the headboard has about 50-75 hardcovers on it in tall stacks.

As is probably obvious, it's dangerous to do anything but sleep in my bed. But...where would I put the books otherwise?

Corr

rundogrun
08-21-2001, 01:20 PM
For me it's not so much living with my books, but working with them too.

About two months ago, I switched to a new job so I could work from home. We took our extra bedroom/den/art studio and spent a few weeks turning it into a home office. As a result, we took down the shelves that covered one entire wall, with the bright idea of removing the double-sliding doors from the rather large closet in this room, and turning it into a little book nook. To date, however, this closet remains overflowing with fabric samples, ironing board and other assorted clutter, while the books are stored in liquor boxes stacked around the room, with me in the middle, trying to figure out where the heck to put them now.

I still like the open closet idea...but alas lack the time.

gobear
08-21-2001, 01:23 PM
I have two tall bookcases crammed with books in the living room, plus I have stacks of paperbacks underneath the microwave shelf. In addition, I have boxes of books stored at my mom's place that I need to collect the next time I go to New Orleans.

rjung
08-21-2001, 01:44 PM
I had three Ikea bookshelves -- each over six feet tall -- crammed top-to-bottom with books, with books piled on top of the shelves, more books on my desk, and still more jammed into other (shorter) shelves around the house.

Then, after I bought the new house, I decided to sell most of my collection, both for the money and for the reduction in moving hassles (*sob*). I think it was around 600-800 books, and reaped $300-some-odd from a used book store (which, fortunately, accepted paperbacks and science-fiction/fantasy titles).

I've still got about fifty titles around, but it won't be the same... *sniff*

The Great Gazoo
08-21-2001, 03:19 PM
The solution to all your problems.

I saved money by buying only a mattress - no box spring, no actual bed. I left my books in boxes and put a sham on top of the boxes. Then I put the mattress on top. It's a little inconvenient, but the shelves are full and the closet overflows with books.

BTW, it looks like a real bed. Maybe a little higher than a real bed.

This is after selling or giving away about 1,000 books at a garage sale.

CalMeacham
08-21-2001, 03:28 PM
A mess.

Downstairs family room -- five floor-to-ceiling bookshelves housing Pepper's books and my entire sf/fantasy collection. I have these piled two deep in each shelf and two high. I also have science and history and debunking there. One half-size standing bookshelf doubling as a room divider with mysteries, sea stories, and Disney videos. One half-size bookshelf filled with Penguin classics (and a few other classics). One half-width floor to ceiling case in the corner with miscellaneous.

Downstairs back room -- one built-in bookcase with technical books (science, math, electronics) that don't fit in my office at work. One floor-to-ceiling with Religion and Philosophy.

Den -- two half-size bookcases with books I need for writing (mostly mythology and classics) and Humor. Also a computer desk with computer books and reference books.

Kitchen -- floor-to-ceiling case with cookbooks and home repair books.

Living Room -- half-size bookcase for MilliCal's books.

Bedroom -- two full-size bookcases, one for Pepper Mill's books and one for mine (Richard Burton collection, more humor, James Bond).

MilliCal's Room -- half size bookcase with overflow, including a LOT of Time/Life books (Nature Library, Science Library)

Attic -- a LOT of boxes of books (my entire Plays collection, travel, technical books, more history, miscellaneous.)

Maryellen
08-21-2001, 04:12 PM
In my livingroom, an Ethan Allen mahogany unit, five pieces of floor to ceiling bookshelves. I keep hardcovers here (jammed) because it's sort of on display. Upstairs, a wall unit built onto one wall for paperbacks (several deep and jammed). Throughout the house (mostly in cellar), I must have upwards of 20 boxes of books with no place to call home. I stick loose piles in drawers, under vanities, in closets, under beds, in nightstands. In the garage I have two big tough-storage bins packed with overflow hardcover books. I wish I had room to properly house them all.

SteverinoAlaReno
08-22-2001, 09:38 AM
I converted half my (finished) basement into a library. I've got five bookcases of varying heights, four of which are filled and the last is about 2/3 filled. I've got a leather wing-back chair and ottoman, with a small table nearby, in which to enjoy my books. There is a sliding glass door out to the backyard garden, and off in one corner is my telescope. Much as I'd like to decorate the walls, I'm reserving all wall space for more bookcases.
One 7' tall case is filled completely with computer books, some going back to my college days of the late 70s. It's amazing how much computing has changed since then...
One 5' tall case plus one shelf on another case is filled with general reference books: dictionaries, atlases, old text books, books on physics and astronomy, etc. The rest of the other case is reserved for fiction and great literature.
Fully half of one bookcase holds "fun and games": humor, puzzles, etc. The other half of that case is cookbooks. The last case holds a shelf and a half of books on horse racing, and two shelves' worth of books on chess.
Why is it so organized? My wife threatened to start throwing out my books if I didn't get the library completely clean soon (this was about a year after we moved into the house, so I deserved the ultimatum). Sooooooo, I simply got things a little more clean than even she had anticipated :)
Oh, the other half of the basement? It's my daughter's bedroom. Right now, the two "rooms" are separated with cubicle dividers, but I'll put in a "real" wall and door in the next year or so.

elfkin477
08-22-2001, 09:45 AM
Originally posted by Athena
Seems that all the newer houses nowadays have what they call a "formal livingroom" as well as a "family room." The last thing I need is a formal livingroom, so I took it and made it into my library. Heavy, dark red curtains, oriental rug, and one wall floor to ceiling bookshelves. Two nice cushy formal-looking chairs that are actually Lazyboys so you can sit back and relax while reading. A small buffet with a selection of single malts and cognacs, as well as a humidor. And a couple nice reading lamps. It's a very comfy room.

Wow, that's almost exactly what I picture having when I own a house. Subsitute a computer workstation by the windows for the buffet with alcohol and cigars, though.