Filling the New Bookcase

John and I moved into our North Carolina house five and a half years ago. We loved everything about the house except for one thing: it had no bookshelves. 4500 square feet and not a single bookshelf? Being  bookaholics, it was hard for us to believe–and even harder to deal with. We bought bookcases and scattered them here and there throughout the house and we decided we would have a wall of shelves built in our bedroom. But time and finances got in the way and we bought a cheapy folding bookshelf from Target to hold us over. We never guessed that rickety little shelf would have to serve us for more than five years. Now, though, we finally have our real bookshelves, and tonight I began filling them with boxes of books. 

I’m a declutterer. I actually get rid of stuff–clothes, furniture, knick knacks, and yes, even books. I donate everything to charity. This means I actually don’t have an overabundance of books, but the ones I do have are precious to me. I keep the ones that have touched me in some way and the books written by my friends (often one and the same). Most precious of all are those books that influenced me when I was first writing. I’ll never part with them: Alice Hoffman’s White Horses, Anita Shreve’s Eden Close, Anne Rivers Siddons’ Peachtree Road, Ann Tyler’s Searching for Caleb, Lionel Shriver’s Female of the Species and many others. I can look at my own early books and see the influence of each of these writers in them. I’m giving them a special place on the new bookshelf.

Something made me sad as I put books on the shelves, though. I have almost no recent books, because they are all in my Kindle. I really felt an odd sense of loss as this realization hit me. Much as I adore e-reading, it’s forever altering the landscape of my bookshelf.

Tell me about the bookshelves in your house. Do you keep books? Give them away? Is e-reading making a difference in the look of your shelves? And do you have one special book you will never, ever part with? I’d love to know!


  1. Tracy Broemmer on March 3, 2011 at 12:02 am

    One wall in my office is a bookshelf-6 shelves, probably five feet wide, and all but one shelf is full. I have 2 bookcases in a basement bedroom that are full, and another in a second basement bedroom that has a plenty of room…My kids both have bookshelves in their rooms that are overflowing. I do have an ereader now, but it hasn’t really changed my book buying habits. I read library books and new-to-me authors on my ereader. There are certain books that I will keep forever, including all of yours! The one book that has had a big influence on my writing is The Deep End of the Ocean by Jacqueline Mitchard. It is on my bookshelf and will always stay there.

  2. Felicia Ciaudelli on March 3, 2011 at 5:44 am

    I have a way-too-small bookcase in my room and boxes and bags of books waiting patiently for me to finish de-cluttering my room so that I can bring in MORE bookcases and set them all up – my books are truly my best friends!I have the Nook for PC and read books there, as well – but I still LOVE to have a book in my hands – and in my purse, totebag, etc – just in case!

  3. Margo on March 3, 2011 at 9:08 am

    Diane, many years ago we had our carpenter build floor to ceiling bookshelves in our TV/Comfy room…we also did the same in Gary’s den/study…we both read different things so his den is filled with his favorites which include mostly nonfiction; however he owns all the James Michenor’s in hardcover. Our comfy room houses all my books and as you probably have heard me say before, I have 2 complete shelves called my ‘Diane Shelves’ since I own all your novels!!…once a year I go through my books and pick out the ones I no longer wish to keep and then I donate all of them…I will ALWAYS keep your books, Elin Hilderbrand’s, and Anne Rivers Siddons.
    I haven’t tried Kindle or E-Books and am just not ready for that yet…can’t imagine my shelves without novels!!
    My 1 special book I’ll never part with?…KEEPER OF THE LIGHT, of course. (-O:

  4. Gina on March 3, 2011 at 9:21 am

    Diane, your bookshelves look beautiful. I have wanted to do something like that for my house too. Instead, I have several bookcases spreaded throughout the house that I keep my favorite books on. I couldn’t possibly keep all the books I read. I give alot of them away to friends, library or charity. As far as e-books go, I only buy ones that I know I don’t plan on keeping on a shelf. I mainly buy books from the bookstore which, like I said, some I keep and some I give away.

    Among some of my favorites on my bookshelf (besides yours, of course!), is Amy Tan’s Joy Luck Club, Jeannette Walls, The Glass Castle, A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Year of Pleasures by Elizabeth Berg, Harry Potter collection, and every single book of Augusten Burroughs.

  5. Barb on March 3, 2011 at 9:57 am

    I have a wall of shelves in the Den with about 400 books. Since I don’t have room for more shelves, once a year I go thru the shelves to donate any that I may never read again so that I can make room for more books. Strangely the shelves always seem to be full. Some of the books I keep I have had for over 20 years and some where my mothers when she was a teen in the 40’s. I will NEVER get rid of those. Now that I have an e-reader and love it I suspect finding room for more books is not going to be a problem any more!

  6. Diane Chamberlain on March 3, 2011 at 1:16 pm

    Tracy, Deep End of the Ocean is one of my keepers, too. Gina, I don’t know Augusten Burroughs. What am I missing??

  7. Gina on March 3, 2011 at 3:10 pm

    Diane, as far as Augusten goes, some people “get” him and some don’t. He’s not for everyone. All his books are memoirs.

  8. toni on October 9, 2019 at 12:12 pm

    God no!!!
    I could never trade the ebook thing to replace
    the exquisite joy of beautiful books.

    I must highlight (ON PAPER)
    make notations, leave special messages for my children
    etc etc

    oh definitely…no….the printed words on actual pages have an ethereal synergy. soul food…yummy.

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