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!