The dust on my books is depressing me. Their disorder is distressing me. They are horizontal, vertical, diagonal. They are in wobbly piles all over the house. Next to my bed, the fridge, the television, my favourite chair. The new bookcase, delivered only yesterday, is full.
The edges of their classification have long ago blurred. Time was, you could see the fiction, non-fiction line. You knew where to go for Australian history, Russian history, Spanish history. Australian literature. Magical realists. Playscripts. All alphabetical by author. Of course.
It was great.
I am going to order my books by colour. Spine colour. It will be an undemanding order and will require little maintenance. I will not grade the shades of orange or black. I will not concern myself with their size.
The only exception will be the books which I brought home from my grandfather’s. They are sitting together on the top shelves of my new bookshelf. I am their guardian but it would not be right to subsume them into my collection. The subsumption would be an untimely assumption.
What should I do with the piles of Australian Book Reviews? Throw them out? But they’re so interesting to flick through every now and then. Here. Put them in this box and put this box in the studio to be reopened again the next time I try to bring order to my life. What about this patchy collection of New Yorkers and this incomplete set of Overlands? I don’t know. Are you going to read them again? Probably not. Do you like having them? Not when they get dusty and disorderly like this. Then throw them out.
Don’t get me started on the children’s books. They have a lot more books than I realised. Did I buy them all? I must have though I don’t know when. At Christmas time, and birthdays. But there’s more books here than that. They are unwieldy things in all manner of awkward sizes. And so, this afternoon, I have given them three homes. This shelf in the study for the large picture books and those two bottom shelves on that bookcase in their room. The very bottom shelf for smaller picture books, and the one above for the growing collection of novels. There’s four homes if you count the space I made in the cupboard for the board books. Next to the bag with grow suits and singlets.
Here is the box of books I am throwing into the recycling bin and here is the box I am giving away.
When this job is done I will be able to read my books again. It’s going to be great.