I love books. I love reading. I love words. I read books again and again and am always looking for a new collection of words to embed in the deeper recesses of my memory or to reconnect to a story that lingers.
There are two types of true book people: bibliophiles and bookworms. The two are not always the same. Bibliophiles love the book: the look, the feel, the smell and the history as much as the content and collect them for their aesthetics, whereas a bookworm is more interested in the content and collects the book because they loved the story. There’s a whole other debate I will tackle one day about digital versus print books, but right now let’s talk about the book collector and how you store and categorise the books you love.
Should books be shelved randomly, by size or cover colour, alphabetically or by genre? Do you have a large To Be Read pile that sits on the floor? Do you put similar authors together or are you a strict alpha person?
I had to think about my reasoning in shelving the books in our household. Because of the bookshelf space I have most of my books shelved by size. Smaller at the top and larger at the bottom. I think this placement has something to do with the weight issue but also the aesthetics of the bookcase. But, I also shelve books in categories.
All my other-half’s books on sports and politics are shelved together (they tend to be larger books anyway and sit towards the bottom). My novels, historical fiction, art and music books sit side by side higher up, which considering he is taller than me and I often have to get a step stool seems illogical, but that’s the way it is. I keep my novels by the same author together.
The cross-over books that we both read linger somewhere between the two. I don’t keep piles of books on the floor anywhere – they look untidy to me and I can’t stand mess. Maybe two or three, beside my bed or on my side table depending on what I’m reading at the time, but that’s it.
So, I wonder am I a bibliophile and keep books for the love of the book, or a bookworm who loves reading and likes to keep books to read again? I think I’m both in some ways. I do have books I keep because I love the story and want to return to visit my friends, the characters, at their place in their time, but I also keep books just for their beauty. The cover I like, the old leather and hand stamped lettering, the weight of the paper and so many more things that keep books on my shelf for no other reason.
When I find a paragraph like this one below, I know why I keep books. I found these sentences in a book I picked up by chance, but to me they epitomised everything I feel about words.
…I was spellbound. There is something about words. In expert hands, manipulated deftly, they take you prisoner. Wind themselves around you like spider silk, and when you are so enthralled you cannot move, they pierce your skin, enter your blood, numb your thoughts. Inside you they work their magic (Diane Setterfield: The Thirteenth Tale).
By Vicky Adin,