Thursday, April 27, 2006

Confessions of a Biblio

Arranging books is a lot like arranging flowers. You can group them by author and title (also known as "the boring way"), but it's rather fun to come up with creative groupings that would make people laugh.

If, that is, people ever came over to see them, which they never can, because your apartment is such a disorderly, filthy, cluttered mess that you can't possibly have company.

It was with the aim of solving this particular problem that I came up with the brilliant solution of moving a couple of bookcases, then scootching my entire living room wall arrangement about two feet closer to the window. It really opens up the space and is a more efficient arrangement of everything. Of course this involves de-shelving a lot of books so that the cases are light enough to move, then reshelving everything, which is the fun part.

My copy of The Sensuous Woman (inherited from my mom) usually ends up next to Dr. Spock's Baby and Child Care, following the shopping-mall logic that always places Motherhood Maternity stores right next to a Frederick's of Skankville. There's also a Bellydancing for Beginners paperback Mom picked up in the mid-seventies. That one's now nestled cozily against a tattered old copy of How to Win Friends and Influence People, by some Carnegie or other. (It should really be a shorter book: Be insanely wealthy, and before you know it someone will come along and name a famous building after you. How hard is that?)

A copy of the script of Hair pairs nicely with a history of the Vietnam War.

I wasn't sure where to put Fear of Flying; right now it's next to Miss Manners' Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior, which probably isn't too comfortable for either one of them; but in books as in flowers, a little contrast can have a nice dramatic effect.

Authors by whom there are several books are fairly conventionally grouped together, although I did think of doing a dates-only section and grouping 1984 with 2001: A Space Odyssey. I could still do it; I'd have to put them with my high school yearbooks, all of which are identified only by a year stamped in relief on the spine and cover. But then I'd have Animal Farm floating around all by itself. I guess I could put it next to French for Cats.

My "classics" are only enough to fit on one shelf with slight overspillage. Does anybody want my copy of Madame Bovary? I hated that book. Close to the end, I was practically chanting, "Eat the arsenic! Eat the arsenic!" I have no particular problem with adultery, especially under Emma's circumstances; but running your family into financial ruin buying curtains?? Get it over with, for heaven's sake.

If they'd been contemporaries, do you suppose Jane Austen, Machiavelli, and Ken Kesey would have been pals?

Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett share a shelf, though I'm a little uneasy about it. I do like Pratchett, really; but still I can't help feeling that Douglas is slumming a bit. I hope he doesn't mind.

The science fiction collection, such as it is, runs more or less chronologically: H.G. Wells to Arthur C. Clarke to Isaac Asimov to Anne McCaffrey to Kurt Vonnegut to Larry Niven. I have some shelf space here, so recommendations for further purchases are welcome. But no fanfic!

There's a Bible, counterweighted with Isaac Asimov's Guide to the same. Incidentally, I can't recommend the latter volume highly enough - very scholarly and very fascinating. And that reminds me, in this month's National Geographic there's a very interesting article on some gospel manuscripts rejected by the early Christian Church, including a Gospel of Judas, with some really fascinating ideas: it's Gnostic in philosophy, and includes the idea that Judas was selected by Jesus to assist in carrying out Jesus' destiny because he alone truly understood Jesus' teachings. They're working on restoring and translating the manuscript and the website will be updated with findings.

I also discovered that the 1968 edition of the Encyclopaedia Britannica has roaches! Eeeewwwwww! And not even in the proper section, but all over inside the bookcase behind the volumes. They like the old glue. Thank goodness those nice heavy books make good bug squishers, and the handsome faux leather covers wipe clean with a damp cloth.

Anyway, I have got to go and finish cleaning up, so that I can have an exterminator come in without dying of embarrassment. I hope I get one who's into books.


At April 28, 2006 10:59 AM, Blogger Bainwen Gilrana said...

I think I like your book collection very much! :-)

At April 28, 2006 5:33 PM, Blogger Bill D said...

But where is your copy of a printout of my blog? ;)


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