Of course bookshelves are the best kind of shelves, but I have to admit that I’m nosy and like to see what people put on any kind of shelves. Here are some shelves where you can proudly display your favourite things.
I was planning to write the second part of ‘What is indie on my bookshelf’, with a focus on poetry presses, but I saw this bookish tag on Eleanor Franzen’s blog and thought it looked like too much fun to miss out. I’ve long since stopped tagging people, like I used to do in my early days of blogging, because I know so many people hate it. But if you would like to join in, I would love to read your posts!
Last Book I Gave Up On: I feel a bit mean saying this, as it wasn’t bad, but it was Amanda Craig’s The Golden Rule. I suppose it’s because I was reading it as a respite from The Brothers Karamazov in December, and it just felt too long and like too much of a trudge to be a real respite.
Last Book I Re-Read: Dazai Osamu’s No Longer Human in a new translation, but also reread big chunks of the old translation for comparison. It was great to reconnect with an old favourite – remind me to reread things more often!
Last Book I Bought: Just yesterday I ordered Appius and Virginia by G.E. Trevelyan, because someone on Twitter recommended it after I said I’d finished reading Bear by Marian Engel. It’s about a woman who adopts and raises an orang-utan as a human baby. I didn’t read We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves when it came out a few years back and was the subject of avid debates, but this seems in a similar (albeit earlier) vein.
Last Book I Said I Read But Didn’t: I don’t usually do this, as I feel no shame in not having read something (after all, I read so much already, and have other things to do as well). But if I would do it, it would probably be one of those latest bestsellers like The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman. (I do have it on my Kindle though, and I will be reading it for our Virtual Crime Book Club this month.)
Last Book I Wrote In The Margins Of: I haven’t done that in years – I use little post-it flags or highlight text on my Kindle. But a lot of my anthropology textbooks feature my scribbles and underlinings, including Ritual, Politics and Power by David Kertzer, which I still remember fondly.
Last Book That I Had Signed: I’m not sure, but I can remember one book which I failed to get signed at the last live event I attended on the 27th of February 2020, a literary event organised by the LRB Review and Bookshop in London: Anne Enright talking about her latest novel Actress. It was a really fun evening – Enright is hugely entertaining and acerbic in public – but there was too much of a queue for the signing and I was with a friend, so we decided to leave.
Last Book I Lost: You can imagine that with so many international moves and having personal libraries in at least 5 different locations across three different countries at one point, things have got lost. I’m trying to resist the temptation to replace all of my Japanese authors library, which I so painstakingly brought over from Japan in my luggage, because I still believe that my parents will have kept them. However, I do know that they gave away a whole chunk of my Japanese language courses, dictionaries and other materials a few years back.
Last Book I Had To Replace: See above about what the dangers of having left behind an entire library in a different country does to you. I finally decided that I couldn’t wait until my parents found and shipped over To the Lighthouse by Virginia Woolf to me (I had her complete works and diaries, and most of them have followed me wherever I went in my adult life, but somehow this one stayed behind). In fact, I missed it so much that I bought it twice, so now I have two handsome editions of it on my bedside table where my favourite authors live.
Last Book I Argued Over: I wouldn’t exactly call it an argument, because I enjoy hearing what other people think about books, whether they disagree with me or not. One book that seemed to divide opinion among our Shadow Young Writer of the Year panel was Marina Kemp’s Nightingale. Several of my fellow judges loved the French village setting, while I was a bit harsher and found it quite superficially done.
Last Book You Couldn’t Find: I have heard there is an old, out of print Anthology of Romanian Short Fiction, and I have submitted it as a ‘Want’ on Abebooks, but without any luck so far. I wanted to see what short stories were available in English, so that I could share them and finally contribute to Jonathan Gibbs’ lovely personal anthology project.
If (like me) you lack the money to buy a chateau large enough to house your entire book collection, there are some clever solutions for smaller spaces which I’m sure will work out slightly cheaper. Besides, don’t your books deserve all the love and attention you can given them?
I don’t need a whale of a house (although I keep dreaming of chateaux where I can make all of my friends welcome when times get kinder and allow us to travel freely once more). I could live quite modestly. But I would spare no expense (if I had the money) in setting up a fantastic home library. So who can blame these people for their extravagant interiors?
I wouldn’t mind getting locked down in any of these home libraries. Of course, some of them are fictional, but no need to limit yourselves to reality!
What would life be like if you had high enough ceilings to fit in a mezzanine? Here are some suggestions of how to go about planning and decorating.
Working from home has not been as peaceful and productive as many of us imagined it would be while we were cursing our commute, but nevertheless many of us are now hoping that organisations are more open to a hybrid model of working. A couple of days at home every week would really make all the difference – and would certainly be a pleasure in any of the home offices below.
I seem to have an endless selection of public and private libraries in my Friday Fun series. You can deduce from that where I feel most at home! Here is a recap of some recent favourites.
Academic and public libraries https://findingtimetowrite.wordpress.com/2018/08/03/friday-fun-public-and-academic-libraries/
Home libraries designed by professionals https://findingtimetowrite.wordpress.com/2017/08/18/friday-fun-designer-libraries/
Airy and light home libraries https://findingtimetowrite.wordpress.com/2017/03/24/friday-fun-airy-and-light-home-libraries/
Another passion of mine: stairs in libraries https://findingtimetowrite.wordpress.com/2016/07/01/friday-fun-libraries-big-enough-for-stairs/
Combining home study with a home library https://findingtimetowrite.wordpress.com/2016/05/20/friday-fun-home-libraries-to-aspire-to/
Really struggling to find enough things to be positive about this past week, which has been marred by headaches and insomnia. But as long as I have books, plays and music, it cannot be all bad, right?
- I tidied up my bedside tables and bookshelves, as the new purchases were interfering with my geographical shelving.
2. I donated a massive bag full of books to the local library, but I also bought books this week, so my balance is probably zero.
3. Speaking of mother/son relationships, I watched yet another emotionally gruelling play Mother of Him by Evan Placey at the Park Theatre. A play to make the audience think, laugh, cry and gasp out loud! It’s about a family (and especially the mother, who is being judged by everyone) going to pieces when the older son is accused of raping three girls in one night. It should come with a flashing red warning for single mothers of teenage boys – especially when the actor who plays the 17 year old son has the skinny body type of my own 16 year old!
4. ROH Live Encore at my local culture centre: Mozart’s Don Giovanni. One of my favourite operas, can never get enough of it and have watched many a wacky production. This beautiful Jack Furness revival of the Kasper Holten production featured a charismatic Erwin Schrott in the title role, a Don Ottavio I could finally empathise with (Daniel Behle) and an amazing if rather discombobulating set with video projections. It hasn’t quite dethroned my current favourite version: this ‘hipster edition’ live recording from the Festival international d’Art lyrique d’Aix-en-Provence in July 2017.
5. Sadly, I didn’t make it to this month’s writing group meeting, but I’ll be taking part in the Charity Write-a-thon we are organising in Windsor on the 16th of November. All the money we raise will go to Mind. If you do feel inspired to sponsor me, please visit my fundraising page here.
Maybe not just yet, not when the libraries look so tempting…