“What do you want for your birthday?”
This is a delightful question I go crazy answering every year. Depending on who it is coming from, the answers naturally vary.
Usually, my first thought is—I have everything. What could I possibly want? This is a good thing, and my Mom thought it was a great attitude. But after that first thought, there is always a jumble of thoughts flooding in.
Lots of people have asked me this question over the years, and this year, it has become just two—my son and husband.
Again, I had some thinking to do as I really can’t figure out what I want. Yes, “want,” because my folks get annoyed when I think of “need”. I guess, over the years, I’ve focused more on what we need as a family.
After a long phone call with my son, once again, I mulled over what I wanted. One recurring theme I recognized over the past few years was something to do with books. For at least three birthdays in the past ten years, I’ve bought bookshelves. And this year, history must repeat itself because we need two more, what with our growing collection. We do have a few, but some of them are open and oh, the dusting—gah!
This year the what-do-you-want-for-your-birthday question was easy to answer. Bookshelves!
Having decided this, I set about window shopping. There were two things. Should I get them made to order or just buy a ready-to-use?
I must tell you, it is pure torture to Google bookshelves, because that brings up so many gorgeous options that it is easy to just go crazy. I succumbed. One of the sites that caught my eye was hudsonfurniture.com.au and I got carried away by their range. This particular piece caught my eye, mostly because I already have something similar, and thought it would be a good addition for the room in which I am planning the bookshelves.
Books are our greatest treasure—at least in my family.
During my childhood, our ancestral home was a sprawling bungalow with two outhouses—all set amidst lovingly tended gardens. My great grandmother and her children, and their children all lived in this house. There was an entire floor in the house dedicated to books. I need hardly mention that everyone was quite well-read and voracious bookworms.
This floor was just like a library, with rows and rows of ceiling-high shelves with books, all arranged by topic/title/genre/language/age. There were some tables with chairs around them, for those who wished to use reference books. There were also huge window sills with seating space where one could settle with a book or look out of the window and dream. A huge desk sat at the entrance, with a register where family members had to make an entry, mentioning book borrowed/returned. The two younger generations took turns to manage the desk and also maintain the library, and I remember how strict one of them was, and the kids were terrified of him. Defaulters were actually punished, with chores. So it was a win-win all around, although I am sure that’s not the way the ones who had extra chores viewed it. There was lots to do: stock-taking, checking the condition of the books, putting dust covers on valuable books, adding to the library, shopping for those books, and of course, cleaning the “library”.
As I enjoy past memories, I recall how, when my Mom was alive, we constantly fantasized about various what-if situations and one of them was converting one wall in her room into a massive bookshelf. I am hoping this is that year—it will be a dream come true.
Right now we’ve got stacks of books sitting on top of boxes of books, in front of our existing bookshelf waiting to find a home. Also, I might possibly acquire more books from my father-in-law’s collection (YAY!) and I thought it a good idea to have a place for them to come home to, instead of a random temporary spot. Right now, I have stacks of books all over the house, tucked away on any shelf space currently available. I’ve spared the dining table, though, only because it is weird to see a pile of books jostling with fruits.
I like the idea of a bookshelf with glass shelves and closed cupboard space below. With two mathematicians in the house, there are a lot of subject books. A. LOT. There are also stacks and stacks of papers that cannot be placed upright like books and need a flat surface—and that’s where the closed cupboards will help.
The glass covered shelves are my favorite part though: I really enjoy arranging and rearranging the books with my miniature collections adorning the space in front of the books. My husband is not a fan of putting anything in the bookshelves other than his books, though. My son is also minimalist and is super-organized with his collection and knows exactly where to find any book he wants.
So, I am looking forward to many joyous hours, making the space for the bookshelves and then—filling them up.
Do you love books?
Who is your favorite author?