According to some kind of tradition or ritual dating back to pre-Internet times, the first wedding anniversary is symbolized by paper. For two writers and readers who met in a graduate program for publishing, this could not be more perfect. Of course, I racked my brain, trying to figure out the very best gift I could get for Joe for our anniversary. My first idea was to create a book from our many g-chats and email exchanges, but alas, printing one copy of a book is very expensive (working in publishing, I should really have figured that out).
I ended up buying a few books at the Strand I knew he would like, and made a notepad featuring pictures of Chief on Pinhole Press. Luckily, he loved the books and the notepad and all was happy.
You may be looking at these pictures of bookshelves and wondering, what the hell…? These are our bookshelves, located in our bedroom. There are two skinny Ikea shelves that Joe brought from his old apartment, and one massive bookcase that I bought from the previous tenant of my apartment in Somerville and lugged all the way to Brooklyn. I may never part with it, I love them.
“Ok, yes, those are nice bookshelves,” you are thinking,” but why are there huge, gaping spaces? What’s up with that?”
Let me introduce you to our NEW bookshelves, courtesy of my very handy, sneaky, creative, and thoughtful husband. Not only did he build me bookshelves for our anniversary, he took the day off work so that he could buy the shelves and then spent the day building them and rearranging things in our living room to make room for them. Because he’s a sneaky genius, he even got on the subway with me that morning to go to work, going so far as to pack himself a fake lunch, only to get off the train at the stop after me and hightail it back home. Take notes, gentlemen.
I’m writing this post not only to boast about my new bookshelves or my dashing husband, but to also talk about the inherent questions that arise when you’re presented with brand new bookshelves. After years of stuffing books on top of others just to fit them, paying no heed to the semi-careful organization scheme we figured out when we first moved in together (merging libraries is a post for another time), it’s oddly scary to face empty shelves. How do you decide which books go where, and how they should be organized? Do you only put pretty books in the living room, where more people will be likely to see them, and stow the old, creased, and musty ones in the bedroom, away from the public’s prying eyes? What about favorites, old and musty and creased though they may be?
We’re still figuring all of that out, trying to strike a balance between pretty to look at and interesting to read. Isn’t that what all personal bookshelves should be anyway? Often the first thing I do when I go to someone’s home for the first time, obnoxious as it is, is to look at their bookshelves. It provides a look inside them that nothing else really does–a person’s bookshelves are a reflection of what they find interesting, what their favorites are, how they spend their time. So we’ve got to think carefully about these things.
I’ll let you know how it all turns out.