The book situation has reached a critical point and some sorting had to be done at the weekend. We just don't have enough book shelves and while piles work to a point, they have to be dealt with eventually. Matters have been made worse by the fact that we've had to bring in the boxes of books from the garage to avoid them getting damp and wavy, and now there are new piles all over the place and there's even more demand for shelf space. I keep wondering if I can squeeze books into corners and whether I could free the shelves in Tom and Alice's rooms - would they notice that their books were in the garage getting damp and wavy?
Although we have have books on books and books behind books and wonder if we'll ever get straight, I actually enjoy a good book sorting session from time to time. It's like meeting old friends again after a long while and realising how much you missed them. All those poems, stories, photos and paintings, all those wits, imaginations and interesting minds, all those words and images, all held inside a box of books. I immediately start making piles: must re-read, to be shelved, meh, charity shop. But this takes so long when you stop to rediscover what John Betjeman wrote about Exeter, re-read your favourite poems on the Underground, make a new crime section, see if a cookery book has a good recipe for Seville oranges that won't make your mouth ache, and find out why you kept the C20 Society book on Seventies architecture.
[An Interior with a Woman Reading (c1930) Anton van Anrooy (1870-1949), National Tust for Scotland]
At the weekend I also read Sara Maitland's article on solitude which raised some interesting points about being alone and why it's difficult for some people to accept that others are quite happy on their own, and why it's difficult for some (probably a big overlap with the first group) to be alone. Now I am quite happy to be alone, but not all the time. But this may be partly to do with books because a room full of books, or a book in a bag or a pocket means good company. So I'll keep sorting occasionally and do my best not to let my books get damp and wavy, but in the end I'll be happy whichever way they are shelved or stored or piled up because as long as I have books, I'll always have company.