Monday, June 20, 2011

The Leaning Tower of Books

Upon further assessment as I talked about in Earthquake Weather, I did have earthquake damage after this week's earlier earthquake after all, it was just hidden or maybe it was there all along. I have stacked my books up against the wall in my bedroom. First it was one stack and then another, and then another. It was this final stack to lose its internal structure and fall down Jenga-style in the corner of my bedroom. I can easily place the blame for the fall on the earthquake, but the truth is, I have no idea when the cascade of books happened. All I can say is I noticed it the morning after the quake, the morning I was cleaning out underneath my bed, the morning I decided to vacuum my bedroom.

Having given my bedroom a spruce, I thought this would be a good time to put the bookcases together. Yeah, that was a good thought. It took me a couple days to actually spring into action. And truly what was the rush? The bookcases had been sitting around, waiting to be put together for almost a year now. I was certain they wouldn't notice a couple more days in the box. I purchased these bookcases with another plan in mind, I wanted to use them in my craft room for my knitting and scrapbooking supplies. I ended up getting a different set of bookcases for that room, one with bins and a desk. I think I was waiting for inspiration. I really didn't know what to do with these other bookcases. Suddenly, seeing the leaning tower of books, I knew what I could do.

Before I lost my job I was looking to re-do my bedroom. I was looking at getting a new headboard, maybe a new dresser and side tables, a whole new ensemble. Now I couldn't do that. But that didn't mean that I couldn't change a few things in my room, I just had to make do with what I had around the house. I had these bookcases-- what could I do with them? I decided to put them together and use them as a headboard. And as a bonus feature, they would double as night stands. I would be getting the books off the floor. I would have a new headboard. And I would have a way to pare down on the clutter in my bedroom.

I had four bookcases to put together. These were the simple IKEA particle board and laminate style ones. All parts were included, even a little Allen wrench. I needed to supply the hammer and a pencil. And the little man on the instructions shows you that, so it is all straightforward before you start. Since I have put together 10 of these bookcases before, I feel that I am an old hand at it. But what I have found is that each bookcase has its own personality. And putting these four together was no different. One went together easy as pie (what an odd expression, because if you have ever made a pie, it isn't exactly easy). I had no trouble putting in the screws, the pieces fit perfectly together, I was done in under fifteen minutes. The next one needed a little more muscle to get the sides to fit plumb with the back and I had to hammer in some of the support tabs. The third one, I had to fight with the whole entire way, and ended up with a blister on my finger from trying to get the screws to turn. By this time I had about given up and took Marlowe for a walk, hoping that the bookcase fairies will have finished putting the case together for me by the time I got back. They had not and the case was waiting for me. I pushed on and finally got it together. I don't know what the trouble was. The pieces were not in the mood to become a bookcase-- maybe they had aspirations to be something different--a dining room table or something. The last bookcase was a breeze compared to the one before it-- maybe anything would have been a breeze compared to that penultimate one.

I moved the bed out of the way and arranged the bookcases against the wall. I loaded the shelves up with the flotsam and jetsam of the books strewn around my bedroom. And then I noticed the vast array of books I hadn't finished yet. Here they are in no particular order: The Ox-Bow Incident, The Complete Sherlock Holmes, Moby Dick, The Black Lizard Big Book of Black Mask Stories, Stardust, The Man from Bejing, Film Noir and the Spaces of Modernity, Live and Let Die, The End of the World, Darkness at Dawn, The Architecture of Happiness, The Fool's Paradise, 1491, The House of Sand and Fog, Heat Wave, Howard Hawks, To Hell and Back, Duplicate Death, and In Search of the Old Ones. I placed all these books on their own shelf, so I could finish them.

I noticed something else as I starting sorting the books. Most of the books that were left undone were within a chapter or two of being finished. I wondered why I moved on. I read a lot. And if I find myself with time on my hands and no book, I will pick a new book and start reading. That is one explanation. Another is that I will lose myself in a good book, and in a very good book, I find that I don't like coming to the end. It's like saying good-bye to a good friend. And perhaps, subconsciously, if I never finish the book, then the friendship continues. I know that is a rationalization. But on some level I find that to be true. I do feel sad when I have to put a book down that I want to keep reading. I want more, I want to keep turning the page, I want to keep on knowing what happens next.

Now that all my books are corralled and not tumbling all over the bedroom, I feel like I can get to the end of these books. I have the time. I feel like I am leaving things undone by not finishing these books. There is a certain sense of procrastination in not finishing a book. A sense that I can always get to it tomorrow. I never had the time to finish it before, well that was the excuse then. I have no excuses now. I like having the unfinished books together in one place. I will say to myself in a whim of willpower, "I won't buy anymore books until I finish these". I will say it. But I know it won't happen. I will try to finish at least one of these books before I buy another book. I don't want to have to put more bookcases together.

© pranaknits


  1. Another excellent look at life.

    I believe the phrase "Easy as Pie" refers to the eating, not the making of pie. Pumpkin especially...


  2. You're right! Pumpkin pie is especially easy to eat!

    And you're welcome, thank you for the comment.