Are you ready for a peek inside yet another personal library? Smithereens is a working mother of a four-year-old boy who lives in a 750 sqft flat in Paris. She's another well-established blogger who's been writing about her reading since 2006. If you're not already familiar with Smithereens, please do go check her blog out! (By the way--clicking on the photos will enlarge them).
1. Describe your library/bookshelves. Are the books randomly placed or do you have them organized in a special way?
OMG. I know where to find the books I want, but a stranger will certainly be lost. Let me try to conceptualize my apparent mess.
First, I make a difference between bookshelves (for read books, with a semblance of organization) and also piles (without order, for incoming books, gifts, TBR or library; and next to my bed there's the pile for the books I'm currently reading or just finished and awaiting a blog post). The problem is that the TBR tends to fossilize, while Mr. Smithereens apparently things that the turnover period for the TBR should be below one year (I don't quite agree).
When we married we merged bookshelves and that means that I've access to a huge number of books that Mr. S read over a decade ago that might or might not ever interest me (and which I regularly forget when I check books out of the library). The bookshelves are now family stuff with a growing children shelf, so we try to keep a loose order by category but as we have a tiny flat and a big love of books, they tend to outgrow the designated space. Also, behind close cabinet doors there's not order at all, it;s just double rand of books that have been read and that we want to keep - but it's very difficult to find some title you're looking for there.
2. Do you weed and recycle as you read or do you prefer to hold on to all your books?
Due to constraints we drastically weed out as soon as we finish a book (though Bookmooch, library donations or selling via Amazon if the book is pristine new), and sometimes we even decide while still reading that a particular book is not worth keeping. Sometimes, I even week out the TBR pile before even reading a book (when Mr. S points out that a particular book has been there for over a year and that I don't look very committed to ever reading it). It's very cruel but we have no choice. Books awaiting recycling are sent to the basement.
3. Are your books confined to one area or are they spread out over your house?
Mostly I'd say they are spread out, but we don't have that many rooms!
4. How long has your oldest unread book sat on your shelves?
This is highly confidential (ie shameful) information, and probably over a decade would be a close approximation (it's due to the post-wedding merge of collections). Shelf life for books on the TBR cabinet is 1-2 years maximum due to periodic nagging from Mr. S.
5. What is your most treasured book?
Very difficult question. I don't quite treasure books as physical objects (as you could guess from my other answers) but when I love a book I sometimes cover them with a nice paper. So I'd say the women collection that's presented in the picture #2 (behind the red clock) with in particular Anne Lamott's Bird by Bird. I found it by chance in Beijing where I used to work, in a place where my then-writing group used to meet. It's a very special memory to me.
6. If you could pick one "lost in the stacks/on your bookshelves" book to rediscover and share with other readers, which would it be?
I don't do much re-reading of novels (at the exception of classics such as Jane Austen/Jane Eyre, and Tolkien's LOTR), but then if I ever go back to a book for a quick re-read it's more a poetry one: I'd name Andre Velter as my favorite French poet, who is sadly unrecognized in the English-speaking world.
Many thanks to Smithereens for sharing photos of her bookshelves and piles with us (and for the helpful labels!). Check back next Friday for a peek into another reader's library.