Welcome to the inaugural post of the "home edition" of the Lost in the Stacks series that I've enjoyed sharing over the course of the last year or so. I've mentioned that I want to concentrate my reading this year on books already on my bookshelves, but I also had been looking forward to getting back to my "lost in the stacks" posts and continuing to rediscover forgotten but worthy reads sitting hidden away (but in plain sight) in the library's stacks. Somehow it felt a little contrary to my reading plans. Since my reading is looking more inward, why not my lost in the stacks posts as well? I'll take my turn soon, but even better, why not ask other readers in this bookish community to join in the fun and share their personal libraries and maybe even a forgotten book or two.
Stefanie from So Many Books kindly agreed to kick things off and allow us in for a peek at her enviously-attractive bookshelves. (Hint--if you click on the photos you can enlarge them for an even closer look at those shelves). If you aren't familiar with Stefanie she has been blogging since 2003 and is one of the first book bloggers I came across when I began blogging a few years later. She recently earned her Master's degree in Library and Information Science and currently works in a law library in Minneapolis. She reads widely--from science to literature to science fiction--and is an ardent poetry lover. She's even inspiring me to pick up a book of poems by Robert Frost this year (I'm not a good poetry reader, but she makes it so appealing I'm sure this is going to be my year for a little poetry).
So without further ado, onwards to Stefanie's answers to a few questions I put forth, and the best part--a book recommendation or two!
1. Describe your library/bookshelves. Are the books randomly placed or do you have them organized in a special way?
Since my library is a two-person library, meaning Bookman (my husband) and I both curate it, we have a loose agreement about how it is organized. We have fiction shelves and nonfiction shelves, poetry shelves and classic fiction shelves. The books on those shelves are in alphabetical order by author's last name. And then we have collections. For instance I have a collection of books by and about Adrienne Rich and they all live together--poetry, fiction, essays, literary criticism. We also tend to put biographies about authors that are on our shelves with the author's books rather than in nonfiction by the biographer's name. A very long time ago I had undertaken to create a call number system based on Dewey. I had it all planned out but never implemented it. At that point I should have dropped everything and gone immediately to library school but no one has every accused me of being quick to pick up on things.
2. Do you like to weed and recycle as you read or do you prefer to hold on to all your books?
The only reason I like to weed books is because it makes room on the shelves for more books. We generally don't get rid of books until we run out of shelf space. Then Bookman and I take an afternoon and go through our shelves pulling off books we read but didn't like much or didn't like enough to keep. They don't always take everything. The books that don't get bought, if they are paperback, we donate to the Women's Prison Book Project. We also give books away to friends and at the library where I work we have a book exchange that I will add books to now and then.
3. Are your books confined to one area or are they spread out over your house?
I think out books have feet or something because they are always moving and can be found in every room of the house. We have bookshelves in our basement library, guest bedroom, our living room and in my study room. But books are also in the kitchen, bathroom, and bedroom. There are also books in our finished attic. They are just piled up there right now, gardening books, craft books, sewing books, but we are going to "do up" the room this summer and build bookshelves and make a generally hospitable craft room. I think the garage is the only bookless place in the house and that's only because it's detached and old and damp. When the day comes that we finally decide to rebuild the garage, I suspect books will begin to take up residence in it.
4. How long has your oldest unread book sat on your shelves?
I am so very embarrassed about this one. The winner how to be Dhalgren by Samuel R. Delany. I bought it as a mass market paperback in the early 1980s. I still intend to read it one of these days!
5. What is your most treasured book?
I have two books I really treasure. The first, is my great-grandpa's grade school primer printed in 1889. It is all in German and on the front flyleaf written in lead pencil and a not bad script it says, "Willie Hollmichel, Janesville, Waseca County, MInnesota." The other book is Time's Power by Adrienne Rich. English majors at my university had to take a senior seminar and I took it on Adrienne Rich. The professor turned out to be friends with her and set up a reading for her at the university and then my seminar class took Rich out to lunch. I could have had her sign one of several books, but I chose Time's Power because it has one of my favorite lines in it, " A wild patience has taken me this far."
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?
So hard to choose! But I went with a trilogy -- is that cheating? -- by Martha Kaye Renfroe, otherwise known as M.K. Wren. Lost of people probably know her as a mystery writer but she also wrote an edge-of-your-seat space opera scifi trilogy called The Phoenix Legacy. Book one is titled Sword of the Lamb. Aside from it taking place on another planet and there being space travel, it is all politics and intrigue, good versus evil, love and hate, rebels against the empire. It's a real old-fashioned page-turner. Sadly, not enough people know about them because they have gone out of print and used copies tend to be a bit pricey. So look for them at your library or keep an eye out for them at book sales where they might not know what gems are being offered.
Many thanks to Stefanie! Check back next Friday for a peek into another reader's library.