Saturday, 29 August 2009

The day my library dreams came crashing down...

Something occurred to me the other day. I was half way through unpacking my boxes of things I had shipped from NZ to Taiwan and the unthinkable was happening. I was running out of shelf space. And fast. I had brought nearly all of my beloved books nearly 9000 kilometres and I wasn't sure if I'd be able to fit them all in! The shelves had looked so roomy when we first bought the apartment, with the previous owner's stuff all gone and only space, space and more space stretching out invitingly in front of us.

Then I properly moved here and realised a few things.

First of all, I'm married now so that means 50/50 share of everything. There are two sets of shelves, one filled with my precious books, the other is filled with miscellaneous junk belonging to his nibs. But fair is fair. It's an equal partnership after all, and it would be completely immoral and awful of me to covet his shelf space.... wouldn't it...?

Second of all, Taiwan apartments are a whole lot smaller than New Zealand houses. You don't have the ability to spread out - at all. If you leave something in the lounge I swear it takes up 300% more space than it would have done in the average NZ home. So a place for everything and everything in it's place and all that malarky. Which means all of my books need to be housed on their shelves at all times except perhaps the one I am currently reading which might find a cubby hole next to the bed.

For the first time in my entire book hoarding career, I am being forced to 'double shelve'.

And it was the necessitation of this double shelving that lead me to my next crashing conclusion: I was going to have to be way more responsible about my future book buying. No longer were the days of browsing around and picking up a book willy nilly just because I fancied adding it to my collection. Oh no. We have fallen on hard times here, people. Hard times with no spare shelves. If I want to buy a book now I'm going to have to think carefully. It may eventually even come to the "one book in and another one out" policy.

On those lines I've already weeded out about 10 books that I know I will never read again (or haven't read and never intend to - like the Barbara Taylor Bradford that was given to me as a gift in Whitcoulls one day, its just not my kind of read) that I'm planning to gift to the Taipei expat community centre in a Bookcrossing kind of way (more info on Bookcrossing here). Which will be kind of fun but to be honest, I'm far to attached to ever give most of my books away. I've bought them with the intention of keeping them as much loved members of my paperback family and the thought of releasing most of them isn't one I'm prepared to entertain right now.

But then again - who knows. As more and more excellent books are published and I get itchy fingers in the bookstore.... well, they're going to have to go somewhere, and unless I acquire some carpentry skills out of nowhere then somethings going to have to give.

That, or I stage a hostile take-over of those other shelves!


  1. Hi! Came to your blog from your comment on chinaSMACK, and happened on this post after a quick browse. I loved it!

    In the two years since you wrote that, how much has your book collection grown? I am one person who refuses to get an e-reader, and have been hoarding and sometimes (very very very very reluctantly) abandoning (to good hands) books around the world for the last seven years. Every time I move to a new place I say, "No more books, no books, be VERY VERY selective over what books you buy..." and the end result is I always end up taking a suitcase home to my parents in Malaysia whenever I visit them, so I make space for more books. So I have fewer books with me at various times throughout the year, but my parents are extremely unhappy about the dusty library taking up a room in their house.

    Now that I am getting serious with a man and living with him, I realize that most of the books currently in storage at my parent's place will not be able to fit in our my home. Perhaps those books will never be with me again... a very sad thought.

  2. Hi Christine! Thanks for coming over to read my blog!

    Wow it has been two years since I wrote this and, ahem, yes the collection has grown fairly significantly despite my best efforts! Pretty much all of my shelves are now double stacked and I have bought a new bookshelf to help with the overflow. I'm like you, I don't like reading on e-readers because I love the smell and feel of books themselves. I don't have a problem with e-readers conceptually but they just don't work for me.

    Your parents are pretty awesome letting you store your books there! I have no other place for mine but at our apartment so I'm just going to have to find new and creative places to put more bookshelves in I think...

    I do hope you and your beloved books can be reunited one of these days!