One Hundred Thirty Five Shelves (#135shelves)

I hate sounding like a broken record, and I’m sure I’ve written about this before – but this house is full of books. I also keep bringing in more books – and I’m not the only one guilty of that. Two days ago my father arrived home with two bags full of – yeah – books. Some of them are readable, yet others are just ‘interesting examples’, according to him.

As you can probably tell, all these ‘interesting examples’ make my library rather hard to trim. I’ve a metric tonne of books on Lenin, for example. Lenin may not be as relevant these days, but I do consider him vaguely interesting, so I would have left some of his biographies and some of his works, but the detailed accounts like ‘Lenin in Switzerland’ or ‘My Meeting with Lenin’ written by some odd bloke I never even heard about – I would’ve sent these on their way… somewhere. But the Switzerland book is ‘a really solid edition’, so it stays. Don’t exactly remember what made the ‘meeting with lenin’ book special, but it stays as well.

The only reasons I have a problem with the above are storage space and cleaning. Books are as fragile as people, they require special conditions that my dwelling does not provide. There’s a lot of cat fur and a lot of dust, and I simply do not stay on top of it all, I am not going to lie.

But it’s a ramble for another day. Today’s ramble is something different.

I realise that even if I dedicate all my free time to reading, I will never go through every book in the house. It’s not even a matter of interest. I’m a slow reader, and I keep getting distracted by new releases, by shiny series, by authors that are probably old but very new to me. I also consume a lot of other data – but even if I were to stop that and only read, my brain would be fried in no time. It’s actually a difficult and thoughtful process, reading. People who read like 300 books a year used to amaze me, but now I realise that most of them are just idiots. Sorry not sorry.

But I still want to familiarise myself with my library. So I’ve been thinking about this idea. It was half-formed for ages, but the other day, the day after my 35th birthday, I finally realised what I was going to do.

Ima go number all them shelves. This was done, as you can tell by the title of this post. Actually 135 is a rough number, because some shelves are half-full, yet others are triple stacked, and there are some more books on the floor in the living room – but we’re going to roll with 135. It’s a nice one. Niiiice. So yes, each shelf (and ‘shelf’ – i.e. a stack of books on the living room sill is, too, being called a ‘shelf’ for now) – each shelf gets its number. And every now and then, ideally every two weeks or so, I’m going to randomise the numbers from 1 to 135, go to that random shelf, and pick a book. If I can’t pick a book, I’ll just randomise that as well. If a random book is for whatever reason anxiety inducing, it will probably leave the house immediately, and another book will be chosen in its place.

But, hey, why so complicated a process for something so simple as picking a random book from a random shelf? That’s because there’s a lot of choice. People who are blessed with a lot of choice – with an excess of choice – will probably agree that this is both a blessing and a curse, because it can be paralysing. Whenever I go through the house with the idea of picking up books I want to read soon, I end up with a stack of thirty. And I’m a slow reader. I’m not reading these ‘soon’. It’ll take me a year, if I am diligent in how I spend my free time.

So. 135 shelves. Will probably start tomorrow, as right now I really need to go paint my face and run to a date with my auntie whom I haven’t seen in about two years.

As an afterthought, I should probably do the same with the 60+ pages of books on my Kindle. … And my other e-reader. And, well, yeah, well. Yeah. Let’s just stop.

Frankenstein. A book I’ve been meaning to read ‘soon’ for the last 20 years – and I’m not even exaggerating.

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