Ancient History

Follow Me?



I saved the books for last. I never articulated why, or spent too much time thinking about the dread that was slowly building. There were so many other projects to work on. Pictures to hang. Sock drawers to organize. I spent several days moving my toothbrush around the bathroom sink until it hit the sweet spot.

Toothbrush sighing in relief (I think it sat in 92 separate spots), soap dispensers filled, knick knacks turned 10 degrees to the right or the left, utility drawers lined with thick rubber for protection, Wiggles poster hung in the playroom, coat closet organized (an early winter would be a nice pat-on-the-back for hubby), and locks re-keyed, it was time to hit the books.

With far more books than shelving, my goal was to determine which books will live amidst the sunshine of daily life, love, and laughter, and which books will be sent to basement doom.

I unzipped the first box and began making piles. Here’s how it went:

for the self-help pile

20th century lit.

19th century lit.

18th century lit.

17th century and earlier.




Pregnancy (especially satisfying to toss right back into the box) and parenting.

Hmmmm, maybe I should start a new pile just for Jane Austen?

Sort, sort, unsort, ununsort, sort, sneeze (dust), sort, laugh, sort, unsort, toss in box.

Wait! I should divide the 20th century lit. into Beat (ask hubby), 1920’s, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, and all others.

Why are there two copies of Ceremony by Leslie Marmon Silko?

Then I hit the Greek vein of my book mine, which required a new pile. Edward Abbey. New pile. Annie Dillard, new pile. Dickens, Twain, O’Connor, Faulkner. New pile, new pile, new pile, new pile. Some small, some towering, all taking up square footage.

Oh, better make a new pile for the embarrassing evidence of my early-1990s addiction to the Novel du Jour. If I read about it in “Entertainment Weekly”, I read it. Anyone ever hear of The Circus of the Earth and the Air, by Brooke Stevens?

When I saw a box labeled “Books BR”, I knew it was from when we moved to the Denver Metro area 6 years ago. It had never been unpacked. As I thought about opening it, I had visions of Indiana Jones cracking open an ancient tomb. He licks his lips. Shifts nervously. Fingers the trigger on his revolver, makes some sort of memorable quip, looks adorable, and goes for it. I half-expected the air to hiss out of the box in a yellow cloud so thick it could carry a few surprised scorpions and maybe a rattler in its 10,000th skin.

No hissing, no smoke, and my face didn’t melt off onto the boxes, an eternal sealant for the Books That Shall Never Be Unpacked. Insert cackling laughter.

It is always nice to be revisited by the wisdom of the past. Six years ago, I knew what I was doing.

Clearly, I do not know what I am doing anymore. I should take a random sampling of the books, stick them on our limited shelf space, and smile when someone visits and says “Have you really read The Hardy Boys’ Guide to Life?”

Yes. And guess which pile it came from.

7 comments to Booked

  • rossmomma

    Sounds like a good project for a rainy day – or maybe several! On second thought maybe you could rotate them according to the season…

  • Sounds like great fun…really. Have you ever thought Dewey Decimaling them?

    Speaking of little known titles….I’m the proud owner of Disco Dancing with Donny and Marie (illustrated, mind you) and Pat Boone’s Twixt Twelve and Twenty, circ 1950’s. Hey, they could be called twixters now instead of tweens if Pat’s temr had caught on.

  • That sounds like a lot of work..again you are reminding me why i’m NEVER going to move LOL

  • Have you thought about introducing the Dewey Decimal system at your house? At the very least, it would be fun to see which gaps you’ve got in the numbering. I’ll bet your techie hubby could implement a searchable database for you (in his copious spare time).


  • bro-de-mopsy

    Not a big reader – but sorta sounds like my CD catalog – or maybe PC games…

  • Sounds like a project that would take me days because I would sit there and start reading a book. Or making notes in it. Or trying to decide if I want to split CS Lewis up, into childrens or fantasy or devotional or apologetics. Or just give him his own shelf and call it good.

    Have fun sorting!

  • Mine are sorted this way: favorite books in the antique shelf. Kids in the kids’ rooms. All others piled two or three deep in the big shelf. And things I’m reading piled on the beside table. I am so unorganized, but I know basically where to find them all. My new house has a room I am hopefully calling “my library” where I intend to, when I have money again, install great big shelves and sort very carefully. I admire your efforts!!

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>