Susan Raihala

It's Not Hoarding If It's Books

I haven't talked about my bibliophilic tendencies lately because, let's face it, this is a stamping blog, not a book blog, and we English-major types can get a little carried away on our favorite subject and bore the dickens out of normal people.

Dickens. Get it?

Anyway, I'm a reader and love books of all sorts. And no, I'm not a snob about paper books. If you have an e-reader (mine's a Nook tablet in a delightful liturgical-red leather cover that's very satisfying), that's fine with me. If you only read printed books, that's fine, too. To each reader, his/her own preference. The world is big enough for us all.

It wasn't until I started watching Fixer Upper that I really thought about what books look like on a shelf. Joanna Gaines is a genius with decor, but she tends to cover books with neutral wrappers and use them as decorative accents. While the effect is charmingly coordinated and certainly appeals to my minimalist, monochromatic tendencies, the neutrality and anonymity of the books bothers me. What's inside those covers? Are they good books or mediocre books or prurient books or fiction or nonfiction or old books or new books? Who wrote them?

Those linen wrappers hide all that makes a book special. It feels wrong.

In a world where children are starving to death, I'm bothered by this. Seriously?

Anyway, My own bookshelves are not color-coordinated and artistically arranged. They are organized by subject, and the subjects include medieval literature (biggest section), medieval history (second biggest section), medieval art and architecture, Christian, classic novels, poetry, mysteries, series (including Jan Karon's Mitford books and Alexander McCall Smith's No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency), autism, miscellaneous non-fiction, and so on. This means I know just where to go to find a book. In seconds, that lovely tome is in my hand, open and useful.

I'm not so obsessive-compulsive that each section is alphabetized by author or title. But still. It's easy to find books in my house.

Did you know that during the middle ages, libraries organized books by size? Yep. Can you imagine searching chests to find a folio-sized book of Ptolemy's Almagest or a quarto-size copy of Bede's Ecclesiastical History of the English People or an octavo-size copy of Chaucer's Parliament of Fowls? It sounds like a lengthy treasure hunt compared to navigating the Dewey Decimal System or my own shelves.

Anyway, when I decided to make a card for my friend who started our book club, I made the shelf more reminiscent of my practically-organized shelves rather than Joanna Gaines' artful shelves or the uniform sizes of the library at the Abbey of Montecassino. Although I added a plant...just for fun and because my friend is quite the gardener as well as a bibliophile.

Now, aren't you glad I rarely talk about books on Simplicity?

Of course you are.

stamps: Papertrey All Booked Up (sentiment), Simon Says Stamp To Thine Own Shelf (everything else)
ink: various pigment inks
paper: Papertrey white
accessories: none
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