Happy sigh. Now that looks and feels a lot better! What does? Well, my bookcase does. Our house is full of bookcases, some orderly, some chaotic, but the one that matters (aside from the cookbook and gardening collections) is the one in my office.
This is where my reference books are, where the signed mysteries written by my friends reside, where the record of my own work sits. It’s full of books that mean something to me, books that are useful, and books that I plan to reread someday.
The trouble was that when we moved for medical reasons two years ago, someone else packed my books, as I was at the hospital helping my husband. Then when my office shelves went up, someone unpacked them for me. I will not name names. But the problem was that titles were not where a person might expect to find them. As a lapsed librarian, this bothered me. As a former bookseller, it bothered me even more. As an author in a hurry, it drove me nuts. Oh sure, I know the internet is full of information, but I still like to get mine from books. I became frustrated when I was writing a comic mystery play this summer and couldn’t find my very few, but extremely useful, books on writing plays.
More than missing out on the right book with the right info, I felt that some books were like old friends. I just wanted to visit them from time to time. But where were they? Not where they belonged, for sure.
So this week with the launch out of the way, the synopsis for the next book delivered, the deadline for the book itself still comfortably in the future, I was able to find the time to put things in order. I don’t mean cataloged or even in alphabetical order. Nor do I mean organized by height or color. All I want is for my books to be sitting on a shelf with other books on the same or similar topics.
In my office, every book has a reason to be there. I remember when I bought some of them, back when I was starting to write. Others were gifts or books that changed my life in some way. The Agatha Christie reference books, the Dorothy L. Sayers novels and the collection of Rex Stout’s Nero Wolfe mysteries are earning their keep in the book collector series. Others are books on organizing from the days of my Charlotte Adams organizing mysteries.
There are guides, maps and Italian phrase books from the trip to Italy to research The Dead Don’t Get Out Much, my fifth Camilla MacPhee mystery.
A few titles deal with ADD, but don’t let me get distracted.
If you are writing mysteries, you need to find out about the strangest things, for instance: How to Cheat at Everything, a goldmine for the book collector mysteries as is Caring For Books and Documents, a British Museum publication. There are three baby name books, all well-thumbed. I love them because they give the meanings of each name and also the most popular names for boys and for girls for each decade, in the USA, in the UK and in Canada. It’s so important not to have an eighty year old Candee!
One of the wonderful things that came out of the reorganizing was locating books that I’d been looking for or missing. I was thrilled to find The Ugly Dachshund, a gift from a friend who knew I loved wiener dogs. It’s one of my favorite books of all time. I keep buying copies to give away. Then I turned up Anne of Green Gables, a gift when I finished fourth grade.
The book I find most irresistible? Nuttall’s Bijou Pronouncing Dictionary of the English Language, not quite four inches high, a treasure from my husband.
There I am, rambling on about the books I am so fond of. Consider that you’ve had a close call that I don’t mention them all, because I could go on. But enough about me and my shelves, what’s on your bookshelf that brings you laughter and tears or brings back memories? Are you organized or serendipitous? I know I’m going to love your answers!