Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Books Are Not "BAD" Around Here

When I bought my piano in 1995, the salesman asked me if I was buying a "PAF" or a working piano. I had no idea what a PAF was, and when I asked him, he laughed and defined it as "piano as furniture." You know the kind--pianos in the corners of photo shoots that are placed there just because they fill up a lot of room and they look spectacular with the lid open. My piano is definitely not a PAF.

We've all seen the beautifully accessorized bookshelves on Pinterest and in every design magazine, and I had visions of these images flit across my mind way back in 2007. The problem? "BAD" is not the way my family lives.

What is "BAD"? Books As Decor, of course.

When we built this house seven years ago, I knew that instead of a dining room, I wanted a big library--a room dedicated to studying and reading and housing all of the books that our family devours. It has dozens of cupboards and drawers and window seats for games and art supplies--and row upon row filled with the most delicious books available. Board books and picture books and chapter books. Art history books and law books and a few newly acquired educational psychology books (whose are those?). Percy Jackson, Anne Frank, Runaway Ralph, and don't forget Harry Potter--all living together in perfect harmony. Well, not really.

Despite my most attentive efforts, our library usually looks like this:
 You can see where a few vestiges of my organizing efforts are holding on . . .
 . . . but I'm fighting daunting foes. Add in Ben. At any given time, you will find at least fifteen books in Ben's room, all of which he's read before and he has just skimmed the shelves for an old favorite to entertain him for the day.
I had some time on my hands last weekend, so I attacked the library with a frenzy. I removed all of the tchotchkes and detritus and hidden crusty sandwiches from the shelves. I sorted the books and gave away over a hundred to a charity garage sale. I tenderly replaced a few volumes that have belonged to me since I was young--classics like Nancy Drew, Charlotte's Web, and Danny the Champion of the World--and I noticed that a few still have the pretend Dewey decimal tags I had stapled in their covers when my brother and I played library decades ago.
 I then spent two days reorganizing and rearranging and reaccessorizing all of the shelves. There's a whole section for classics and another for history. There's a shelf for parenting and a section for religion. The majority of the room is dominated by all of the children's/young adult books we've acquired trying to keep our kids reading:
Lemony Snicket, Leven Thumps, Ender, Artemis Fowl, Anne of Green Gables, Fablehaven. Tolkein, Dahl, Cleary, Blume, Seuss. And a special shelf reserved for Harry, Ron, Hermione, and the gang.

I know it won't stay like this for long, but all of my kids have expressed appreciation for the new arrangement. It's almost as if I bought a ton of new books, because now they can find something new, or return quickly to the world of an old friend.
Evie found the section of beginning reader books (which I just lowered so that she can reach them) and spent much of one afternoon sounding out words and laughing at pictures.
I guess I just wanted photographic evidence that it was organized like this . . . once upon a time.

As much as I love the digital world, nothing will ever replace the feel of the pages of an old friend in my hands. I love the smell and the ability to turn to just the right page where my favorite part is. I think my kids feel very much the same way.

What are your kids' favorites? Share. Maybe there are a few friends I need to introduce into the collection.


  1. I completely agree with the feel of actual pages in my hands! I have been meaning to call you about an author for a long time. Everytime a student returns one of this ladies' books, I think about Micah and how I wonder if he has ever read any of her books. Her name is Margaret Haddix. She is my favorite children's chapter book author. She has 2 series that fly out of my library! I will call you later and tell you about them. Possibly a birthday gift idea for him? My favorite picture book was, is, and will forever be: "Stand Back!" said the elephant. "I'm Going to Sneeze!" I read it every year to the lower grades the first week of school. They love it!! I am so glad that your kids enjoy reading as much as you do. If you can read, you can do anything!!

  2. i am 100% with you. i HAVE to smell the pages of a book and hold it in my hand. reading books on a screen brings me anxiety. you will never see me on a nook or kindle or whatever. they aren't bad, just not for me! i am a huge fan of libraries and displaying books also. my big room had one entire wall dedicated to books, all displayed in a section where i can look and admire them, and revisit my very most favorites over and over and over again. to make my library of honor the book really has to change me as a person or go through a hard time with me. i have a set of my dad's childhood books, some with bindings wearing away, and they are probably my most favorite of all. timeless classics of stories for all ages. did you ever read "my not so story book life?" i read it last spring and haven't ever laughed so hard at a book in my life. i started re-reading it again today, and it has me just as enthralled. there is nothing more beautiful that a big wall of organized books except for perusing and reading them:) i absolutely love this!!!

  3. We do have some "BAD" booka at our house. They are the books that we have read, but couldn't bear to part with. So they sit on the shelf unread, because we never getting around to reading them again, but just can't let them go. lol

    My husband bought me a Kindle, and I really thought I wouldn't like it. But I was RS president at the time, and had to take people to doctors appointments and such, so took my Kindle along. It saved my sanity! When you have to sit in the ER for 4-6 hours, a Kindle can really be a lifesaver. I read, played a few games, read my scriptures etc. Now I have an IPAD, and I love that I can carry around MANY books in such a small container. :)

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