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Wednesday, February 17, 2010


Pin It I will never forget my first good friend, Robin Irene. I met up with her at recess every day so that we could share stories. I never tired of the tales she would tell. I was especially mesmerized by the stories of her life as a princess and her friend, Morgan... who was a unicorn.

As I grew older Laura Ingalls became my closest friend and we endured all sorts of trials together; braids, buck teeth, bullies and moving to a place that was new and unfamiliar. It was wonderful to have someone who understood.

The list of book-friends I have made over the years is endless, but this is where my love for books and the friends I have made within their pages began.

However, this also presented a problem throughout my life. The books themselves had become precious possessions and I could not part with them. When we would move from place to place, my collection of books always came with me and it continued to grow throughout my teenage years.

By the time I was ready to set off on my own, I had nearly 7 good sized cardboard boxes filled with these old friends and I had to leave them behind for lack of room. I placed them in a corner of my parent's storage room along with a few other things and promised to come back for them soon.

When I returned home that summer, my friends were gone. Some sold at a yard sale, the rest donated to a thrift store along with the other items I had left behind. And so I began again, making new friends as I had the time and keeping them in a small bookshelf fashioned from crates.

When I married and started having children I could not wait to share these friends with my family. I slowly began to acquire the books I had loved as a child and loved seeing my kids enjoy them as I had. Again, this presented a problem. After nine kids and eighteen years of collecting, where could we keep so many books?

My husband, who has an amazing talent for woodworking, determined that we needed a library. (You see why I love this man?) He set about turning our front room into a thing of beauty for lounging in and reading to our hearts' content. The room is finished, except for one thing... the bookshelves.

The shelves will be built and line the walls of our library room before too long, but for the time being we have our books, boxed and waiting, in here:

A few years back Allen made the older kids some nice cabinets in which to store the things they wanted to keep out of the reach of their littler brothers and sisters. What do they keep in them?


Books also adorn their dressers, our kitchen counters, a few shelves in the hall closet and even our tables.

Some may call us crazy, but I agree with these words from Henry Ward Beecher:

"Books are not made for furniture, but there is nothing else that so beautifully furnishes a house."


rorymckm said...

i couldn't agree more! can't wait to have my own place so that i can bring my old friends out into the daylight again!

Gerb said...

And Rory, your comment would have made a perfect ending to my post. Good luck in the ongoing house hunt!

Kara said...

I just spend last night trying to find some room on our book shelf for some books that needed a home. Alas, I had to move some books into the closet; which is better than getting rid of them until I come up with a better solution. May you soon be able to bring your books out of the closet.

shoezimm said...

Gerb, I loved this post. I too know the joy of literary friends and having piles of books that have been hauled from one home to another. I am also still hunting down copies of many beloved childhood books, but can't wait for the day that I can have a library of my own (the one thing I have always dreamed of). I wanted to let people who have smaller spaces know of something I saw at Ikea. They took a small closet, added shelves to all 3 sides and created a small personal library. Of course there was no room for comfy chairs to lounge on, but its still an idea for those of us who long to see our familiar friends come out of their storage and breath the fresh air.... that is, if we can find a closet we are able to give up!

p.s. "Morgan and Me" is still one of my favorite of the Serendipity books....I loved pretending Morgan and I were romping through the countryside. I still have my original copy, though its gotten a bit battered over the years!

Sarah said...

We just purchased some shelving so that I can finally rescue my boxes of books from their temporary quarters under our guest bed. By this weekend they will be in the open again.

Lori said...

Hmm....kind of looks like a closet in my house! So nice that you have a carpenter-ish man to build you some shelves. I have to buy all of mine. ;)

I still have most of my books from my childhood, too. It's hard to part with them. They're friends.

Richard & Natalie said...

I am envious of your library to be and all that gorgeous woodwork. I would love to have some mouldings and paneling like that.
A lot of my "friends" from childhood still live at my parents house, but I have papers in them saying "This book goes to Natalie." I should probably just ask for them now...Especially since I really doubt any of my brothers are going to want "Are you there God? It's Me Margaret." and the "Little House on the Prairie" series.

Debbie(single;complicated) said...

love this post!! i love books..and have way more then I have space but LOVE them anyway!!:)

Kara said...

Ugh! Spelling error. I meant spent, not spend. I wish there was a way to edit a comment after it has already been posted without just deleting it.

Brown Thumb Mama said...

So, so true! When we moved into our house we had 12 huge boxes of books...and have so many more now. They have overflowed the shelves and are stacked (seemingly) everywhere.

Farscaper said...

I never got into books much until long after graduating school. When we were first married my husband would shut himself up in a room writing scripts for a theatre we had. This left me with a LOT of time to myself. I started reading.

My collection is still small but it is growing. I might have around 30-40 books (not including the kid's books). I have always wanted my "dream house" to have a library. One big room full of dark wood paneling (like your house - the pretty paneling), books, rugs, tapestries and tall windows - a gas fireplace would be nice. Someplace I can escape to to have these written movies play out in my mind.

I love going to used book stores and buying old and strange books.

Anaise said...

Ooooohhhhhhh! Booooooooks!

Please post pictures of the bookshelves and their contents when they are done. :)

I'm such a sucker for books.

Putz said...

i came across ou on loren christie's blog and thought you sound aa lot like loren, plus you write well, really your ideas about books and shevles for those book is very concise and unnderstandable, all i have in my house are boobks and wall to wall book shelves, need to get better at posting pictures so you could see for yourself, and don't you just love loren christie?????

Shannon said...

What a beautiful post - books are the most amazing and patient friends. I hope you will post pictures of your library after the bookshelves are fortifying those walls!

Gerb said...

Kara- Sounds like we both need new shelves!

shoez- I love the closet-turned-book-nook idea. I also love that you were a fan of Serendipity books! Leo the Lop was my other childhood favorite. Thanks for commenting!

Sarah- It's always nice to get those old friends out of their hiding places, isn't it? Thanks for stopping by!

Lori- I think I've replenished my books that were sold at the yard sale... and then some. And I just can't seem to stop.

Natalie- Once my mom realized how sad I was that they sold my boxes of books she gave me the books she had boxed up from my childhood - a bunch of Disney stories that came in the mail once a month. Good luck getting yours!

Debbie- There's something awesome about a house that has books everywhere, don't you think? Thanks for reading & commenting!

BTM- I'm sure you could somehow repurpose some old wood or something into a bookcase. Right? I look forward to the tutorial. ;)

Farscaper- I rarely buy books that are new. I love buying them from DI, Savers and used book stores. I had one guy look at me funny when I found an old book at DI & had to open it & smell it because the pages still looked so crisp. I love books with personality.

Anaise- I, too, am a sucker for books. I can't wait to post pictures. Hopefully it will be soon!

Putz- Your house sounds like heaven - wall to wall bookshelves? It's like a dream come true. It's always great to meet new friends. Thanks for reading!

Shannon- Agreed! Books are still some of my best friends. Thanks for the comment. And as for pictures, stay tuned...

Rachel said...

Gerb! Once again.......the way our minds work is creepy! Last night as I tried turning off my light beside my bed (and I say 'trying' because the light is blocked) I started to laugh and thought, I need to take a picture of this and put it on my blog. I have so many books piled on my night stand that I am reading/want to read/have read but haven't put on a shelf somewhere yet....because we've run out of shelf space. Most of our book shelves are double booked and in some cases double and pile booked! I need more shelves!!!

The wood work in your home is gorgeous!!! I have to settle for fake wood wall paper. :D

Mom not Mum said...

A similar thing happened to me when I left home. The dreaded garage sale took my friends and that was that. It's especially disheartening when I have to go to the library or the bookstore to buy books that I once owned so that my own children can read them. I will say that my set of Little HOuse on the Prarie books are still with me and they are very well read. You would think I let the whole neighborhood borrow them from the way they are tattered but I am the only reader. I'm debating sharing them with my daughter but then I fear she may not love them the way that I did. She LOVES reading though so hopefully she will.

Linn said...

My husband, my children, the gospel, books. Seriously, those would round off my top four. We have an actual library in our current home and it literally makes me smile every time I walk in it.

Gerb said...

Rachel- We can't help it that we both have great minds. ;) And you know, I think fake wood wallpaper is totally underrated!

MnM- When I bought the Little House set for my girls, I felt like it had to come with a lecture on how the people in these books were my friends and they needed to treat them well. They have, and they love them too. It's awesome.

Linn- Amen to your top four! To be honest, just looking in my closets full of boxes makes me smile, too. Knowing how beautifully decorated our front room will look with so many books adorning the walls makes me almost giddy.

Corine said...

Gerb, Beautiful post, and beautiful library! This is one of my dreams... I am so excited for that day (whenever it may be1 ;). I'm so happy for you!

PS I too have books all over the house & love it! :)

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