thinking out loud

A house of my own / my Life’s Library

I was reading Sandra Cisneros’ The House on Mango Street, which made me wonder why I hadn’t read it before, it was exactly the sort of thing that I tend to fall completely in love with. And reading it so close to Kate Bolick’s Spinster: Making a Life of One’s Own made me interested in more books that describe what Bolick referred to as “the spinster wish.”

My edition of The House on Mango Street came with an introduction by Sandra Cisneros, where this is from:

“As a girl, she dreamed about having a silent home, just to herself, the way other women dreamed of their weddings. Instead of collecting lace and linen for her trousseau, the young woman buys old things from the stores on grimy Milwaukee Avenue for her future house-of-her-own – faded quilts, cracked vases, chipped saucers, lamps in need of love.”
– Sandra Cisneros

I don’t “nest” quite in the same way, but I remember feeling that way ever since I was a child, always looking to find/create a space of my very own. These days I do look for things like textiles and teacups when I’m away, but this is the sort of thing I think of when I think of my idea of home:

“I am a product […of] endless books. My father bought all the books he read and never got rid of any of them. There were books in the study, books in the drawing room, books in the cloakroom, books (two deep) in the great bookcase on the landing, books in a bedroom, books piled as high as my shoulder in the cistern attic, books of all kinds reflecting every transient stage of my parents’ interest, books readable and unreadable, books suitable for a child and books most emphatically not. Nothing was forbidden me. In the seemingly endless rainy afternoons I took volume after volume from the shelves. I had always the same certainty of finding a book that was new to me as a man who walks into a field has of finding a new blade of grass.” – C.S. Lewis

It wasn’t the kind of place I grew up in, but looking around my living room, it’s the kind of place I want to live in. I’m also taken by Alaska’s (from John Green’s Looking for Alaska) idea of building one’s own “Life’s Library” –

“I’ve maybe read a third of ‘em. But I’m going to read them all. I call it my Life’s Library. Every summer since I was little, I’ve gone to garage sales and bought all the books that looked interesting. So I always have something to read.” – Looking for Alaska, John Green

I think I’ve read more than a third of my books (perhaps three-fourths of them?) but I probably have more than enough to go by if I stopped buying/bringing home books. I’ve started to give away some of my older books, especially the review/sample copies from before I transferred to the Children’s/YA section of the bookstore. I don’t buy books the same way I used to, too – these days I’m less likely going to buy the new interesting YA title I wanted to read (no matter how much I wanted to read it), instead looking for secondhand copies of old favourites on AbeBooks or splurging on comics/picturebooks which are quite expensive here.

A cat is not a book, you say? But what is a library without a cat? 😀
This used to be my coffee table until I inherited my parents’. Now this is here until I buy new shelves.
I never meant to start these stacks – but my mother was afraid that my initial stacks were getting to high, and separated these here when she visited.
These were supposed to be the only bookstacks until the second pile started. Most of my TBR are piled here.
Three rows in these shelves are for CDs/DVDs, and four (the ones at the bottom) for magazines.
Hallway. YA and Middle Grade fiction, except for the one shelf of adult SF/F.
Non-Fiction, comics/manga, picturebooks, art books and literary fiction, mixed with the CDs/DVDs and magazines.

I use BILLY shelves because they’re the easiest to get in bulk. Sometime this year I hope to get at least two more so that my comics and picture books would have their own space instead of sharing with the non-fiction. While I’m at it I may get some picture ledges to display my favourite picture books. Of course, since I’m currently saving for my next trip to Tokyo it’ll be awhile yet before I do that.

(Also, I have shelves and books piling up in my own room as well, but let’s forget about that for now. ^_^’)


10 thoughts on “A house of my own / my Life’s Library

    1. Thank you, Chris! This year I seem to feel more dedicated towards the cataloging and weeding and caring of my book collection – well, more than the usual 🙂


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