Sunday, June 7, 2015

Books Must be Dusted and Shelves Wiped Down

It's that time of year again, if, in fact, I get around to cleaning my library once a year.  Lyn, over at I Prefer Reading, has been posting photos of her bookshelves as she cleans them.  We all love to look at other people's books and shelves, don't we?  I still have a few free-standing bookcases to clean, the ones with my Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books and the one with my travel books.  Here are some photos of my library.

The smallish, buff-colored books are the set of Washington Irving's works.  Also one of my favorite books, The Haunting of Hill House.  Isn't that a lovely cover on A Little Tour in France?  I used to collect illustrated bindings, especially on old travel narratives.

If you haven't read Elizabeth Lawrence's literate gardening essays, get to it.  Somewhere in there there are also some Henry Mitchell gardening essays, also wonderful.  Van Reid writes the Moosepath League books, great old-fashioned funny and touching books.

A Child's Christmas in Wales is one of my favorite books.  My late mother gave me this copy.

More Angela Thirkell.

I like Maurice Prendergast's art.  And Winslow Homer.

I like Winslow Homer a lot!

More Washington Irving, Henry Mitchell, Somerset Maugham, Beverley Nichols, Proust, Van Reid.  I'll get to the Proust some day.

Somehow, two photos got overlapped.  In the top photo, you can see the Sir Walter Scott set that I bought for $3.50 at a junk store.  It's a complete set and it even has notes in the back.  You can also see my Robert Louis Stevenson, missing only, you guessed it, Treasure Island and Kidnapped.  But I have both in another edition at the far right.

In the bottom photo, you can see the other Angela Thirkells.  She pretty much has a shelf to herself and I haven't finished collecting her works.

The dark green set at the top is my set of Mark Twain, the grey ones with the blue top band are the works of Abraham Lincoln, on the shelf underneath is the Everyman's Encyclopedia, and the double shelf (actually a triple shelf) of brown books is a limited edition of the Harvard Classics that I bought for a dollar a volume, $50.00!  I know some people sneer at them, but they're a great foundation for classic reading.

The final tier is history.  I always mean to read history.  I like history.  But I usually fall asleep shortly after starting.  One day I'll read The Story of Civilization and Motley's History of the Dutch Republic and Page Smith's A People's History of the United States and Gibbon's The History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Republic.  Some day.

A library ladder is always nice  -  to store extra books.

My late father, a cabinetmaker by trade, made the small free-standing bookcase.  It contains some of my TBR books.  The doll on top of it is wearing a wig made of my hair when I was about
16-years-old.  The box in front of the big book shelves, the large box on the bottom, that you can hardly see, is full of books for my three little grandnieces.  I buy books I like and keep them for special occasions and for 'just because' gifts.

This is a bookcase I haven't tackled yet, my travel books.  The top three shelves are A & C Black illustrated travel books, the others are old travel narratives, some illustrated, some not, all fascinating.  Sorry Jack didn't make the bed that day.  Turtle (our cat) must have already claimed it.  That's always a good excuse.


  1. Your bookshelves look wonderful, they put mine to shame, I really must organise mine, then maybe I can take photos too. It's lovely to see some more of your house too, did your mom make the doll?

    1. Jack and I built them in sections and then attached them to the wall, so they're really built-ins. I need to keep things organized because I'm that kind of person. I alphabetize my spices, too.
      No, the doll is an old doll that my aunt gave to me years after I gave her my hair for the wig. I'm not crazy about the doll and it might have some value, but that's my dark hair on it! How can I sell it?

  2. Lovely bookshelves. I love looking at other people's bookshelves. What we read & what we keep is always fascinating. I'm definitely going to read Gibbon one day too! I think we all have those books. I finally read Moby Dick last year & loved it so maybe this will be the year for Gibbons? I think I'll try him as an audio book, it worked for Melville.

    1. It's true that our books say a lot about who we are, or who we want to be. When we moved to Philadelphia ten years ago, a really gave my library a severe culling. I now only keep any older, hardback books or paperbacks that are out of print or hard to find.

      Thanks to you, I've had Moby Dick lying on my dining room table for several months! I'm still wading through Don Quixote. As much as I'm enjoying it, I'm so easily distracted by mysteries and books I see recommended in other people's blogs (like yours!).

  3. Lovely shelves. I must say I am very bad at cleaning my books. Usually the shelves just get a damp cloth dusting once a year-ish and I don;t bother taking the books off to dust them too. I am very allergic to dust. As long as it stays undisturbed I am fine but once airborne, I am a goner. Sometimes I have to dust the library shelves at work and I have to wear a lovey mask to do it.

    1. I'm lucky if I get around to actually taking the books off the shelf and dusting them. I dust the front edges of the shelves every two weeks when I clean.

      My oldest niece, who is probably older than you are, has had asthma all her life. She has complained that her mother vacuums before she visits and all that does is stir up all the dust and cat hair that triggers her asthma.

  4. Lovely shelves, Joan! Mine are so overstuffed and cluttered. Mostly paperbacks too.

    1. Thanks, Peggy. I got rid of tons of books when we moved here, some of which I wish I'd kept, of course.

      Hey! When do we get to see or read about your trip?!

  5. Replies
    1. Thanks! Whether that was 'wow' for the quality / quantity of my books, the loveliness of my library, or because you're impressed by my cleaning abilities, I accept your awe!