Posted by: nedlnthred | October 7, 2014

Books, clothes, and food. And a kitty.

“The first thing I shall do, as soon as the money arrives, is buy some Greek authors.  After that, I shall buy clothes.”

Desiderius Erasmus, 1500


I am relieved that the learned encourage us to buy books.  However, the neatniks are always rather astonished by just how many books there are.  And that they enter the house in bags, boxes, and gift packages.  Some arrive by mail from etherial booksellers I shall never meet.  Some arrive in bookbags, borrowed from the library I myself work in.  But somehow, very few of these blessed journies on paper ever *leave* the house, thus creating a bit of a logjam.  Does this Life with Book-Piles make one a bit of a nutter?  I never thought so, but I think I must have crossed some magical boundary that makes friends think words like “Collier” and “hording”.  I didn’t mean to, but I see my friends’ pupils flare a bit when they’re over and I reach to a shelf to show them something.



This worries me.  But many of my books get used frequently.  Certainly the embroidery references and the Tudor-court studies do.  A Dissertation-writing human should surely be reading all the time?  And the Tudors are my life’s work.  Surely it is more gentle on my time to own these books than to rely on libraries that must be gotten to after work?  If I read at home, I at least get the luxury of a cup of tea and a cat on my  lap.  Isnt that preferable to sitting in a library, trying to focus after a full day of work, in a hard chair, dreaming of dinner, and watching the clock so as not to miss a train home?  Angel, my elderly cat, certainly feels so.  Because “reading” and “sitting still” to her equal “quality time” and “scritchies”.  and it makes me 100 times happier to read with her quiet reassurance that the day is a decent one.

It never seemed to me to be odd to have this many books.  Certainly my offices, both home and at FIT, have nothing on my father’s study or his office in the Philosophy Department.  If anything, my books have (mostly) been rather more organized than his:  Fewer books are squeezed in on top of the shelf, less paper stuck there for lack of a more obvious “I can get right to it when I need it again” place.  Which supposes, doesn’t it, that the desk drawers and their tidy potential files weren’t being used to the fullest.  Hmmm.

A friend once gave me a book called “Organizing for the Creative Person”.  (  The theory is that people like me (whichever side of the brain I actually use, never can keep them straight) need to be able to see the sorts of things they are sorting, or they forget to use them.  I can certainly speak to this.  Although it makes me wonder about my father’s study.  Teaching symbolic logic never struck me as “visual learning” or “right-brained” but he still has a pile on every surface, long after his retirement.  It’s going to visit my mother and him that really gives me pause to stop and fear my collecting habits.  They’re books, right?  I use them for my life’s work?  And the fabric, too.  And the many tools for the fibercrafts I practice.  I NEEEEEED them.  Oops.  But other people seem to (somehow, I have no idea how) manage theirs into containers and and bins and shelves, instead of having them spread all over the dining table in their good front rooms.  Don’t they?  I mean, I want the three knitting projects I’m in the middle of mentally to be on the sofa, where I will be able to work on them when next I sit still.  Don’t I?  Otherwise, how will I remember what I was planning to do next?


To be fair, my parents don’t have entire rooms so full of un-sorted stuff that they aren’t quite usable.  Ok, so they have an attic.  But I’m a single person, and I’ve filled up a 6-bedroom house with the stuff of my projects.  Mind you, I fully intend to use every last item in here!  Not sure when I’ll get to *that* project, but I will, I assure you!  But this week, the piles everywhere depress me a bit.  Because this week, I am not finding the three books I need to read next, or the widget that will help me bind off the present for my niece that I just finished, and I keep tripping over the sheets with color layouts I’m still thinking through for the embroidery projects.  And my black sweater is covered in white fur from Herself, the Angel of my TV-room sofa.  And there are still books everywhere.  This isn’t Herself, the Empress, but Dulcie (the cat) is lying on top of at least one knitting project and a book or two, whilst having conquered my lap.  But if you look carefully, there are a few projects on every visible surface.

Oh, dear.




  1. I shudder to think what I could do with six rooms! And yes, piles of books on every surface are perfectly normal, why do you ask???

    • Hmmm. Maybe the problem is having too much space, so it doesn’t all get regulated. Shelving. I need more shelving! Then it will all work out!

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