I don’t often show photos of our study because rarely is it tidy. Well, it is a working room, with two computers on a wall-to-wall bench, along with phone and copier, etc. The bench will be tidied and photographed in due course. Above is the wall of books which I finished cleaning only this evening. I’ve yet to go through the magazines at the bottom – I keep promising myself I will dispose of them but I’m reluctant to do so. But if/when I do, I will have all this space for my overflow of books currently piled up in the sitting room! I am not a hoarder, per se; it’s only books that I keep and even with those I’m careful to dispose of books for which I no longer have a use or know I shall never read.
I started in the top left hand corner yesterday morning, removing the books shelf by shelf, dusting each shelf and then each individual book the correct way with a badger-hair shaving brush which I keep for this very purpose. Dusting, always, from the spine of the book outwards so dust isn’t pushed back into the book.
Here are some history, social history and housekeeping books, but by no means all of them. Some are in another section – I have to spread books around according to the size of the shelves as they are fixed shelves (husband made all the bookcases for me 20 years ago when he retired and we then agreed to share the study as a work space. Twenty years ago I had, of course, fewer books! But there again, I’ve parted with as many as you see here, over the years.) The colour of the shelves is a slightly duller, softer shade of terracotta than it looks on the photos, it’s not as bright as it looks here.
Although it has been tiring, removing all the books and dusting each and every one, it has been quite therapeutic, and after I made the effort to start this mammoth cleaning task (as I also need to clean the bookshelves in the sitting room/dining room and in the bed sitting room and guest bedroom) there was a degree of satisfaction after these shelves had been done, the books returned and the whole area tidied up. It mightn’t look as pristine as some bookshelves in historic libraries, there are not loads of leather bound volumes (although I do have a small section of leather-bound pocket books elsewhere) as this is very much a working library. All the books in the study are non-fiction; fiction lives elsewhere.
I ‘weeded’ the shelves as I went but I have only been able to rid the shelves of about a dozen books so far which is rather pathetic! This is because I had a huge ‘weed’ a few years ago when I got rid of close to 250 books.
Book cull in 2013 (all these, plus a rug and lampshades went to the British Heart Foundation charity)
I gave them to the British Heart Foundation – they had to send a man-with-a-van to collect them. That kind of cull only happens once in a blue moon!
How lovely it would be to have sufficient shelf space for every section of my library so that I could keep all the gardening books together, all the architecture books together, all the art books together and so forth. I do my best, but there are split-collections according to the size of the books, although you will see some ‘short’ books on ‘tall’ shelves but, overall, I’ve done my best to keep similar subjects together.
The most untidy-looking shelves are those which hold our large quantity (I say “our” but really, I have to own up … they are really mine as I don’t think husband has bought such a book in his life!) of historic house and garden guide books. If we’ve visited a place, then there’s a guide book here, and they are in alphabetical order, from Arlington Court to The Vine. I have a similar shelf which holds all the Devon literature, on towns and villages and local history.
Here are some of my country books, such as Lark Rise to Candleford, and Corduroy (Adrian Bell) and books on conversations with gardeners, such as The 3000 Mile Garden, Also, books on Suffolk, the county I love almost as much as my home county of Devon.
Below the shelf on historic houses and gardens (leaflets and guide books) are some interior design and décor books, Nina Campbell, David Hicks, etc. Below it, out of the picture, are yet more décor books, such as those by Farrow & Ball on colour.
And so I am tired this evening. Books are heavy, very heavy, and I feel I’ve given myself a good work out (but with beneficial side effects that you don’t get from a gym: clean bookshelves and clean books!)
I cooked bacon & tomatoes on toast for our breakfast and elder son joined us for some, daughter in law having gone to work, and little grandson having returned to school after the Easter holiday; for lunch I re-heated some tomato and courgette soup I had in the freezer and we had that with mini baguettes and afterwards, I re-heated the last of the toffee apple cake and we had that with a little (just a smidgen) of whipping cream but used as pouring cream.
The daffodils I bought last Friday are now in full bloom and look wonderful in the kitchen – I love to have flowers in the kitchen, after all I spend a lot of time in there! And for supper it was scrambled eggs on toast with mushrooms in balsamic again, I hadn’t the energy to cook anything more demanding.
Now for a cup of tea and University Challenge, a favourite programme. And tomorrow, more bookshelf cleaning.
Until next time.