The figure of my study is round, and has no more bare wall than what is taken up by my table and chair; so that the remaining parts of the circle present me a view of all my books at once, set upon five rows of shelves round about me. … ’Tis there that I am in my kingdom, and there I endeavor to make myself an absolute monarch, and to sequester this one corner from all society. …
Michel de Montaigne*
Where is your book-kingdom? What is your dream book-kingdom if you don’t have it yet?
I own two ten-year-old four-shelf Target bookcases made of particleboard to house 200+ books. My books are stacked on top of one another and crammed together on the shelves, multiple layers deep. Most of my books were purchased used or are remnants from college days, when I wrote in them and reread them so many times they are creased and/or covers are falling off. Other books are ones I acquired for free and probably will never read. This is not me. Although I’ve been trying hard to not be overly attached to books (for budgetary reasons), I am craving a little corner of the world to be my book-kingdom.
(Note that I don’t provide a picture of my bookcases because I’m so embarrassed!)
How nice it would be to let the books breathe on the shelf in their own space, to organize them how I’d like, and to be able to sit in a comfortable, reclining arm chair as I read and see them all at once!
I tried to find some samples of what I’d like to book-kingdom to be. I can’t find the one I have in my mind. But suffice it to say, it would be an over-the-top gorgeous room like this one with hardwood shelves and with a comfortable armchair or sofa to lounge on and look at my books (all of which will be in wonderful condition, of course). Then again, maybe my dream book-kingdom would more simple and clean, like Claire’s shelves are. (Yes, Claire, even though you have books piled in front of your shelves, it is so much prettier than mine, I love it!)
See others’ home libraries at Your Shelves!
I love the idea of my book shelves being my kingdom, an extension of my personality, and a comfortable place to retreat and enjoy reading the written word. For now, I’ll have to dream.
*quoted from “The Commerce of Reading” in Reading in Bed: Personal Essays on the Glories of Reading, edited by Steven Gilbar. While I relate to Montaigne’s love of looking at books, he sounds like a snob in this essay. In fact, I’m not convinced he loves reading for reading’s sake. I’m not impressed by his comments that he goes a few months without picking up a book, for example. And his delight in his book-kingdom seems to be more because he knows he’s well-to-do. Nevertheless, his comments about a book-kingdom got me dreaming!
Reading Reflections is a new occasional feature in which I comment on an article or essay about reading.