Friday, 16 May 2014

surrounded by books


I've always lived surrounded by books. It's been like that my whole life. 
My family is a fine example of controlled hoarders: we collect a lot of stuff around us, yet we always manage to stack it in a deceitfully tidy, definitely pest and bugs free way.

My parents had the whole collection of Linus issues, an italian magazine that started publication back in 1965. Each move we did, it meant packing and unpacking the magazine collection (by the age of 15, my ears would automatically shut down when my mum said "oh, I'm so going to throw them all away in the recycle bin"), their childhood books and my dad's collection of Sanantonio novel by Fr├ęderic Dard.
On top of whole this, we also had to pack my books and my sister's books. Right: Adriana's the kind of teenager that used to slouch on the sofa carrying along a Stephen King's novel alongside 2 volumes of Marcel Proust' Recherche.

"Why two volumes?" 
"In case I need to double check some events" 
"Right. Silly of me asking"

Even with all of these mass of paper around the house, I never fully appreciated the space I had. That's it until I moved into shoebox#4.

At the shoebox the choice was pretty clear: either me or the books. Fitting my books with me in the same (limited) space would have simply meant defying the basic rules of physics, thus a chain effect that would have eventually ended in the collapse of the solar system.
While living in the shoebox, I acquired a powerful weapon: the library card. 
I still had my books piled on two lines on each shelf, plus an extra layer on top, as if my bookcase was a real-life Tetris grid, yet it became slightly more bearable. For me at least: by the time I moved out of the shoebox, the poor Ikea bookshelf was curved beyond repair.

Before moving to the Netherlands I got myself a Kindle and I felt pretty smug about it: I thought that by starting reading ebooks, I would avoid buying too many paper books. It blatantly worked the other way around. Before buying the kindle, I used to think twice about buying a book; I would ask myself if I really wanted it (yeah!) and if I knew where to put it (under the pillow? next to coffee machine?). With the kindle in my handbag, I would justify myself: "Well, but I haven't bought any new real book recently, what's the harm of getting one now?". 
So the number of books started growing again, with me living in denial.

Then I moved back to Italy. I didn't really think about the books when I was flat hunting: I was two weeks into the job, overworked already, it was damn hot and my brain was way uncooperative.
I signed the contract and I moved into the flat.
After few days the boxes arrived from the Netherlands. And then I started unpacking. Ah. It was only then that it hit me.
This place has no bookshelves! What the f**k? Seriously? How didn't I notice it?
It has a built-in cabinet and that's it: I decided I was going to put the books there, until I found a better solution.
Fast forward 18 months and the books are still there: they share the space with my smurfs collection, the vinyls, the Dalek alarm clock (exterminate!), some tea and coffee set and some other random things.

Moreover, because it took me more than an year to get the library card, the number of books kept on growing and growing  exponentially over the limits of the cabinet's available shelves. I moved the crafts books into the bedroom, yet another temporary solution.
Books in a way decided for me and started finding their own spaces: some books enjoy the space of my desk, some other took up residency on the sewing machine table. 
Romain Gary likes the spot next to the turntable, while Calvin and Hobbes like my sofa and Stephen Kind relocated next to the scarves and hats.

Given I have very few people visiting me I don't really mind: the Mekong river cookbook fits very well on my chair and then when I sit down, I just put it on my lap, as if it were a cat. 
When I say that I literally live surrounded by books, I mean it. Literally.

The problem that I can't find a good bookcase is something I should fix but that I never really do anything about it, but postponing it. I only feel the urgency in evening like this, when my mum phoned me to tell me that yes, she and dad are really coming to visit me tomorrow, and I'm left wondering how to fit the books without making them look a Jenga set.

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