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Bookshelves vs. Blogging: Cage Match

March 2nd, 2008 · 7 Comments · Books, Journal, Meta

bookshelfSo, on the one hand, I feel just awforrible that Ocelopotamus has gone so quiet … the latest two-week outage being just one bead on a five-month string of periods of woeful neglect. Poor kittyderm.

And I have all these wonderful links and jottings and things I’d like to post, if I can just find the time to cobble them into posts and mark them up in the WordPressery.

On the other hand, five months after my move I have finally managed to get started on the massive project of unpacking all my books. I’ve filled in one-point-five full-size bookcases this week and have some momentum going. Only 26 boxes of books left. Feel the whoooosh of it!

And it feels so wonderful to be releasing my books back into the wild. It’s like having my apartment suddenly fill up with old friends. It is a tremendous comfort to be able to look around and see them, and to know that if I am seized by the need to read a particular poem by Rilke or Yeats or Allen Ginsberg, or a passage by Annie Dillard or Ursula K. Le Guin or Gore Vidal, I can locate it and scratch the cerebral itch without having to spend half an hour rooting around through seven boxes.

I firmly believe that there is no more beautiful ornament for a home than a bookcase filled with books. (Well, unless the “books” are by Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly and things, in which case I truly believe you’re better off displaying porcelain figurines of sad-eyed clowns and children on potties.)

So here I am caught helplessly between these terrible competing priorities, squabbling over the random twenty-minute chunks of time I can steal from the pursuit of mammon.

I can go back into the room of books and liberate say, Dickens or Dunsany or Daniel Pinkwater from their cardboard confinement, but that requires leaving the poor faltering ocelopotamus on life support for yet another week or more, and hoping it can survive. I hear its labored breathing, the pitiful little sighs it gives out in its weakened slumber.

On the other hand, I can buckle down and do some heavy blogging, because let’s face it, the internets need my opinions on things like life after John Edwards and the forthcoming B-52’s album and my favorite teas and the weird sudden explosion of piñata-mania in popular culture. But all the time I’m sitting at my desk typing, I hear the tiny, heart-rending cries of the books yearning to be sprung from their packing-tape prison cells.

So, what do you guys think I should do? Bookshelves or blogging?

And “a little of both” is cheating, because my attention is already so fragmented that my brain is continually one click away from the blue screen of death.


7 Comments so far ↓

  • Jane Hyde

    Oh sweet love, the books, by all means! Especially now that you’ve made contact with your fandom and readership, with the Friends of the Oceloptot. Throughout my years, I’ve slept better knowing that my bookshelves are nearby, sorted and waiting for my need. It’s a deep comfort to know that in the dark of night we can reach for the Rilke, go for the James or the Joyce, search for solace where we will. Dear Dave, get the books in order and then send another picture. And talk more about Mr. Blue, if you want.
    Thinking of you,

  • amyc

    Books first, blogging second. Absolutely.

    And when you get back, you can blog about your books! (Or just join GoodReads.com like all the other cool kids.)

  • Ocelopotamus

    Yeah, I need to do that GoodReads thing. I’m on everything else …

    Then I can put the GoodReads widget on my Facebook page! And then go bulletin about it on MySpace.

  • Hob

    It’s not really about which task is more important, it’s about what will allow you to stop fretting and do stuff. If you launch into doing ALL the books, you’ll probably have this voice in the back of your head going “oh no, when will i get to write those blog posts,” and vice versa. Can you just do one box of books every day or something?

  • Grendel

    I’m curious about how you organize your books. We have them in large, vague sections (short stories, poetry, novels, reference) but with many exceptions and no further attempt ad practical arrangement…

  • Ocelopotamus

    Hob — unfortunately my boxes of bookses are all so intertwined with each other, and the logistics of organizing them on shelves so complicated, that even if I try to only open one I wake up four hours later having opened at least five or six, and started several sub-projects in the process.

    Grendel — my system is similarly large and vague. In my previous apt I had one bookcase roughly dedicated to prose, another that was mostly poetry, and a smaller one that was books about music, graphic novels, and pop cultural stuff.

    In the apartment before that I also had one full bookcase that was all nonfiction, essays, reference books, science and nature books, and some SF&F. I had to retire that bookcase during the move to my last place, so a LOT of those books stayed in boxes the last four years.

    My new place has some-built in shelves around the faux fireplace, so that’s changing my organization scheme a little and I’m still working it out. I’m cautiously hopeful that I won’t have nearly so many books being stored in boxes during my tenure here, but we’ll see …

  • Steve Sturm

    Amen to living with books. Next to my wife, my books are my best roommate ever. The constraints of children’s toys have, unfortunately, forced me to reduce my books (is “my library” too pretentious?) from your size to only 5 full-size bookcases. Our new house, however, has one spare room, and as soon as a new job comes in the door, wall-to-wall bookcases and an armchair are in order, with an expansion of my collection, hopefully with a few more antique and first-edition acquisitions.

    Your collection certainly has expanded since I helped you move a few decades ago. And if you need help again. . .