Monday, 7 April 2008

Obsessed with books

Yes, indeed, like one of you observed, I do have a little colour arrangement going on in one of my bookshelves. I find it esthetically pleasing, as well as practical. It is very easy to find the book you are looking for.

My second book shelf is terrible. Not only is it about to fall apart, but there is no logic in the way the books are arranged. Well, a lot of the books have something to do with my dissertation topics and/or study topics, but add the odd Somerset Maugham here, Russian classics there, plus my bird and insect books, and you have a terrible mix. The shelf is located in my study, which is about to go through some kind of revamping - soon, I hope, because these days the entire room is so chaotic that I don't feel like spending time there.

I ran out of space for my books so out went my shampoos and toiletry from the bathroom shelf and in came books.

These are some of the books that used to belong to my grandfather.

And here are some of my recent flea market finds. First, a four-volume by Kurt Von Tippelskirch, a high-ranking Nazi general, who wrote the history of the Second World War from the standpoint of battles and military logic. The original book is from 1951. This Finnish translation came out in 1959. In this world packed with "moral" histories of WWII, I found this one very interesting.

These are Lenin's collected works (not complete works, unfortunately). They are supposed to be in four volumes, but I only found three. They were only 50 cents a piece though, so I bought them even though they were incomplete. The Finnish title is "V.I. Leninin valitut teokset", and the guy at the flea market thought that they were the memoirs of someone called Vilen!

These are my favourite books at the moment. The diaries of Anais Nin are fascinating. Alongside Virginia Woolf and Aino Kallas, Anais Nin is one of those top female writers that I truly admire and respect. I am missing the second volume of her diaries. I have the final two volumes in Finnish, but they are rather well translated.

Jeffrey Eugenides' Middlesex made a huge impact on me when I read it a couple of months back. I found this paperback at the flea market for 50 cents, and only realised later that it has been signed by Eugenides himself. Too bad my name isn't Jessica!


Anonymous said...

!! i'm so glad you wrote a post about your books! i have to say, i've never seen anyone organize their books this way -- at least, not in real life; it seems that people sometimes post photos of color-coordinated stacks of books on flickr, and i vaguely remember a year or so ago a bookstore in san francisco getting a lot of press for organizing their shelves by color, but i think that was for a pretty short time. i'm always interested in how people arrange their libraries!

i really loved middlesex and nin's diaries, too.

Milla said...

This is very cool. And what a clever decor element! I had a record collector nerd boyfriend who'd organized his vinyls like this and from lightest to darkest too. But that was kinda borderline obsessive.

Vappu said...

I am a fellow color-coordinator. Of books. But I used to roll up my underwear and organize them according to color too at one point. (Now it's just a big mess. I was going through a minimalistic, almost anal period then!) I also like color organized bookshelves for aesthetics and easily finding what you're looking for. There is another orfganizing methos i use loosely, which is by topic. But the color is the first deciding factor.

Anonymous said...

:) Arranging by color is such a neat way to shelve one's books! I have never seen this, and I would never have thought of it. It brings such a unifying fluidity to the space your books inhabit! And how nice that you have books that your grandpa read...I really feel that there is something of us left behind when we hold, and cherish an object. And of course, that is true, in a figurative, if not literal sense...I bet when you hold one of your grandfather's books, you feel closer to him...I bet it just brings back memories gallore, especially if you are spending time relaxing with the book, while reading it. I have a bunch of my grandfather's books, as well...they're just so beautiful, these older books. I have my grandfather's old guitar from the 1940's, and it is so beautiful, both in tone and in appearance. We are very lucky to have these things, that once were such integral parts of the lives of people we so love. Very nice post, thank you, Chris R.

ps--you have such eclectic tastes (insects, biographies, fiction, etc)...many books you showed were historical in subject...may I ask, is your degree program in history?

vasiliisa said...

Vilen was actually used as a first name in the Soviet Union, so why not :)

I myself believe in the good old alphabetical order... Unicorns mentioned her undies... Well, me, I actually used to have socks in alphabetical order :P. Yes, they had names...

The Waves said...

j: I actually got the idea for the colour arrangement from a Finnish home decor magazine. (I don't usually read them, I find them too sterile and boring, but this one artist lady had a bookshelf in her bedroom, and it was arranged by colour.) I think it works! Btw, I have a book on loan from a friend of mine, it is called At Home with Books, and it is about people's libraries. I should post a few pictures from it, for example, Keith Richards has a cool little library...

princessmillatwoshoes: I must try the colour thing with my cds and vinyls now..! ;-)

unicorns have whiskers: good to feel the presence of a colour companion! My sister actually arranges her t-shirts, tops and jumpers by colour. I should try that too one day, but underwear... hmm, maybe not my cup of tea! :-)

chris r.: yup, old books are so much more beautiful than new ones! I have actually bought some books just because they were old and pretty, and had a good feel to them. One of these was "Code de Procedure Civile" from 1926. Now, I am not going to read the French 1920s civil legislation any time soon, but the book is just beautiful... As for my studies, I am done with my degree(s) (for now anyway, I am still considering doing a PhD one of these days...), I did my undergraduate degree in East European studies (political history of communism and post-communist political analysis), and my Master's is in International Politics. I wanted to become a zoologist when I was little, and have a rather childish collection of nature books because of that.

vasiliisa: I didn't know Vilen was a Soviet name, very interesting! And I certainly didn't know of anyone who named their socks. That's kind of intense, but in a really good way! :-)