April 11, 2013

Off the Shelf

It has become something of a tradition - if you can make a tradition in just two years - for me to update the photos of my bookshelves around this time.  Not a great deal has changed as far as the big white bookcase goes, since it has all but run out of room width-wise and is even getting cramped height-wise, which makes stacking books a bit of a chore.  However, I've made some alterations to the entertainment unit, introduced a research basket where most of my reference material goes, and bought some new books that managed to squeeze in where I was quite certain there wasn't any room left, so it seemed worthwhile to show off the new look.

The second shelf here is just about the same, although I think I shuffled some Shakespeare around a bit and got a copy of The Tempest.  The tannish-greenish book on top of Jane Austen is an adorable Scribner's, 1925, South Seas edition of David Balfour; it smells of old bookshops, and as far as physical books and not the stories side the covers go, is one of my favorites.  Jenny snitched my copy of The Black Arrow some months ago and I haven't taken the time to get it back yet, but it ought to be lying lengthwise under David Balfour.

I have added more to the top shelf - it was one of the few that still had room.  There's a nice fat copy of Les Miserables being chummy with The Count of Monte Cristo.  There's Nicholas Nickleby (the chap in maroon standing next to Treasure Island, also in maroon but significantly skinnier) and hardbacks of Don Quixote and Quo Vadis?.  The rather ugly lime green clothbound on the right is The Spy by James Fenimore Cooper; the ugliness has put me off from reading it.  Over toward the left is a copy of Frenchman's Creek by Daphne du Maurier that I also have yet to read.  And Kidnapped, which out to be spanning the gap between Treasure Island and The Count, is off the shelf.  Again.  I'm pretty sure it was off the shelf last year when I took 2012's photos.  It's a popular one.

Same old, same old around here.  David Copperfield, who ought to be propping up Mary Barton, is currently serving as my downstairs reading.  The second shelf down is the same as always, though I did pick up a copy of Starflower and Moonblood.  I was given another copy of The Hobbit for my birthday, too: it's a little leather one under On the Edge of the Dark Sea of Darkness, difficult to spot in this photo.  I also shuffled Mary Stewart over to the entertainment unit to make room for the growing Tales of Goldstone Wood.  Anne Elisabeth Stengl has no compassion on my shelves.

Nothing much to see on the first shelf here, save for that pale blue book towards the far end, which is a rather out-of-place looking Mr. Midshipman Hornblower - move along!  The bottom shelf filled out rapidly when I finished with my research material for the Sea Fever books, and got several new books into the bargain.  The yellowy one far on the right is A Hanging Offense, which was so-so; the one next to it on the left, dwarfed by the chunky The Line upon a Wind, is The Fatal Cruise of the Argus - I've not read that one through yet.

Coming down the shelf to the left, I crammed in all my particularly useful books: Edward Preble, dull but incredibly helpful; Dawn Like Thunder, also marvelous; Stephen Decatur and The Barbary Wars, which were rather meh; and then a few on naval warfare that had been lying flat in last year's shot.  The green hardback to the right of The Barbary Wars - I don't know if you can see it - is a pretty copy of Rudyard Kipling's The Seven Seas, a collection of poetry. 

Mostly mysteries down here on the lower shelf of the entertainment unit, with a very big, very heavy, very highlighted (and not by me) Pelican Shakespeare to boot.  I picked up some Agatha Christie novels and was given The Secret Adversary, the first Tommy & Tuppence, for my birthday.  Sherlock Holmes is getting a little tipsy over on the right.  Lying flat on top are The Red House Mystery, an enjoyable murder mystery by that wonderful fellow called A.A. Milne; another Holmes; and a Wodehouse.  I have two Jeeves novels, but I just finished reading the other and he hasn't gone home yet.

Top shelf!  This has obviously filled out since last year.  Of The Thief series, I only had the first one this time last year; I picked up The Queen of Attolia and The King of Attolia (lovely hardback, too) in the interim, but have not yet read the latter.  There's Howl, looking very creased from getting passed around the family so many times.  I Capture the Castle and Peter Pan are being green together.  There are a couple more Peter Pan books that I've not yet read, a few Costain novels (Ride with Me and High Towers) that I really only picked up because of their looks, and a fat N.C. Wyeth-illustrated The Scottish Chiefs.  The little book on top is one I just got a few weeks ago, The Winter Prince by Elizabeth Wein.  

In the back - you can just see them - are some of my Christian books (which sounds ridiculous, but I'm not sure what else to call them).  Anna gave me Mornings with Tozer.  There's Charity and Its Fruits, and The Death of Death in the Death of Christ, and the pale blue one on the right is God with UsThe Mind of the Maker is playing coy on the left and barely made an appearance.

Here is the aforementioned research basket, which is actually getting alarmingly full.  The big red book is an atlas of the ancient world.  The fake, Celtic-knot book came with tea in it and is now used for collecting rejection letters (yay!).  It leans rather forlornly against a Smithsonian bird book; two books on ancient astronomy that I just added two days ago (Echoes of the Ancient Skies and In Search of Ancient Astronomies, by E.C. Krupp); and three Country Diary books, full of watercolors and nature notes by a Birmingham lady in the early 20th Century.

And this is my too-large stack of books that are either being read or that just haven't made their way back home.  On the right stack are an old copy of Wordcrafter; two writing notebooks and a general notebook; Gleanings from Paul (there to make me finish reading it); and the currently-being-read Signs Amid the Rubble.  Which is splendid.  I confess the first two lectures were a little taxing and it was difficult to tell where he was going, but by the time I came to the third, I was having to restrain myself from underlining every other passage.  Excellent book - do read!

On the left there is Daughter of Time by Josephine Tey, which I just began last night; The Inimitable Jeeves, finished the other night but still kicking about; and Kidnapped, which really should go back to its spot now.  The absolutely massive book is a book on Cromwell - I'm not sure why it's still there.  Below that is an Arthur Custance work, and then Red Moon and Black Mountain, and then another notebook.  I should clear up this mess, but I get so used to seeing all the books there that I just never do!

what are your shelves looking like this spring?


  1. Oh, I've got to do a post like this one of these days. I finally got a bookcase of my own for my birthday, and have managed to fit everything except some oddly-size research books that just wouldn't fit on any of the shelves. I'm going to be rearranging it soon, though, to make room for some new books I ordered, so I guess I'll wait till then.

    Lot of familiar faces (or should I say bindings?) on your shelves! We have that same edition of The Scottish Chiefs, plus a bunch more classics in the same N.C. Wyeth-illustrated editions (including some of your favorites by Stevenson and Cooper). Those are on a shelf in my brother's room now. We went through all the books in the house recently, and I had to 'rescue' a bunch that would have been added to the outgoing pile if I hadn't found room on my shelves...I have to decide whether I want them or not, or if I can persuade someone else to take them. :) Our collection of hardback Hentys, meanwhile, has moved to the parlor, because they have the handsomest bindings (and actually match each other) and hence look nice in our entertainment center.

    1. As soon as you get those books arranged, I hope you'll do one of these posts: I'm a very nosy person and love seeing other people's shelves. It's especially fun when I recognize old favorites.

      I've seen several N.C. Wyeth-illustrated Coopers and Stevensons, but don't own any myself; my editions are pretty mismatched. I have very few complete sets of any author, actually, except Austen. Those brown books on the far left of the top white shelf are old G.A. Henty novels, which I'm afraid I haven't read. We also had a nice hardback set of newer editions, but that went with my brother when he moved out and is now looking very trim on a bookcase in his and my sister-in-law's house.

      Oh, what books are you getting rid of? If any are absolutely doomed, I'd love to take a peek and perhaps rescue them. Even though I really don't have room...

    2. Oh, there's several boxes full in our cellar waiting to be sorted and taken to a used-book store. Let's see, there's Thackeray's Vanity Fair, a Selected Stories of O. Henry (not needed now that I have the complete stories!), some Alcott and Nesbit books and Charlotte Yonge's The Little Duke (which are being replaced with Kindle versions), Tea With Jane Austen and In the Garden With Jane Austen...David McCullough's John Adams, Truman and 1776—excellent, but no one else is interested in them, and I guess I can get them from the library if I ever want to read them again.

      I'm hanging onto my Story of the Confederate States and Stonewall Jackson's letters to his wife, because I feel I might need them for research if/when I write Civil War fiction, which I'd like to do. And I'm currently custodian of the family collection of Dickens, but I wish I could find another place for him so I can make more room on my shelf.

      Do you have an e-reader? I can't recall if you've ever mentioned. Technically I could convert all my public-domain classics to Kindle editions, but I kind of hate to do that...I'm one of those people who never fully trust technology. Whatever would we do if something befell "the Cloud"? :)

    3. McCullough! He's an excellent writer; I thoroughly enjoyed "John Adams" and "Mornings on Horseback." My father has copies of "John Adams" and "1776," but I don't. Harumph. I don't have any Nesbit, either, which I feel is a weakness on my part. It seems that every library should at least have "The Railway Children." My sister-in-law is a fan of Charlotte Yonge and has a really lovely little hardback of "The Little Duke" - purple clothbound, I think, with a smooth inset illustration on the cover. She read it to me years ago, so I have good memories of that.

      I don't have an e-reader. They are wonderfully efficient, and of course take up no room, but I can't reconcile myself to the idea of not reading a physical book. I find something impersonal about reading on a screen, even when I'm just doing brief research, and I don't think I could thoroughly enjoy reading e-books. And, too, there is something comfortable in the knowledge that a book will never run out of juice.

  2. GAH, i NEED SHELF SPACE! HELP! haha, I really enjoyed this post, Abigail, even if it reminded me only too keenly of how I need more space for my books; the bedroom in which Gracie and I sleep in is relatively small with two large wardrobes for clothes and I only have one tall, narrow bookcase to put all my books in plus two shelves in one of the wardrobes that have my 'lesser' books an Encyclopedia series (Encyclopedia Britannica?). And lately, I've been working on saving for more books (i.e. the other day I bought Kidnapped (looks sooo EXCITING!) and the Secret Garden (with a vintage book cover) and ordered online The Ballad of the White Horse, Treasure Island (happy now?) and The Bronze Bow and I don't have an inkling as to where I can put them :p. I am hoping that I can cajole my parents to buy a shelf to place in the Rumpus Room outside our bedroom where I can put all my books, though I am worried that Dad is considering the possibility of buying me an ipad to cure me of my obsession with real-touch books (such a terrifying prospect)!

    How many shelves DO you have and are they in your bedroom? You've got such organized shelves and the way you've set your books together just makes me happy! The cover of Narnia is beautiful and I like Scottish Chief as well... (I need to read this book!). I am curious as to know where the copy of your own novel happily resides on your shelf though...

    1. I think needing more shelf space is a perennial problem for readers - I know I could use a little more room! I have six shelves in the white bookcase, two in the entertainment unit (which can be packed two-book deep), and then I have a small extra bookcase filled with my dad's books. It really isn't very much, but I do try to keep it orderly.

      Sounds like you got yourself a nice haul! "The Secret Garden" is a childhood favorite, and of course you know my opinion of Stevenson. I've not read Chesterton's "Ballad," and it's been many years since I read "The Bronze Bow," but I hope you enjoy them as well. As for finding places to put them, whenever I order books I'm sure I don't have a spot left, but I always manage to squeeze them in somehow. It's really quite a satisfying feeling.

  3. Mmm, I would love to visit your library! ;) All the classics together like good friends! Quite a few I'm interested in looking up. Have you read Wuthering Heights? There's a bit of a dark side to it, which I don't like, but I love the writing style of Emily Bronte. Same as John Steinback. If I could take the time to highlight the five sware words on every page, his books would be my absolute favorite. There's realism in his writing like none I've ever read.
    If you ever want a new look for you bookshelves, you could always put contact paper along the back in your color/pattern choice. It looks so lovely!


    1. I have not read "Wuthering Heights" yet - isn't that awful? I think it's one of those books that readers either love or hate, and I have a feeling I'll end up being in the second camp. However, I've really got to pick it up and plow through it one of these days. I know the Bronte sisters' writing styles are very beautiful.

      What a clever design idea! I'd never thought of doing that before, but it would be a nice update for an inexpensive bookcase - though I'm afraid it would take more than contact paper to make my entertainment unit good-looking.


meet the authoress
I am a writer of historical fiction and fantasy, scribbling from my home in the United States. More importantly, I am a Christian, which flavors everything I write. My debut novel, "The Soldier's Cross," was published by Ambassador Intl. in 2010.
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published writings

The Soldier's Cross: Set in the early 15th Century, this is the story of an English girl's journey to find her brother's cross pendant, lost at the Battle of Agincourt, and of her search for peace in the chaotic world of the Middle Ages.
finished writings

Tempus Regina:Hurled back in time and caught in the worlds of ages past, a Victorian woman finds herself called out with the title of the time queen. The death of one legend and the birth of another rest on her shoulders - but far weightier than both is her duty to the brother she left alone in her own era. Querying.
currently writing

Wordcrafter: "One man in a thousand, Solomon says / will stick more close than a brother. / And it's worthwhile seeking him half your days / if you find him before the other." Justin King unwittingly plunges into one such friendship the day he lets a stranger come in from the cold. Wordcount: 124,000 words

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