Thursday, February 26, 2009

The Grand Old Bookcase

I have been sitting here looking over all the books propped up on the shelves. When we first walked through this house, the large built in bookcase that takes up an entire wall completely caught our eyes. You see, we love books. All different types of books. And to think that we could have a permanent, grand bookcase in our living room that we could fill up with all sorts of precious words really sealed the deal for us. We talked about filling it completely with books and adding to it every year as we collected more books so that in time it would turn into a family library.

The bookcase used to be a cream color and it matched all of the beautiful wood trim in our living room. But since we have remodeled the living room and bedrooms, all of the wood trim is now painted a bright snowy white and rests against walls of red wine and sandy beige. Now, this bookcase pops out like it is the showcase in the room. It says, "Come look at me!" (The poor fireplace is beautiful, too, but it just isn't as grand as the bookcase.)

By itself, the bookcase is something to see. There are three sections to it and each section contains 6 shelves and the middle shelf is staggered meaning that its shelves aren't level with the shelves on either side of it making it visually more interesting. The top is trimmed with what looks like crown moulding and it finishes the entire piece. Surely a previous homeowner created this permanent fixture and we will always keep it for as long as we own the home.

It didn't seem possible that anything could make the bookcase look better until my husband began unpacking our boxes of books and started setting them on the shelves. With every book that was placed on the shelf, the colors, size and textures of the books made the bookcase become something more than furniture but a showcase of information, knowledge and entertainment. I scanned the books as they were placed on the shelves getting excited when I would come across something that I hadn't seen in years or never finished reading once the girls were born. We have all sorts of paperback fiction books, books left over from college studies, various self help books, extra Bibles, small group books and some keepsake books.

It was amazing to look over all those pieces of literature and see how each represented a specific time in our lives. It describes far better than a picture or even one of our fleeting memories about what we were doing and more importantly, what was on our mind. I can look at some of those crazy self help books that we read while we were trying to lose weight, get in shape, figure out our finances or try to climb the corporate ladder. Just seeing some of those titles makes me remember it all because those words in between the cover influenced me in some way. I know that upon closing a book after reading the final word, I was forever changed.

Does that mean that I agree or take to heart everything that I read? No. But I can always appreciate someone's experiences and gain a deeper understanding why others may do what they do. Or I can close the book and inventory my own philosophy better because I have been introduced to another way of thinking. So, no matter what, reading a book can change a person by swaying them to agree with the author or by helping to make their own opinion more concrete by the introduction of other viewpoints.

Books can inspire, uplift or empower us to change the world. Books can also frighten, create caution or provide impending doom about our world. Words can change a person's mood and set in motion the "mind's eye" to dream about what characters really look like and what voice you imagine that person to really have. Ever been completely disappointed by a movie that was based on a book? No producer can ever come close to re-creating the amazing relationship that lives between the pages in our beloved book and the imagination that swirls in our mind.

Books bring back memories of life altering changes. Like, when I was in high school and questioned the Bible and was angry with God about the death of my father. My book choices reflected my interest in seeking more answers in the world and other religions trying to find some sort of sense. And then there is a newer section of books that shows how I fell back into His arms grateful to be home again. (There is one book that will never sit upon this shelf and that is my personal study Bible...its in use.)

All of the books on the shelf make sense. Every book shows our likes and dislikes. There are books about wine, travel, jazz music and Frank Sinatra along with books about buying a home, fly fishing, knitting and gardening in the Midwest. They show the transition of two, crazy twenty-something kids into somewhat older, (still crazy) thirty-somethings with...wait a minute...something is different...

I walk over to a whole new shelf of books that I don't recognize. None of these books are from my youth or my husband's youth. They are actually quite brand new looking. Stories about green eggs, alphabets, children's Bible storybooks and nursery rhymes.

Another transition.

Of course, I have seen all of these books before as they have been gifted to the girls at showers, birthdays and Christmases. To see them all lined up, having a place of their own ready for the girls to crack open the cover and get lost in their own imagination, makes me excited. These books represent a change in our lives and perspective, but also they represent a whole new beginning. The girls are starting a collection of their own and I can only pray that they fall in love with books, too. And in the years to come we will all add to our family library and continue to be forever changed by the thoughts of another.

There are many empty book shelves in this grand old bookcase. It will be a long time before we can fill it up completely. But those empty shelves are a promise. They are a promise there will be new stories, new ideas and new experiences waiting for us to find. What will we read ten years from now? What books will the girls curl up with when they are teenagers?

I can't even imagine but as I walk away, I hear the grand old bookcase say, "I will be ready. I will be ready."


Morgan said...

How cool to have a bookscase like that! I would like to someday have a house with bookshelves lining a wall.

Very true in that looking at our choices in books from the past can tell a lot about what we were experiencing at the time.

You should post a picture of your bookshelf!

Helene said...

It must be such a beautiful bookcase!! I have so many boxes of books just sitting in a closet b/c we don't have a bookcase! I love how yours tells a story of each period in your life. It's really amazing to look at it like that!!

Hajar said...

That sounds like a gorgeous book case. :)
I had to give away so many of my books when I got pregnant and we both lost our jobs and had no money to rent a truck to move with. I did manage to salvage some of my old favorites and the most mind-bending ones, but I really weeded out some good ones. I passed as many on to friends as I could, so at least they would be with people I know, and the rest I donated to the public library.
I had always imagined that I would have the kind of shelf you are talking about. Now the few cherished books I still have are sealed up in diaper cartons. I see a sort of ironic switch in my dreams and expectations through this scenario. Before my books were my children, now my children are my books.
I would still be proud of a bookshelf like that, if I ever aqcuired one, by chance.

Jennifer said...

Great story. Sounds like a beautiful part of your home. We have a lot of books too. Ours are 90 percent childrens books. Our 6yr old has been read to every night since he was born, that takes a lot of books. And now the twins. They love books too.

glitzen said...

Oh, I too want to see a picture! Your post was so wonderful, I read it over and over. I am such a lover of books, and such a silly collector of self-help. I used to say that I would have a self-help book started for each family member, and most of the pets too! I still do that. LOL.
Please a picture of your bookcase, I'm in love with it already, just from dreaming of such a thing!

Kim said...

I'm a bookworm, so you can imagine how much I love this post!