I’m now in that state of summer leisure mixed with the responsibility of providing entertainment for the kids that causes a man to forget what day it is of the week. And so a week’s fun is no longer restricted to its last two days. But I have done nothing grandiose lately: mainly pottered about and enjoyed being reunited with my lady wife after her recent visit to the in-laws.

Anyway, Friday and Saturday were largely taken up by housework of the interior decoration kind. My dad likes to suggest grandiose changes to our house and incite my wife into supporting his ideas, but as he also invariably offers to perform the work in question I can’t complain. I felt that one short wall of our large living room needed re-painting and the construction of a large wall-hung book case. While I was busy with this wall, my dad and my wife painted all the other three walls and the ceiling. Now we have 24 glorious metres of shelves and nicer-coloured walls.

When it comes to bookshelves, I am a passive plaything of women. My first bookshelf I found next to the laundry room when I was in student housing — thanks, Lady Fortune. My second one I bought to match my first wife’s shelves. No 3 I bought to match No 2. And now I have just gotten shelves as per a design by my dad’s wife, who used to head the Swedish interior decorators’ association. What is my own true wish in bookshelves? I shall most likely never know. But it felt good to start getting our books out of the cardboard boxes and onto the new shelves last night.

Leaving my dad to apply the last coat of paint this morning, we headed out to my mom’s place in the archipelago. (Near Djurhamn, the harbour site where I’ve done fieldwork.) Sunshine, wind, rounded grey cliffs, pine trees. I live beside the main Medieval shipping lane from the Continent to Stockholm. This is beside the Early Modern route. No ghost ships though.


  1. #1 carocha
    July 13, 2009

    Lovely post!

  2. #2 Nariane
    July 13, 2009

    Renovate and run! good strategy. 😉

    I don’t mind people’s grandiose projects IF they also help…

    Enjoy your family get away…

  3. #3 Nick Dvoracek
    July 13, 2009

    My wife is not a national figure in the decorating world, but she is pretty talented at it. I live in a little palace, and I really appreciate it.

  4. #4 DianaGainer
    July 13, 2009

    May I make a small suggestion, passed along from a friend with experience with bookshelves and badly behaved books which fall from shelves with little provocation. Paint the shelf upon which the books rest with the kind of paint which has a rough texture, the kind bridges and such are usually painted with. Then fasten a strip of fine sand-paper along the bottom shelf also. This will tend to keep the books in place, so they’ll quit falling down so much. For those of us with libraries at home of 100’s (all right, I admit it, we have 1000’s) of books, this saves effort in the long run. Wieland Kerschner devised this devilishly clever stratagem.

  5. #5 Martin R
    July 13, 2009

    How intriguing! My books never fall off their shelves. Maybe yours are narrower than my foot-wide shelves? Or have you got a poltergeist infestation?

  6. #6 Gabe M
    July 14, 2009

    I envy you! Most of my books remain in cardboard boxes under my parents’ house.

    May I recommend Walter Benjamin’s short essay called “unpacking my library” (in Illuminations) which is a lovely piece of writing about the joy or taking old and much loved/missed books out of their packing boxes.

    Sigh. One day…

  7. #7 Lars l
    July 15, 2009

    There is a another way to handle this. Let the libraries store those books that you “desperately” need for your research! That is: Don´t buy any! Save you a lot of room, money and places for dust to assemble. Try it, you like it! 🙂

  8. #8 Martin R
    July 15, 2009

    Or you can use the LL method and donate loads of books to friends who can then function as stand-by research librarians. (-;

  9. #9 carwinrpc
    July 25, 2009

    Try looking into Rakks shelving. Very simple and very effective.

New comments have been temporarily disabled. Please check back soon.