The strange satisfaction

of re-ordering one's bookshelf.

We don't have a lot of books in California. Most of them are in Paris: the ones I read in high school, then university, the favourite kids' books, the poetry. When we downsized there, the most important part of the move was planning linear feet of book-space, so that books that had been scattered hither-thither around various rooms. Eventually we had to close a set of double doors to create more wall space in the new place.

Then, two years ago, we thought it would be prudent to get our own place here, even though we were happy renting. And I went to Ikea and brought home a long black bookshelf for the long wall beside the bed. A poetry place. It's maybe a quarter full, but each time I go to Paris I weed out a few more books to settle here--a lot of Larkin? Divide them between my continents? Etc.

Last week I rearranged them. It involved separating the B's (a lot of B's, which include a collection of Bonnefoy, whom I have translated, and Baudelaire, whom I'm translating) from the A's: ie, moving everything down a shelf or two (a lot of H's, too, gave them a shelf by themselves). This took a week or so, and it was a pleasant distraction. Now I look from bed to books: the vertical ones, the ones lying flat, the objets (family photographs, empty tea boxes, a cage for crickets, postcards from art exhibits), and it is good.