Book shelves series #36, thirty-sixth Sunday of 2012
Continuing the corner book shelf in the family room.
The bookends are tschotskes from a ¥100 shop; we bought them years ago in Tokyo.
Not particularly fancy but they have a sentimental value. (The big guy is a tanuki, if you’re unfamiliar).
The tin on the far left is filled with miscellaneous papers, old stickers, other small bricabrac.
Only four books on this shelf—the more-or-less complete works of J.D. Salinger, in gloriously ratty mass paperback editions:
Not sure if these are my wife’s or mine—probably a mix of both. I stole most of these from my high school.
The Catcher in the Rye was as important to me as any other book, I suppose. I wrote about it here.
Nine Stories contains some of Salinger’s most disciplined stuff.
It took me years to finally find the discipline to read Seymour, which is probably the best thing he wrote.
I haven’t read any of Nagai Kafu’s 1917 novel Rivalry: A Geisha’s Tale (new in paperback from Columbia University Press in translation from Stephen Snyder) because my wife immediately took it and started reading it. I think she’s almost finished with it. I can only assume it involves some kind of rivalry, probably between geisha. I’ll ask her (the following is a more or less an accurate transcription of wife’s comments to me from the kitchen as she prepared some kind of corn salad):
Um, it’s about this geisha, who, when she was like 17, 18 became a geisha, then got married and moved out to the country, this is like in her early 20s, and after a couple of years her husband died, so she went back to Tokyo back to her old geisha house and ran into one of her former, um, clients, and he fell in love with her like immediately so they started a relationship but she fell in love with an actor, but then, I’m not finished with it, but the client found out about the affair, so he’s going to patronize this rival geisha. Which I guess is why, Rivalry.
Do you like it?
I mean, it’s what you’d expect from a geisha book, I mean it’s about a geisha. It’s a good geisha story.
My wife reports she’s about half way through it and wants to find out how it will end.
1.4. Things which aren’t books but are often met with in libraries
Photographs in gilded brass frames, small engravings, pen and ink drawings, dried flowers in stemmed glasses, matchbox-holders containing, or not, chemical matches (dangerous), lead soldiers, a photograph of Ernest Renan in his study at the College de France, postcards, dolls’ eyes, tins, packets of salt, pepper and mustard from Lufthansa, letter-scales, picture hooks, marbles, pipe-cleaners, scale models of vintage cars, multicoloured pebbles and gravel, ex-votos, springs.
—From Georges Perec’s essay “The Art and Manner of Arranging One’s Books”
Book shelves series #20, twentieth Sunday of 2012: In Which I Try to Prove I Am Not Just Phoning It In
Last week I was accused of “going through the motions” with this project, which accusation may or may not be true. I was out of town on vacation, and last week’s post was composed a few days ahead of time in a harried rush of end-of-the-semester grading + summer semester planning + packing + bad bad writer’s block.
The shelf featured last week is the top shelf in the shot above.
Here is a detail of the shelf below, which clearly features things which are not books:
My wife and I—not actually married at the time, kids really—bought these kokeshi dolls when we were living in Japan. We lived in Tokyo, but I’m almost positive we bought these on a vacation in Kyoto. (Or maybe it was in Kamakura. Or I suppose it could have been in Tokyo).
The screen in the background was a gift from a student, as was the screen in the shot below, a shelf that twins this one (if anyone cares at all, the shelf would be sequenced between shelves 10 and 11).
Book shelves series #4, fourth Sunday of 2012: In which we finally leave the master bedroom and check out the books in my children’s rooms.
In the previous weeks, I illustrated that my kids — a girl and a boy, 4 and 1, respectively (tack on a “half” to each of those numbers if you care to) — my kids leave books all over the house. Their books are everywhere. They are as bad as I am. I indicated at the beginning of this year-long series that the documentation would never be stable or absolute; that books float through my house, come and go like bad house guests or silly ghosts—this is probably more true of the children’s books in this house than any other kind of book.
This week, I photograph the book shelves in my kids’ rooms, starting with my daughter’s. This is her big bookshelf:
I did not photograph the big pile of books that set to the left. A close up of any of these shelves would reveal a mix of classics—stuff that my wife and I read and cherished as kids—and newer stuff as well. Here’s a shelf, sort of at random—it’s unusually well-organized:
There’s a lot of Studio Ghibli books here; most narrativize Hayao Miyazaki’s films (we’re big fans in this house). My daughter loves these. The bible was my bible; the blue-spined book is this:
You might also note a book version of Jim Henson’s creepy classic The Dark Crystal; this was mine as a kid and it disturbed the hell out of me, so I gave it to my daughter, of course:
The Studio Ghibli books combine beautiful stills of the film with narrative prose and comic book speech bubbles. From the standpoint of a fan of the films, they’re really interesting because they explicate some of the ambiguity. Our daughter loves them and asks for them (too much!):
Another shelf from another book shelf—the only shelf with books on it in this piece of furniture, actually. Not interesting, but I said I’d photograph all book shelves as part of this project:
Before my wife and I married, we lived in Tokyo for a while; we bought a bunch of these board books at a 100 yen shop. Here’s one:
Night stand: always a place of shelving instability:
The book shelf in my son’s room—lots of board books, Eric Carle, stuff like that. He likes trains and dogs:
So, I covered both of the kid’s rooms in one post in the hopes of getting to more interesting volumes in the next few weeks. On deck: the den/kitchen space, featuring cookbooks, art books, and travel volumes.