More books than shelves

When I was a little girl, I wanted to be a librarian when I grew up. Fueling my dream was the idea of being surrounded by books all the time. I couldn't think of anything nicer.

As it turned out, my career path led in other directions, but I've always owned enough books that I could have set up my own small lending library.

Blame it on being a writer, on being married to another voracious reader - and on not using the public library enough.

Last weekend I had to organize my garden books. If you're a fellow readaholic, you know this scenario well: The volumes of your favorite genre have overflowed the available shelves until not one thin paperback can be slipped in anywhere.

So you buy another bookcase. And this means reorganizing everything. I made a list of categories that my books would logically fit into - everything from annuals to water gardens. There were 19 of them. And only 16 shelves.

As it turned out, that wasn't my biggest problem. When you have separate shelves for lawns, ground covers, and vines, which one should be home to a book that discusses them all? Multiply that question by countlessbooks, and I began wishing I had become a librarian. Then I'd know what to do.

When all was sorted out to my satisfaction, there were several boxes of books that I reluctantly had to admit I didn't need anymore. Ross Atkin's article (at right) inspired me to call and inquire about donating the volumes to the next Friends of the Library sale. I'll get a tiny tax write-off and a good feeling about someone enjoying my discarded books; the library can use the money to buy more new books.

It's a solution that might make a librarian proud.

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