Wednesday, September 24, 2008


Ross's bookcase in Narvik

I have been meaning since Ross's to blog on bookshelves. It was fantastic in Narvik to enter the home of a kiwi, the little things, korus, kiwi music and a familiar space. But what really attracted me was the bookshelf, rows of it (not all in English mind you). It got me thinking of the way bookshelfs shape you and some of the bookshelfs that have shaped me.

First I remember my parents bookshelf in the hall at Waitati. The hall seemed so long, you could play hockey up and down it when you were 7, and the books stretched 2/3 of it on one side. I didn't really get many of those books then, except Alistair McLean, I was addicted to them, the Guns of Navarone and Where Eagles Dare still pop into my head. So do the boys own adventure stories, and my all time favourite Charles Upham's "A Mark of a Lion" The bookshelf at my grandparents at Bowenvale was less fruitful for a young eye, too many books about alpine plants;-) I do remember a couple of books though, one a fictionalised account of oil drilling in the north sea, the other a story of someone who had 12 kids, later made into the film "cheapest by the dozen".The best thing about their bookshelf was its mustiness and mysteriousness, it felt like the books had been there forever.

My other grandparents had rugby books galore, and all kinds of other stuff, which I have only come to appreciate later. Indeed their books have a bad habit of ending in my bookcase, I can think of a couple of goodies; Michael Kings "Hidden Places", a lesser known work by the brilliant NZ historian reflecting on his early career and some of the people he metand John Glubb's "A short history of the Arab people" a fascinating and readable record of the spread of Islam.

Overtime I developed my own bookshelf, overfill with political ravings and natural history, short of the fast paced novels (which keep disappearing). Still half full of books I intend to read. Occasions such as the 24hr book sale or the re-organisation of the Amerley Public library, leave a long backlog. Its sitting in boxes around the country at the moment.

Other bookshelves of note, include that of Tom (six mug) Riley my twice flat mate who has enough in common with my tastes, but not too much, so there are new challenges, and Zoe and Nicks little collection I was known to retreat to during long winter Gisborne nights talking about medicine. Family friends Bruce and Dinah also deserve a mention for their bookshelf, and their Footrot flats and Bogor collections.And yeah Marquita (not Garden) has some good books to, I submitted to Harry Potter there and Tuesdays with Morrie.

But yeah I'm missing the point about bookshelves really, its not so much the reading, its the browsing, the hunting, the curiosity of eclectic collections. The feel and smell of the books! The shelves themselves, the arrangement, the neatness or messiness, piles or symmetry, the shelf of bigger books with pictures to flick through....heres a toast to bookshelves and all that have them!!!

1 comment:

Ross said...

oh well, there is one consolation about having one's sparse bookshelves exposed on the internet... at least it wasn't summarised as consisting of Bogor & Footrot Flats, eh Brucie? (always wondered where they ended up)