The bookcase dispute: the Art of War pales in comparison


I have this lovely husband who’s as voracious a reader as I am. Our bookcases, which cover two entire walls in our living room, are so heavy that we had to screw them to the wall. Nevermind health and safety! What I could not accept is the travesty of writing a blog called ofglassandbooks and being crushed under a ton of my own books and shatter like glass.

Over the 20 years spent together as a couple, my husband and I had numerous debates about who owns what shelf and – by default – what books on that shelf. The Art of War pales in comparison to the scheming and plotting that went into the final agreement.

The agreement is largely harmonious. I chose ‘largely’ for a reason: how large is large? Take it or leave it, I’d say it covers the main principles but certainly not the detail.

I’ll give you an example. We moved house a few years ago. This opened a narrow and strategically invaluable opportunity to re-negotiate which shelves belonged to whom. Take the very top one, next to the ceiling. Did my better half really think his 5 foot 4 wife would climb up there? No, Sir; Madam fought for the middle shelves for herself and her books…well, OK, for the sake of peace in the family I did end up with half of the very bottom one, equally inconvenient to reach, but a little safer. The compromise was uncomfortable but necessary. This shelf is a bit of a no man’s land. His half is devoted to film, travel and music reviews; mine has diet and exercise books, Sophie Kinsella writing as herself and as her alter ego, and a few second hand books that look a little tatty.

Take example 2: the ‘neighbourhood’ dispute. You really think Madam was going to accept her foreign language collections near his whole Donna Leon series, when Mrs Leon herself refused to translate her books in Italian for fear of her Venetian hosts turning nasty against her? (It seems Leon’s books make unkind remarks about certain traits of Italian society…) An alternative bookcase was purchased to host my French, Italian and German books, although this too has become territorially challenged and suffers wars of conquest more frequently than not.

Take example 3: I like my books arranged by edition, not just author – one can’t judge a book by its cover, but hundreds of covers need some kind of colour scheme! Hubby’s happy with themes. Themes don’t do colour schemes, they look ugly.

I particularly like example 4 titled ‘The recommending and lending debacle’. It goes something like this:

We buy our own books.

And? How’s this contentious? I hear you say.

You obviously don’t know us. We love each other, this is how it’s contentious, and when you are in love you are occasionally prepared to recommend and lend your own books to each other. Hubby accepts my recommendations; he reads them; I feel tremendously proud of my own good judgment; hubby ends up liking my recommendations too much; he shifts the position of the borrowed books from my shelves to his with Machiavellian dexterity; I put the books back where they belong; they disappear again; and again…


This is the most recent list of ‘borrowed’ books that disappeared from my shelves and reappeared on his:

The 5 people you meet in heaven, Mitch Albom (Ha, he clearly hasn’t read Tuesdays with Morrie!)

The Autograph man, Zadie Smith, incredulously (but also luckily) leaving behind White teeth and On beauty

The Curious incident of the dog in the night, Mark Haddon (Why ever not A spot of bother?)

The Buddha of Suburbia, Hanif Kureishi

The Shipping news, Annie Proulx (Postcards, and Out of range stayed in my territory)

Love and nausea, David Wilson, unjustly underrated book, that’s all I have to say, but nevertheless mine.


The debate: should I continue to recommend good reads from my shelves to hubby?

Please vote. A simple yes and not will do.



About ofglassandbooks

Who, me? A fan of good reads and glass jars experiences; budding fiction writer in the very little and spare time available...
This entry was posted in books that influence, Books, reading, reviews, Books, reading, reviews, jars, glass and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

8 Responses to The bookcase dispute: the Art of War pales in comparison

  1. I’d say to keep recommending titles to him, but maybe give him a copy that you checked out of the local library (not sure if that will really work but it might be worth a try!).

  2. emilie says:

    I think yes. There is something interesting about the lending of books. Many books I have lent to friends have not made it back to my shelves. I have long since accepted that they will not be returning. I kind of like the idea of books of mine traveling from hand to hand, shelf to shelf. Books are so personal and when we lend them, we are giving a little bit of ourselves to others. Maybe I am an egoist, but I like the idea of pieces of me ending up on random bookshelves. Books are for sharing anyways.

  3. micah says:

    I loved this post!!! It describes a bit the relationships in my origin family!!! You could see loving fathers and sisters deliberately robbing each other of books (and denying it ever happened). In my home as a married woman all books belong to me, as my Husband is a scientist with lots of scientific articles and reviews and absolutely no taste for fiction!!!… Of course I have to share with my own children (finding my Jane Austen Collection in my teen age daughter’s room, or my ever so loved Harry potter collection under my little one’s bed, my Asimov classics under my 15 year old boy’s pillow -or stacked in a corner in the bathroom… always a good place to read in).

    • Micah,
      I love the family picture you described! It seems however that you are very apt at tracking your books…(under your little one’s bed….under your 15 year old’s pillow….) Do you do a search job every week or month? He he
      Thanks for visiting!

  4. Nice Post. Its really a very good article. I noticed all your important points. Thanks”

  5. Yes. 🙂

    You are so lucky to have this dispute with your husband! My husband is not a reader, so I have the bookcases all to myself – but I wish he would read. I would enjoy sharing and discussing books with him.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s