Over the 3,783 days I’ve known Wendy, we’ve rarely argued. Yet, I vividly remember that the merging of our respective book collections caused some disagreement.
Fiction and general reference book were fine – we had few duplicates, and only really disagreed on whether it was necessary to have several different dictionaries. The Oxford, Penguin and Collins watching me write this remind me that I acquiesced.
When it came to medical books, however, our approaches differed more wildly. I was all for ridding ourselves of duplicates; Wendy was not. Indeed, Wendy was not only reluctant to rid herself of duplicates in our combined collection, but even had duplicates within her own collection: she felt rather strongly that old editions of books should be retained alongside their newer counterparts.
In the end, as with most things in life, we compromised… though made the mistake of compromising on a set that filled our shelves, which means we have to regularly re-compromise as we acquire new volumes.
I was, therefore, amused to read Anne Fadiman’s article on the Book Keeping blog, in which she describes the intimate yet painful process of marrying her own (non-medical) library with that of her husband. This passage in particular made me laugh out loud:
A particularly bad moment occurred while he was in the process of transferring my Shakespeare collection from one bookcase to another and I called out, “Be sure to keep the plays in chronological order!”
“You mean we’re going to be chronological within each author?” he gasped. “But no one even knows for sure when Shakespeare wrote his plays!”
“Well,” I blustered, “we know he wrote Romeo and Juliet before The Tempest. I’d like to see that reflected in our shelves.”
George says that was one of the few times he has seriously contemplated divorce.
It is an absolutely brilliant read, and well worth a few minutes of your time this weekend.
The picture at the top of this post was posted on Flickr by Alexandre Duret-Lutz, and was used under its Creative Commons licence.