Charles-Adam Foster-Simard has a piece about re-organizing his bookshelves that fellow bibliophiles should appreciate. Writing that his old system of classification was "far from optimal" and "create[d] rifts between ideas and eras, or tensions where there shouldn't be any," he decided to reorganize his 500-volume library: "I know it is time to take all the books out, dust off the shelves, and start again from scratch." Part of his problem was that this reorganization was of a living library:
I admit, with a hint of guilt, that I have not read all the books I own. Not even close. The majority of them, yes (I hope), but far from all of them. Despite the incredible amount of reading left for me to do before I really know my library, almost every week I buy more books. [...] While I have shelves full of books I have not read at home, I keep on thinking about which books I'm going to buy next. Although minor, this problem does create a fair amount of anxiety, essentially caused by the fact that I simply don't read enough.
He calls the process of emptying his shelves "long -- and tedious. Not in the physical sense, but in one that is, of sorts, moral:"
Removing all those books was the undoing of something that was set, a collection which, it seems, had built itself up, slowly, purposefully, into a cohesive whole. The work of an oyster.
After discussing the unread books on his shelves and the next volumes he intends to add to them, he writes that his library "is full of hopes and holes:"
Thus I have a second library, in my mind, of which my real, physical book collection is only the tip (to use that famous iceberg metaphor). Underneath my shelves lie all the books I want, all the books I should have (dictated by the canon, or recommendations from friends and famous people), all the books I need, like Borges' fabulous Library of Babel, extending out into book-lined room after book-lined room, infinitely.
Now, you will have to excuse me, but I have to stop this business -- I have some reading to do.