There were subtle hints.

The shelves were beginning to bow lazily in the center as if sagging in the heat. But it was the weight of too much imagination, double stacked and tiered on nothing more than particle board and glue. Not the fault of the bookcase but the chaotic habits of the owner.

Then, the other morning,  all gave way.

Hardcovers and paperbacks, wooden boxes filled with sea shells and beads, model cars, and CD cases. They came to the floor in a dull but thunderous crash and slid in a heap across the floor. Baby Belle ran for cover. El Gato looked at me with contempt. How could you not know, he said. He was right. The climate change was clearly visible. The glacial mass was shifting. But in the absence of any plan, I denied and waited.

So a visit to the lumber yard, a small bag of clips and a large plank of common pine, the shelves were rebuilt and case steadied against the wall. But, as when the great tombs of Egypt were opened, books that had been hidden behind other books revealed themselves. I found my collection of Henry Roth that had gone missing, a Bukowski blinking in the sudden light, some Raymonds Carver and Chandler. A mysterious unbound copy of a symposium on Einstein brought home from an editing desk.

Yet there are parts left over. So many stored and left unread. Maybe it’s time to abandon the book budget, put away the library card, and dig into the current inventory.

Or build more shelves…

Karl Reads2

Amidst the chaos, Karl picks a few and reads…