My friends and family have always been a big lover of books-- both my mother and father are voracious book readers. They both can read an entire book in just a few short hours and at least for my mother, weekly visits to the new "high-tech" library are common. I think my mother prefers suspense thrillers and my father has every copy of Prevention Magazine and Popular Mechanics from years ago, and in several areas of our family home. I think the golden triangle of my family's passion was wrapped up in a rather large secret bookcase my father built into their New Jersey ranch-style home in 1960.
My father, a marvelous/incredible/totally talented master carpenter, needed a way to conceal a staircase that led from the living/dining room to the attic. Most homes of that era seemed to have an ill-conceived clunky metal folding thing coming down from the ceiling in the hallway that you had to cross your heart before you climbed up. But dad's was different. Dad's had to be custom: instead of a clunky metal stair, my father actually built a full-size, full-length staircase up to the heavens. Oh, he did build a door, but concealed the whole thing behind a secret bookcase. You'd press on the molding of the bookcase "frame" and voila!--- the bookcase would open and you'd feel a rush of cool and musty air blow into your face along with a small "snap" of that trusty mechanism.
You can't even imagine how much fun this was for me and my three brothers. How many pranks we used to play on friends and on each other. How many times we used to hide behind the door. Once, I got locked inside and had to pry myself out. Oh, the stories those books could tell!
My parents are still married, and still together, and still have the bookcase (with that locking mechanism that, to this day, operates like butter.) The bookcase is still filled with the encyclopedias I practically slept with in grade and high school, before computers outdated the now yellow pages. Above the encyclopedias were books on health, the infamous "I'm OK, You're OK" paperback, something by Wayne Dyer, some sort of weight loss Over-eater's book (oh so cleverly covered in contact paper so the reader would not be "discovered") as well as the Sears Catalog. And then there was the Betty Crocker Cookbook-- my favorite of many, many days and nights of trial and error (love those peanut butter cookies with the little fork marks on page 133!) There was something for everyone in "the case." More or less, the heartier books were stored in the cellar.
Such is the power of books. I am sitting in Los Angeles, 2851.7 miles away (thank you Google) and I can picture, in my head, almost every book and every page in that bookcase. How those pages transformed me from toddler to kid, teenager to young man. From adult to a man of 38.
Of course there is a recurring theme in my parent's home, and in the home of many of our organizing Clients. It's a love of books. Or should I say-- passion for books. I've seen Clients give up their family heirloom china to eBay before they'd give up their books. Every once in a while I come across an organizing article that just moves me. There was one recently published in the Los Angeles Times and I just had to share it with readers. Here's an except-- but for the whole story written by Carol Mithers, Special to The Times, you'll have to log onto the site here (membership is free.) Enjoy:
"PEOPLE who fall in love with books usually do so early in life, long before they consider issues of interior design. At some point, though, the ability to live with cinderblock bookshelves ends, leaving bibliophiles with massive collections, nowhere to put them — and nowhere to turn for advice.
The homes that fill the pages of sleek design magazines have everything in them but books. Oh sure, here and there half a dozen volumes turn up, but never too many, and miraculously, they always match, their covers complementary shades of beige and tan that look perfect as they lean just-so on creamy shelves flanked by well-chosen objets d'art.
The collections of true book lovers — scholars, writers, editors, collectors or just insatiable readers — look nothing like this."