Photos by Kaye Ford
Books and reading have been a cornerstone of my life ever since I can remember. When I wasn’t reading (I had a complete set of fabric hardback Disney books that I’d carry around everywhere with me), I’d be spelling, and Mum would constantly be telling me off for reading in the dark after she’d put me to bed. I’d retort by sleeping with books under my pillow and then sneaking out of bed to read them sat on my windowsill, lit by moonlight.
At primary school, we were encouraged to read voraciously. We had reading logs – red exercise books – and my teacher taught us how to draw tables up so that we could log when we started and finished a book, the title and author, plus a line to write a review. Think of it as an old-school Goodreads 😉 I’d receive gold star stickers for how many books I could fly through each term, and loved getting home and reading with Mum.
I also adored weekend reading. Mum had a library card and it was pretty much a ‘doves flying out from her purse, golden spun light radiating’ situation whenever she said it was time to visit the library. She’d borrow recipe books and video tapes, I’d gather armfuls of colourful books from the kids’ section. I absolutely loved browsing the shelves of our local library and I still do. I suppose it was a combination of those early experiences and my love for Beauty and the Beast that led me to endlessly wish for a library room, one day.
As my online content naturally steers towards more and more bookish posts – only to be expected as I try and use Daisybutter to somewhat naturally log my everyday as well editorial – I’ve received more and more messages about my collection. How do I store it? Where do all my books go? Why do I have so many books? So I thought I’d sit down and pen an ode to my book collection and share a little more about my bookish life…
Why do you have so many books?
Like I mentioned before, I’ve adored books my entire life. I found comfort in them when I was bullied throughout my formative years and I just love the ritual of flicking through the pages. I love the sound of the pages as I flick through, and the weighty surety when I hold a book. It sounds a bit woo-woo, but it’s true!
With that in mind, I’ve found over the years that every book I read becomes imbued with memories; it becomes a token of a very specific moment in my time, whether that’s an everyday commute, those 15 minutes I had to spare before my last ever dissertation meeting, immersive passages of a book read during a flight to Malaysia…
Moreover, they hold the lessons they teach and I think with everything you read, it shapes and steers you in minute ways you’ll never notice until many years later. Stories of fictional heroines facing trauma I’ll hopefully never know, harrowing tales known through memoirs that show me a different side of the world. I like collecting the books I read, especially those I loved, because it creates a library of memories and lessons. Whenever I stay in Airbnbs, I love looking at the book selections on display and feel it gives a good insight into what a person is like and how they think.
How do you store your books? Where do your books go?
My books are all stored at home, across a few bookcases. Primarily, they’re housed in IKEA Billy bookcases in the family study, but you’ll also find them in the bookcase on our landing, on top of my dresser, on my bedside table and in the homes of my friends. For our first home, I’ve been researching custom built, floor-to-ceiling bookcases so that they can create more of a grand statement in their own right, rather than being hidden away in an office, and so my collection can continue to grow. I don’t buy books for decorative purposes and never really have, so I’m kind of excited to dive into the world of coffee table books for our place!
In terms of where my books ‘go’, I keep pretty much everything. It sounds indulgent and I suppose it is, but there’s nothing else in my life that I hold on to so fastidiously! I often lend books to friends (as long as the spine isn’t cracked when it comes back).
With books that I’ve perhaps not enjoyed quite so much, I donate them to local charity shops (I support the British Heart Foundation, Oxfam and Cancer Research UK) or sell them at shipping price on Depop. Plus, I like the idea of my future kids being able to read the exact copies of the books I adored when I was their age.
How do you organise your books?
I’m really boring! My books are simply organised in alphabetical order by the author’s surname. I find this to be the most practical organisation solution in terms of being able to easily find a book again (whether to loan to a friend, to reread, or use in a shoot). However since watching more and more bookshelf tours on YouTube, I’ve been considering grouping them by genre or theme. We’ll see, oh?
How do you read so much?
Honestly, I don’t think I read much more than my fellow readers! As I write this post, it’s mid-October and I’ve completed 41 books in 2019, with another four on the go. Personally, I believe it’s a mix of enjoying what I’m reading and finding the right time to do so, rather than the whole idea of ‘making time to read’.
For absolutely ages, I’d push myself to continue to read books even when I wasn’t necessarily enjoying it. I have SO many books on my to-be-read list that I can’t afford to complete books that I’m not enjoying. So, a big factor for me is to recognise when a book just isn’t great for me and shelving it as soon as I can. I’ve only ‘did-not-finish’ed a handful of books, but I do think it’s been instrumental in me being able to complete as many books as I have this year.
Moreover, I’m prioritising reading as a hobby these days. The one perk of less blog posts being published (sob!) daily is that I have redirected the hours I’d spend reading blog posts towards books. I of course still read blogs but there just aren’t as many posts published as there used to be. I enjoy reading the most in the morning: I’ll try and read at least a chapter or two before breakfast which sets me up for a good day of reading, particularly if it’s a good book! Then on days where I’m working in-house with clients and need to take the train to London, I’ll read on the commute there and back. There are so many tunnels that it’s almost pointless scrolling on my phone. I also very rarely read before bed because my eyes are always so fatigued from the day that I can’t focus. Instead, I pop a podcast on or listen to music before bed.
On top of all of that, I also just like to put blocks of time aside to read in large chunks as I find I’m able to get into the plot much quicker, and thus my attention is held for longer. Of course this is certainly a luxury for many, but most weekends I’ll just sit and read for perhaps three or four hours whilst Harvey games and when it’s his turn to cook dinner. A bottle of water and a blanket goes a long way to creating the perfect nook to read in, no matter where I am.
Which book has been your longest unread read?
It was probably F. Scott Fitzgerald’s This Side of Paradise which I bought in 2013 and only got round to reading this year! I’m pretty good at reading what’s available to me; I just wish I could say the same about my completely-out-of-control To Be Read list on Goodreads!
Can you show us around your books?
Annoyingly some of my books are in storage already as we prepare to move house, but I finally filmed a bookcase tour last week which you can watch on my IGTV channel. Please enjoy my awkward voice and shaky filming hands!
I truly hope you enjoyed this insight into my love for books, my bookcase situation and my general reading habits. I’d love to know how you store your books; link me to your bookish content!