Bookish Thoughts

Here at the Maison Des Girrafes we only ever had one rule for the kids as they were growing up. Except that it wasn’t even a rule. What it was, was this:

No Reasonable Request for Books Will Ever Be Denied

I am happy to report that the Offspring, who have flown the nest, are highly literate individuals currently at college, and are as well-balanced and happy as you’d expect with me as their father. We must have been doing something write right, though, given that a recent study showed that children brought up with more books are generally more literate in later life than those not so fortunate.

Chez Gee is absolutely stuffed with books, as you’d expect, given the interests of the parents. 

Mrs Gee has a degree in what would now be called media studies; is a former journalist, sometime classroom assistant, full-time hoarder and now a student nurse, who’s taken up many classes and interests during her three careers, and has left a trail of textbooks, cookbooks, novels, and other stuff in her wake. 

And I’m a writer (a calling that implies a fondness for books), occasional academic, and a longtime editor with a large publishing house, an environment in which to stand still for any length of time means that one runs the risk of being buried in a constantly falling shower of books. Let’s see. There are review copies sent to my place of work;  copies of other books that other people have sent me to review; books that people send me because they like me, or because I’ve sent them some of mine, or both; and books for which whose existence in my extensive library I am at a loss to account, except that I haven’t stolen them. 

Our idea of a fun family treat (at least, before the lockdown) was to browse in bookshops, especially secondhand ones — a love we have passed on to both Offspring, and especially Offspring 2, now studying history. The main suppository repository depository place where books are found Chez Gee is in my Home Orifice, which used to be the kitchen, and which has shelves in every available space.

The Home Orifice, Recently

The Shelves in the Home Orifice are now full, and have spilled out into some shelves in the front hall. And the kitchen. And the sitting room. The rooms of both Offspring are crammed with books. The only rooms where no books are found are the utility cupboard, the bathroom, and our bedroom — for fear of attracting dust. Although they do tend to build up in small drifts on the windowsill and nightstand if we aren’t careful.

I suspect, however, that our home library is modest by some standards (I have visited houses of academics where books are found in the bathroom, for example). I had the pleasure of knowing a senior scientist at a large botanical garden who had lived most of his life in a house that went with the job. Being a botanist and keen antiquarian he had spent his career collecting books about plants. On his retirement, he and his wife (the kids had long since left home) had to find somewhere else to live. They were looking, so he told me, for a house with seven bedrooms. One for them; a spare room — and FIVE for the books. FIVE.

About Henry Gee

Henry Gee is an author, editor and recovering palaeontologist, who lives in Cromer, Norfolk, England, with his family and numerous pets, inasmuch as which the contents of this blog and any comments therein do not reflect the opinions of anyone but myself, as they don't know where they've been.
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One Response to Bookish Thoughts

  1. Alastair Ross says:

    A glimpse of a library and also Prof RP Oliver’s Classicist view of , Apostolic Cambridge :

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