02 January 2021

Lars' bookshelves

"I live in the house my grandparents bought in July 1929.  It was already over 100 at the time of their purchase.  If there is any common thread to my bookshelves, it is this: built-in. 

The panels that form the room facing side walls of the bookcases were from a massive pocket door.  I recut it to keep as much of the original stain/varnish as possible, then stain-matched modern hardwood plywood and vintage oak to complete the shelving.  It now houses board games and a collection of comic collections and coffee table size books; the other end holds photo albums and some items still in boxes that we hope to home properly in the coming year.  Beneath is a leather seating area with 2 side cushions atop a twin mattress to accommodate 2 readers sitting feet toward each other with a view of the squirrels romping on the grape arbor out the window.

Nearby is the smallest bookcase - a little space formed between a recently installed  faux raised panel alcove sized for a 1916 upright piano and a pocket door to the stairwell/front entry.   Currently only holding a Finnish English dictionary, collection of DVDs, and a plaster sculpture my grandfather made and my mom modeled for.  Intent is to use the incomplete bottom space for housing some forward-facing children's books in reach for our granddaughter to discover when she visits.  The organic shaped shelves were cut from salvaged maple shelving units discarded from my work -  academic building - in a lab remodel.

Upstairs.  At the head of the stairs, a narrow floor to ceiling shelving unit that rests on a wall within the very solid structure of one of the main bents of the timber frame. this is inboard of the earlier bookcases my grandfather installed.   These shelves are very early IKEA units purchased from the first IKEA store located beyond the Nordic countries (Germany) and shipped to USA in the 1970s.  

This shelving system  holds many of my pop reading pleasures and a portion my brother aptly named "The Incendiary Bookshelf." Here I house some of the oddities that were among my grandparents' many books.  L Ron Hubbard's Dianetics, pamphlets on surviving nuclear attack, socialist & communist tracts, Anne Frank's Diary, U.S. constitution, my copy of Local Literary Hero Nabokov’s Lolita  and... trigger warning... texts of Adolf Hitler. Neither of those were from my grandparents collection, but rather turned up in boxes my mother received in her role as library book sale coordinator.  I culled these from that event to see what was inside.  Only made it 90 pages in before I was so repulsed I could no longer tolerate turning a page to read what was printed.  I did not want these to end up in locations/hands where they could be held in high regard. As such, I have them flank Anne Franks diary and sit adjacent to the Socialist texts in a “dead letter bin" of sorts.  

Lastly, the bookcase that faces into our bedroom and is similarly housed in one of the main timber frame bents of the house.  These shelves were built from a vintage cabinet that once was used for the faculty mail slots in the Cornell physics department near my offices.  The cabinet inner partition dividers were made of stained tulipwood with grooves to hold thin tulipwood dividers for each slot. Cut down, those now support glass shelves for display and solid wood ones for books.  Housed here edge of left side upper shelf is a book I found on my parents shelves.  Had never seen it until my 30s.  It was inscribed to me at my birth by my grandfather as the first of many books I might someday own.  Glad we opened that cover when going through their collection."

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