The title of this blog refers to an exchange we had more than fifteen years ago, when Christina was still living in London and Wayne was there on a visit. Christina then had a large number of books in a small flat in Battersea, most of them on shelves but also many volumes stacked in piles on the floor. One evening, when Wayne was crossing from one end of the sitting room to the other, he tripped over one of the aforementioned piles and said: ‘Too many books!’ To which Christina replied: ‘Never enough!’
This became our unofficial motto. When Christina moved to America in 1995, her collection of some 6,000 volumes joined Wayne’s 5,000 books, from which we weeded a few hundred as duplicates or no longer wanted. Since then, we’ve proceeded to add books on a regular basis and what to some would be a terrifying pace. Today we own roughly 15,000 volumes, plus hundreds of videos, DVDs, CDs, LPs, and magazines. In 2007 we undertook a long-needed and much-delayed renovation of our house, in the process adding some 600 linear feet of shelving, which we thought would give us plenty of room for acquisitions for years to come.
In fact, this work gave us very little room for growth: in our plans we had failed to take sufficiently into account how many books we had double-shelved or (here too) piled on the floor. The result gave us pause. Since then, although we still haunt bookshops and order books online, we give much more thought to where the volumes will be shelved – and whether we can somehow fit another bookcase into our now-dry basement (at right).
In this same vein, Wayne once met a woman at a book sale who suddenly exclaimed: ‘We shouldn’t be taught to read!’ If we weren’t taught to read, she explained, ‘we wouldn’t want to own so many books.’ She herself had so many books (and was about to buy more) that they had outgrown their shelves and had to be kept in piles, which she felt wasn’t a right and proper thing to do. Wayne replied that stacking books was a perfectly good reason to have floors.
Image: Tolkien translations on new basement shelves.