Saturday, August 2, 2008

Where do your books live?

I'm approaching the last week of packing and moving, and yesterday, I sent off the first box of books, one of three. With every book I picked up, I had to decide: Will this be best to have at home, or in my office?

Some of these decisions are easy. Big, bulky foreign language dictionaries live at home, where I'm most likely to need them; primary sources in English (a lot of Penguin editions) live in my office. But everything else is a crapshoot. Interesting monograph on a subject outside my research area? General surveys that I can use them to fill in a gap in a lecture?

Where do your books live?


Dr. S said...

I'm going to give this question a whole post of its own, maybe tomorrow, as I continue to contemplate the stacks of my books that still don't have a home in my homeward bound suitcases.

But the smartass answer (which is really mostly true): my books live wherever I do. And by now, they also live in many places where I don't--that is to say, in places where I have lived but do not live right now, as well as places where I have never lived, like my department's storage closet and my friends' basement. My library gets around.

clio's disciple said...

Sigh. Well, because I don't have an office right now, my books live in boxes and piles around my desk and in my front hall.

But normally, the office gets teaching-related books and reference materials, and at home gets books for whatever the current research is.

historiann said...

Why not allow your separated Book Family to live together? I keep them all in one place, in my case at home where I do my *real* work. I'm too disorganized to create stable, intelligible categories of "teaching books" or "writing books," and knew that I would always not have the right book where I needed it to be. (This requires of course having enough space, and pleasant enough space, to do intellectual work in your home, or a quiet and attractive office conducive to writitng, which I realize are luxuries that not everyone has.)

Notorious Ph.D. said...

Historiann has hit on the problem: "Home" is a 500 square-foot apartment (Did I mention that Job City is one of those high cost of living places?); "office" is a 9-by-15 space that I share with a colleague. It's a bit of a challenge to think about where I'm most likely to be working. Except coffee shops. But they don't let me set up my own bookshelves there, sadly.

Another Damned Medievalist said...

Most of my work books are in my office, because there is much more space there (I managed to get a envy-inspiring office due to some lame-ass politics -- somebody with seniority actually gave up a great office so they didn't have to be next door to someone else).

Anonymous said...

In theory, all my academic books live at my office. Also in theory, I do all academic work in my office. In reality, I'm always hauling my laptop and my books back and forth from home to work.

Grad School Friend M

Dr. S said...

Yeah, actually, when I'm at home, I'm a bookhauler. Anyone who knows me can figure out when I'm really thinking hard about something because I start carrying huge stacks of books with me everywhere--from the library to the office, from the office to home, from home to the library. I'm not always carrying them around because I'm actually going to USE them. It's more that assembling the stacks and then lugging them everywhere is part of the thinking process.

Packing to leave England also involves a lot of lugging, of course, but unfortunately it's not so much part of a thinking process.

Belle said...

Serious stuff stays at my office, where I never do 'real' work. Since I lost my library hovel, I've done no 'real' work, sadly. Home is where my fiction lives. Yeah, I read fiction that has nothing to do with anything except its own, crucial function of mind candy.

I intend to do 'real' work this term at the library, where I shall have to haul everything. Since I had a whole two months of hovel, I'm now at the bottom of the list for faculty carrel. Go figure.