I have an old bookcase at home. I don't know how old it is, exactly; it came with my first post-college apartment in Washington, and I brought it to New York when I moved here in 1999. It's a cheap piece of junk that was ready for replacement seven years ago, and continued years of abuse by piling too many books on it have not helped matters. Since I moved to my current apartment on the UES, the bookshelf has been listing to one side, and it's been obvious that the end is near for my oldest piece of furniture. On Monday night, I was looking through my cookbooks for a particular recipe when one of the shelves started to collapse. One of the plastic pins supporting the shelf fell out of its hole and the others looked ready to go at any minute. I started pulling books off the weakened shelf and putting them on the floor in a calm, methodical manner. That's when the entire bookcase shifted even more to one side and looked ready to fall over entirely. I held up the bookcase with my right hand and started throwing books onto the floor, trying to accomplish in my own way what the bookcase seemed intent on doing without my help. While I was doing this, the cats looked at me like I was crazy, and I'm sure I looked ridiculous as I hurled books to the floor while leaning against the bookcase. (To be fair, the cats always look at me like I'm crazy. I'll save that for another post.) I cleared the collapsed shelf and moved some other books from another shelf, so the bookcase appears to be stable now. But I've got books piled on the floor and on my old computer desk instead of on the shelf, and I still have a bookcase that's leaning to the right and threatening to fall over any time. I think I'll have to go shopping for a new bookcase this weekend.
In the meantime I gave away a few books to a co-worker and started thinking about getting rid of some of my other books. Clearly, getting more books would be a bad idea given my current situation. However, on Wednesday night, James and I went to the Borders at the Time Warner Center for a discussion and signing of The Blind Side with Michael Lewis. I bought a copy of Lewis' new book for him to sign, and since the store gave all of us coupons for 30% off any sports books, I bought Friday Night Lights as well. I love the TV show, and I didn't see the movie last year because I wanted to read the book first. So I gave away two books, and I picked up two more. My grand plan to decrease the number of books in my office is off to a smashing start.
One note on the signing: James, along with a few other people in front of us, had Lewis personalize the signature in the book. But I just had him sign it for me without putting my name in it. If I'd planned to give the book as a gift, I'd have had him personalize it. Since the book is for me, I didn't feel like I needed to see "To Phil" next to the signature. James accused me of intending to re-sell the book on eBay, which made me think that's what Lewis thought I planned to do as well. Rest assured I'm not selling my copy of The Blind Side on eBay. I do remember reading somewhere that signed copies of books are worth more without a personalized inscription, and that did play into my thinking. But I just didn't need to see my own name on the inside of the book.