Today's post on Cornflower, The comfort of a sweet disorder, refers to buildings, but it occurs to me that those words could just as well apply to books. Images of Tudor chimneys, irregular eaves and lopsided roofs such are envisaged there could easily be transposed to our tilting piles and listing stacks of books, or those shelved - perhaps because space permits no other arrangement - haphazardly, squeezed in, squashed up, but happily there.
Just as, in the passage quoted on the other site, a house shows its family's history, so our bookshelves reveal our personal ones, and a collection of books built up over some years may have layers of significance within it, life stages, interests, passions and preoccupations apparent on closer inspection rather as unearthed artefacts provide clues to the existence of earlier cultures.
A glance at my own shelves reminds me of people, places and events connected with my books and with me at the time I read them or acquired them - each volume is so much more than simply itself, a text, a story, a container for information. I think that is why I am so reluctant to part with books and I rejoice in the fact that I have so many: they are an element of identity and a key to memory, and there is real comfort in that sweet disorder.