[This post, first published in April 2007, is a rerun.]
There's been a small disaster chez Johnston. Over time, a massive tower of books had accumulated by my bedside. Don't get the impression these books were organized into neat stacks. Rather, the bedside reading was a great mound of volumes of every shape and size, some opened to where I'd left off reading—a miniature mountain of intricately interdependent structures, in some places weakened by slippery slick-paper magazines, constantly shifting and being shored anew as I occasionally extracted titles from lower down in the pile, jeopardizing everything higher up.
I guess disaster was inevitable. Last night I needed to retrieve a floor lamp to replace a broken switch, and alas, the base of the lamp turned out to be too great a stone in the foundation of the great pile. There was a bookalanche. The whole everlovin' edifice toppled; books slid and skidded every which way, picking up and carrying off other books as they roared by; mountaineers were killed, villages buried, massive conifers snapped like twigs, hikers lost forever. Send in the brandy-bearing St. Bernards. The floor by my bed and for a couple of feet in every direction is now an undifferentiated jumble of books, shin-deep. It is not a pretty sight.
And the irony? (There's always irony.) Buried somewhere in the carnage, among the casualties of the incident (only temporarily lost—I hope) are two books about how to stay organized as well as Henry Petroski's The Book on the Bookshelf, a fascinating and surprisingly deep history of the organization and storage of books.
I think I should have read a little further in that one, before letting it disappear into the great pile.
[Note: This post is a "rerun." Since Yr. Hmbl. Ed. is recuperating and trying to minimize workload, the comments Section, usually lively, is closed only for these "Vintage TOP" posts. Please join us next week when the doors will be swung wide again. —Ed.]