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Merging bookshelves - the true test of a relationship

Posted on 25th February 2015 by Rob Chilver
Thinking of taking the next step in your relationship with your loved one? Rob Chilver provides some advice on that biggest step of all - merging your bookshelves...

There are a number of defining first moments in a relationship: when you first meet, your first date, that first kiss and when you both realise that Adam Sandler films aren't funny. After a while, and if all goes well, you may decide to move in together and create a new shared home in the process. Once you've found that ideal place and settled in, there still remains one more step to take. Nothing trivial, like marriage, but an even bigger one - that of merging of you and your partner's bookshelves into one.

Previously there had been two opposing sets of bookshelves with a comforting yet unspoken sea of space between them. Books could not and would not cross over from one bookcase to the other and so would remain on opposite sides of the room. But let's say love plays its course and you decide to take the plunge. How do you proceed without drowning amongst a flood of tears?

You begin with the easy part as you'll need to physically empty the shelves. Having the books in piles around you on the floor is a good time to survey your own lifetime of reading. Are there any authors you are missing? Perhaps you'll find that long lost title you've been searching for? As you do this make sure to ever so slyly cast an eye over your other half's book collection. Now you'll get a good idea of the type of person they really are. 

If panic hasn't set in by this point there are a number of questions that will need answering. Firstly, what if you both have two copies of the same book? Each would very likely have been bought at a different time to the other and hold different meanings. For one of you it might have been received as a gift or for the other it may have been bought at a significant time in their lives. Which should you prioritize? A little give and take may be required here and if all else fails, hide your precious copies away like Gollum and visit and stroke them regularly. The funny voice is optional.

Secondly, any book lover judges other people by the books on their shelves. At dinner parties your eye may wander away from your host's no doubt tantalising conversation and towards their bookshelves. Suddenly their collection of stamp collecting/erotica/celebrity biography books makes more sense. It clicks. Now with joint bookshelves, your partner’s taste has becomes yours.

While on the face of it this entire exercise may seem borderline stressful or terrifying, it's worth emphasising that this is a good thing. By combining your bookshelves the books are no longer 'yours' and 'theirs'. They become 'ours'. Think of it as an opportunity to try new things and to widen your reading horizons into new authors or genres. Share your favourite novels and ask for theirs. Listen to your loved one's advice and passion and investigate a few new areas of reading. Now you can share your loved books with your loved one.  

Let's not forget the one final and possibly most important aspect of all this. By merging the separate bookshelves, and getting rid of any duplicates or unloved books, you're making room for an exciting new addition to your new family. New books. 


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