What’s on Your Keeper Shelves?

My house is pretty much supported by bookshelves.  When Jack and I moved in here in 1976, one of our first projects was finding a carpenter who could build adjustable floor to ceiling bookshelves.  By the time we finished, we had them in five rooms, along with assorted free-standing bookcases.  I remember once reading a description of a home decorated in “mixed book bindings.”  That about sums it up.

Of course there’s been a lot of turnover through the decades.  If there hadn’t been, the place would look like something out of one of those hoarder shows on TV, and I’d be squeezing between stacks of books to get to the bathroom.  And there’d be books in there, too.  My piles of unshelved books are small, and none of them are on the floor, but I don’t part with books until I’m really pushed.

The other day I saw some wonderful illustrations for Frank Herbert’s classic Dune, and they made me think of all the books, and series of books, that I keep on my shelves because I really want to read them again.  I don’t know when I think I’ll have time, since I have at least a couple of hundred unread books waiting for their turn, but I know I want to revisit so many of those worlds.

Science fiction keepers are what you see at the top of this page, the upper shelves of the floor to ceiling bookcase in my bedroom (where there are also four free-standing bookcases full of romance novels, and a unit built into the long-sealed window above my bed, divided between unread books and DVDs).  There are several series up there that I’d love to read again from the beginning, although the sequels to Dune (there were several) are not there.  I read most of them, but only kept Dune–for me, none of the others lived up to the first one.

But Marion Zimmer Bradley’s tales of Darkover are there, including a few I have yet to read, and the same for Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern.  I have them all, some still waiting on a To Be Read shelf.  I’d like to explore Philip Jose Farmer’s Riverworld again, and Harry Harrison’s Eden.

Current authors whose worlds stand in neat rows up there include Lois McMaster Bujold’s saga of Miles Vorkosigan and his family connections (the latest one is in a TBR stack on top of my seldom-opened jewelry box), and Naomi Novik’s wonderful Temeraire series.  I’ve been saving her Crucible of Gold because I wanted to have one in reserve (in the TBR stack above my bed), but now Blood of Tyrants is out, so I know there’s another adventure waiting.

And then down a couple of shelves I see J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter stories, and next to those Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, in a lovely leatherbound slip-cased volume Jack bought me for Christmas one year after I wore out the original paperbacks.  And I haven’t even ventured across the room to the romance collection, much less down the hall to the mysteries.

I’ll continue the tour another evening.  Tonight I think I’ll go to bed early and read.

What books do you want to visit when you have a little quiet time?

The Bedroom Wall



5 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. JF Owen
    Aug 22, 2013 @ 20:17:18

    My keeper shelves have some of the same books that yours do. I have every Pern book written and all of the Darkover novels too. Next to them sit a nearly complete collection of Heinlein, more than a few Asimov (The Foundation series has always been a favorite) and quite a few of Jerry Pournelle’s books. My guilty pleasure in the last few years has been the paranormal books of Laurell K. Hamilton and Kim Harrison. Shhh, don’t tell anybody.

    Thanks for asking!



    • Kay Hudson
      Aug 22, 2013 @ 22:03:57

      Hi, JF. I’m sure I read virtually all of Heinlein and Asimov over the years (the Foundation series several times), but I have none of them on the current shelves. I reread a couple of Heinlein’s novels a few years ago, and they didn’t hold up as well as I’d hoped. I do have a few favorite Poul Anderson novels on the shelf, and several by Niven and Pournelle. I read the first few of Hamilton’s Anita Blake novels (guilty pleasure, I agree), until I realized I no longer cared which shapeshifter Anita was sleeping with (and I’ve about come to the same conclusion about Sookie Stackhouse). Haven’t tried Harrison–yet. But I’m incorrigible, just ordered three books from the SFBC, the new Temeraire, the latest Darkover, and an historical urban fantasy called Thieftaker.



  2. JF Owen
    Aug 23, 2013 @ 20:45:24

    Hi Kay,

    I agree to a large extent about Heinlein, especially with some of his later work. I thoroughly enjoyed his future history short stories, including Methuselah’s Children. When he wrote “Time Enough for Love” I remember thinking that it was one of the best books I’d read. I read it again about two years ago and was dismayed to find that my taste had changed and it just didn’t click with me anymore. Oddly enough, in just this past year I reread “Friday”, “The Moon is a Harsh Mistress” and The Door into Summer” and enjoyed all three. The technology lapses in the later were a little glaring, but in some ways that made the read more enjoyable.

    The later Anita Blake novels definitely aren’t as good as the earlier ones, but I just can’t kick the habit. I guess it’s a little like opening a box of doughnuts. You only mean to have one, but before you know it, they’re all gone.

    I hope you enjoy your new books when they arrive! Thank goodness for the SFBC; they stocked about two thirds of my shelves. 🙂



    • Kay Hudson
      Aug 23, 2013 @ 23:58:53

      I’ve belonged to the SFBC for more decades than I care to admit. And the Mystery Guild. Lots of both on my shelves.

      A couple of years ago I reread Heinlein’s Glory Road, which I remembered as a favorite. I was sadly disappointed. I did enjoy the Future History stories, but I don’t think I’ll revisit them. One that I have always remembered was “The Roads Must Roll,” probably written in the 40s. I have no idea why that one stuck with me.

      Possibly some books are better left on the Fond Memory shelf. Unfortunately it’s hard to guess which ones they are!



      • JF Owen
        Aug 24, 2013 @ 09:21:08

        “Possibly some books are better left on the Fond Memory shelf. Unfortunately it’s hard to guess which ones they are!”

        That’s an insightful thought!



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