living underground in the real world

DIY shelves!

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Our house is pretty much reaching a crisis point in terms of book-holding capacity, and I say this as someone who bought four books this week alone.

Tragically, though I keep buying books—new and used, fiction and poetry, graphic novels and cookbooks—my bizarro rushed life means I rarely actually read an entire book.

Still, it comforts me to have them around, and there could be worse habits (like, perhaps, scouting the world for vintage pantyhose packages).

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Though Jacob’s office came equipped with nice built-in bookcases,

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we filled those up in a second

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and moved onto the pink room,

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and living room.

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Man & Woman: the Encyclopedia of Adult Relationships is just about the most awesome encyclopedia set ever, FYI–and it’s not nearly as heteronormative as you’d think! It’s all amazing 1970s ridiculousness.

I even took all the yellow and orange cookbooks to my yellow and orange kitchen down the road and noticed not a dent in the cookbook collection.

So! Though I’m not particularly handy, when I came across this recipe* for quickie shelves in Readymade (which is helpfully not online, but it’s so easy I’ll just walk you through it), I literally left the house immediately to get the supplies.**

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I had the shelves on the wall inside of two hours–that’s the kind of house project I like.

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Basically, you just buy a bunch of corner braces in pairs plus screws (and drywall anchors, if necessary) that fit them. Then you put the braces on the wall using the screws, stack your books up, and go have a beer.

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Unfortunately, I hadn’t bought enough corner braces, so it ended how most of my house projects end: with me half-assely finishing it and not being particularly proud of the result. I also put a few of the braces the wrong way so they were visible, which was not my intention.

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A few days later, however, I bought more supplies and fixed it up right.

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Though the shelves have the downside of not making the books themselves particularly accessible, I’m not really concerned.

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I’m not planning on rereading The Bell Jar or, for that matter, To the Lighthouse, again for a while.

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*OK, here’s a question: what do you call it if it doesn’t involve cooking? Recipe does not seem right. Plan? Technique? Blueprint??

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**In case anyone thinks that my endorsement of this one idea constitutes ringing praise of Readymade, I would like to issue the following statement: The newish Readymade redesign (which coincided with the seriously fucked, pretty-much-ousting of founding editor-in-chief Shoshana Berger, whose columns I so enjoyed) is so painfully stultifying, stupid, simplistic, slick, and SAD that I can barely bring myself to give it a cursory glance. I’ve been a Readymaker since issue #1,

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but man oh MAN their new design/corporate takeover is horrid. All models (am I wrong that once upon a time they used real people in their photo shoots?) and shit to buy, with no interesting projects whatsoever. [This is adorable, however]. UGH.

Sorry to end on an annoyed note, but SERIOUSLY.

The shelves, however, are pretty cute, no?

15 Responses to “DIY shelves!”

  1. Dustin

    I have been doing the opposite of you: getting rid of books, as quickly as possible. They were starting to make me feel claustrophobic. I’ve just been filling boxes and giving them away on the street in front of my apt. Voila. Gone in an hour or less. The last give-away, the only book that no one took was Christopher Hitchens’ God Is Not Great—which was a stupid, poorly researched, god-awful book, but still; I thought it would be popular. I let it sit there through a torrential rainstorm; no one should be subjected to such drivel.

    I’ve never liked ReadyMade. I have always liked the ~idea~ of readymade, but I’ve never been compelled to make a single thing, even though I love crafts/crafting/DIY. I’ve always found it a better magazine to inspire ideas rather than provide them. The stuff always looks like how-to-supplement-the-living-room-you-purchased-from-Urban-Outfitters.

    I like your bookshelves, though.

    Reply
    • lagusta

      Oh! You make my heart hurt! If you tell me you’re replacing all your books with, like, a KINDLE or some such nonsense I will just plain cry.

      I do understand about the claustrophobia though!

      And the Hitch. I’m the most obnoxious atheist ever, as you know, but yeah, I don’t think I could stand to suffer through anything of his. Good to know God is Not Great was as Not Great as I figured it would be.

      ReadyMade is totally Urban Outfittersy, especially after their corporate takeover. I really only read it out of stupid loyalty. It’s a five minute toilet read, tragically.

      Reply
      • Dustin

        Lord, no, I have not gone Kindle. I am just tired of moving around the books that I truly will never pick up and read again, which happens to be a lot of them. Plus, we live in a 600 sq ft apt, so every little bit helps.

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    Reply
  3. Stephanie

    Wow- this is JUST what I needed. My partner and I are PhD students and surrounded by books. We bought new shelves, but both just ordered MORE books this week. Books and shoes are my weaknesses.

    The Man & Woman: the Encyclopedia of Adult Relationships looks really interesting. I teach a love and sex class- do you think it would be good for this?

    Reply
    • lagusta

      It is really interesting! I haven’t really sat down & read all of the 25 or so volumes, but I am super fascinated by it. If I was a better blogger I would have a little series on it and would scan in pages and discuss how our attitudes toward sexuality have become so much more repressed since the 1970s even though our culture has become so sexualized, etc etc. There doesn’t seem to be much about it online, and I lucked out & found about half the set at a thrift store (then promptly eBayed the rest, because I’m a completest), so it’s a little hard to come by which might make it tricky, but as far as I’m concerned, it’s a gem.

      Reply
  4. Brittany

    The shelves are pretty cute! But I’d be terrified of putting too much weight on them and ripping down an entire wall! my dozens of book boxes are still in storage and it breaks my heart. I want them close to me all the time. :(

    I think guide or instructions would work for non-cooking things.

    Reply
  5. Brittany

    BTW, since were twinnies, you NEED the delicious library software (and scanner?). It CHANGED MY LIFE (or actually just made me really happy).

    Reply
  6. Luann

    Ooh! That makes me want to make a shelf in the kitchen for my cookbooks–I’ve got L-brackets and wood all over the place!

    That Man & Woman encyclopedia set sounds so awesome! If I actually had money I’d snag it off ebay. Perhaps when I get paid…? Seventies ridiculousness is far above all other kinds.

    Reply
  7. Brian Veggie

    Are you the vintage pantyhose package collector? If not, where did you see that? I would love to see the whole collection and know more about the person who collects them.

    Reply
  8. britt

    i forgot how much i liked this. i just saw a new suggestion on this, where you use an old junk book and glue bottom cover over the bracket and then close the rest on top, making them even more invisible/floaty…

    Reply

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