Under Pressure

The bookshelf above my bed is now beyond overloaded and I’m quite certain that it’s going to collapse any day now. We’re at breaking point. One of the screws on the bottom left corner is looking particularly dodgy, and despite my best efforts I can’t get the damn thing tightened back into the wall. I can only hope that if it’s to go then it goes while I’m out at work, otherwise I’m afraid it could kill me.

What a way to go. I wonder which book would do me in, who would be the publisher? Assassinated by Abacus; a Faber & Faber finishing; rubbed out by Random House; massacred by Pan MacMillan; ousted by the Oxford Press. Would it be a hardback that delivers the final blow? 1984 or Brave New World? One of those weighty paperbacks, the copy of Infinite Jest or the Hunter Thompson anthology, would definitely do me in. Without a doubt, that copy of The Complete Works of Shakespeare certainly has a menacing heft to it. They’d be an irony to Bertrand Russell’s History of Western Philosophy finishing me off. Then again, how about if I wasn’t crushed by the larger tomes, but suffocated under a pile of those smaller works; asphyxiated by Amis; a Steinbeck strangling; smothered under Salinger. Or maybe there are enough of his books up there to leave me mangled by McCarthy. Perhaps if The Aeneid, Ulysses and As I Lay dying fell on me all at once it could be considered one of the first cases of an intertextuality related fatality. Cause of death: literary modernism.

I’d never have this worry if I’d just fork out for one of those Kindle contraptions. But a screen is not a page and it never will be. Anyway, that’s enough being morbidly whimsical for one day.

98 Comments Add yours

  1. It looks like the shelves in my bedroom. Plus six bookcases. I have switched to kindle out of sheer necessity. Good luck. Hugs, Barbara

    1. earnestern says:

      Kindles are just great, the proper e-ink ones mind. So easy on the eyes.

  2. Just to be a dick, the universe will almost certainly brain you with the Seinfeld series…

    Jokes aside, I have stacked shelves like this before and watched with a steadily building morbid sense of excitement. I eventually relented and removed everything, mostly out of concern for the books (never mind that the shelf was hanging over the sofa, and the heads of those below).

    I’ve also sent a stray arrow through a packing box and skewered one of those DK Star Wars blow up “what’s inside the millenium falcon” books. The arrow did a clean pass through, and now the book doesn’t close properly πŸ™

  3. And yet a nice way to go, considering some of the alternatives.

    Thanks for following me at my blog, and leading me back to yours.

  4. james soliz says:

    Like any maniac, I have some books here and some books there. Never leave all your eggs in one basket!

  5. Reblogged this on Revolution For Breakfast and commented:
    This has me giggling in a most sinister way. With the bookshelves above my own head at night, I sympathize, but I could never put the situation so amusingly.

  6. That looks frightening. I think wall shelves are always a little dodgy, but that is part of the beauty of them. My own wall shelves are quite a bit less stuffed (and only loom over my dresser, not my head), but I still insisted on 3″ screws directly into the studs before I would trust my books on them. Wouldn’t want the books to fall and get hurt. πŸ™‚

  7. utahrob says:

    Take the books off, then pull the loose screw out. Fill the hole with Elmer’s glue and wooden toothpicks, after the glue sets, put the screw back. Stay with the books.

  8. Chances are it will come down (sez the pessimist) ; a few years back i had my lot hit me hard at four in the morning and it wasn’t pretty.
    Fix it NOW

    my best to you

  9. Gert Loveday says:

    “To the bitter end” up in the left-hand corner would be appropriate. Where’s “Crime and Punishment”? Wouldn’t it be depressing to be sent to meet your maker courtesy of a pile of Barbara Cartlands, or “The Da Vinci Code”, and ironic to get your comeuppance from a volume of Nostradamus?
    You don’t have to roll over to Amazon and buy a Kindle – I have a Kobo and I love it.

  10. If I die from a falling book, I hope it will be the one that contains two of my short stories ‘The Creature in The Rose’. The resultant press and TV coverage might increase sales enough to ensure a reprint, which might produce enough royalties to pay some of the bills I bequeath to my heirs.

  11. linnetmoss says:

    “As I Lay Dying” would be particularly appropriate for the coup de gras.

  12. Touch2Touch says:

    I really enjoyed this post, conceptually and in your execution.
    Well, I hope it won’t actually BE your execution. But looking at the stack, it might, which would be a waste of a good blogger.
    So, my best advice: Move your bed.

  13. adhocannie says:

    Beautiful writing and funny – what a treat! Thanks for visiting my blog. And can I say a good word for Kindle? It’s not a book, no; but it’s a very convenient way of reading – and bying – ‘material to read’ particularly if travelling. Anne

  14. Wow, what a shelf!! And what great books to be read!! Fingers crossed they’ll not all tumble down on you!

  15. This was a very interesting read πŸ™‚ Loved your use of adjectives. Couldn’t help smiling all the way through. I completely agree with you in preferring to read physical books rather than e-books. In all honesty though, I do hope that the bookshelf doesn’t actually kill you in your sleep. Should probably do something about that.

  16. Carlos Cunha says:

    If the thesaurus did the deed, you would be demised, passed on, no more, ceased to be, expired and gone to meet your maker, a stiff, bereft of life, pushing up the daisies, off the twig, have kicked the bucket, shuffled off the mortal coil, run down the curtain and joined the bleedin’ choir invisible. You would be an ex-reader.
    Note: My apologies to Monty Python for ripping them off.

    But seriously…Nobody offered him a solution? Good grief, people. This was a cry for assistance.

    Assuming the screws are set into wooden studs, plug the hole with wooden matchsticks. Be sure to first cut the heads off. Or don’t, if you like to live dangerously. That will give the threads of the screw more purchase.

    But honestly, get yourself a proper bookcase. Or do what us rednecks do and stack your books on the floor. Well, we would if we had books.

  17. I’d be concerned about all the Orwell! Now if you had an e-reader your room would be quite a dull and none of is could peek into your literary tastes.

    1. Tastes which I hope meet with your approval.

      1. Yes well it least it’s not a bunch if mindless twaddle!

  18. There are far worse ways to go than death-by-book.

  19. simon682 says:

    Books do furnish a room. How about moving the bed?

  20. Doug says:

    I see how there is a really dark Kindle dream where you write your most impassioned plea for love and justice and Someone in an ugly palace decides there can never be success without an endorsement. Every piece of Love must have a lick. Every improvisation is the ultimate love and why can’t She sing the touch of my every dream and be everywhere there is light.

  21. Orwell has to go, stick him in the loo, too dreary, he does nothing for you. What good does all that Orwell? A single 1984 would be entirely sufficient πŸ™‚

  22. What a funny post! Thanks!

  23. Pat Bean says:

    I love it. A bookcase is so revealing of a person, and your reading choices of Steinbeck and Hunter Thompson, both books on my shelf, too, are quite revealing. And thanks for the follow.

  24. Reblogged this on Inward Movement and commented:
    “A screen is not a page and it never will be”

  25. dorne whale says:

    This made me laugh…but I think you should get your shelf fixed.
    I love my Kindle and my books.
    Thanks for following my blog and I’m following you now. ?

  26. jaivyas98 says:

    There’s a lot of Orwells in there! I can totally relate to this since I have a couple of equally full (though not so life threateningly) shelves. Loved your writing and thanks a lot for the follow πŸ™‚

  27. “…a Steinbeck strangling…” Love it

  28. Haha, I don’t have quite the same issue but I couldn’t agree with you more about a screen versus a page.

    Thank you so much for checking out my blog! You are a very talented writer; I look forward to reading more of your recent posts.

    Have a wonderful day!

  29. pieterk515 says:

    You have heard of Kindle haven’t you? Much less life threatening…

  30. emmawicker says:

    Eeek, I fear for your life. Great post, parts of it made me chuckle. I have never been one to keep the books that I read, I usually donate them to school fete’s. I would never have forked out for one of those ‘kindle contraptions’ myself but luckily my husband did. While it can never replace the look, feel and smell of a book, it is practical – well, something in my life has to be I suppose. I look forward to reading you future posts πŸ™‚

  31. Jess West says:

    I see a couple of suggestions to move the bed, so I’m just gonna throw this one out there, too; move the shelf. πŸ˜‰

    Great post, I enjoyed your morbid whimsy.

  32. natella111 says:

    That’s a big pile of books! Great sense of humor aside, I hope that you find a way to fix the screw! Stay safe πŸ™‚

  33. Aanchal says:

    I so so much agree with you, Page can never be a screen. I too have a big book shelves. Somehow I dont feel I am reading a book, unless I can smell the paper πŸ™‚ Happy reading.


  34. Maslo says:

    The phrase “morbidly whimsical” is insanely quotable. I’m prone to lean toward Infinite Jest being the ultimate cause of your demise. It’s one hell of a heavy book. And the universe does enjoy its jokes. Perhaps the book will just concuss you and that’ll be the Fates saying “JK! You can keep living.”

    And I agree with you about e-readers. Sure they’re convenient, but there’s just nothing like turning a page πŸ™‚

    Great post!

  35. That’s over your bed? I see someone likes to live dangerously.

  36. It should only be appropriate that that you should be killed by “To the Bitter End”, don’t you think?


  37. nyankoto says:

    I prefer the 6′ tall bookshelves that loom over my bed, unattached to the wall (despite my occasional thoughts about earthquake-proofing). I would rather the furniture kill me than the books; I’d hate for my poor books to be blamed.

  38. Literati says:

    Reblogged this on BlΓ€tterflΓΌstern and commented:
    Now that I’ve read this, I’m really glad that I don’t have a bookshelf over my bed. One is above the TV, so any damage would be bearable. πŸ˜‰

  39. Literati says:

    Thanks for following. πŸ™‚ I just reblogged this, it’s a great article. Btw, short of buying an ebook reader, you could sleep with your feet under the shelf. Admittedly, your legs and feet might be smashed, but at least you’d have enough books to while away the time in hospital. πŸ˜‰

  40. Lilly Casey says:

    This reminds me of a time when I shared a room with my sister. She was doing her Leaving Certificate, she had a big pile of school books on her desk. One night the books fell to the ground with a huge crash, that woke our mother up in the room down the hall. Myself and my sister slept on, oblivious! Good times. Thanks for the follow πŸ˜€

  41. Envious of your Orwell collection! I have a shelf above my bedhead as well, and it’s starting to look like this. I sympathize when you said “…a screen is not a page and it never will be.” I once thought that the problem with reading e-books – for instance, in reading a Kindle edition of a Borges or a Nietzsche – is that you cannot experience the sublime.

  42. Renee Lynn says:

    I’m under a similar situation. I have an overwhelming about of books and other material items because I have a feeling I may need it in the future. Truth is, I hardly EVER go back to it. I’m working on selling my books and clothes now. You know the saying, “Less is more?” It’s so true. I’m not saying you should do this, but if you get rid of some of those, you won’t be “Under Pressure”. Just a word of advice! πŸ™‚

    Take care,

  43. charlypriest says:

    By my count the the publisher or better yet the author that is going to do you in is probably going to be George Orwell. So thatΒ΄s quite an irony, you, a writer, killed by a dead writer. Or now that I took even a better look at it, if that piece of brick that Shakespeare wrote falls on you it will be Shakespeare who will do you in. So itΒ΄s a toss between Orwell and Shakespeare.

    IΒ΄m a pretty good handy man, I can save your life if you want……for a price.

  44. W. K. Tucker says:

    Ah, what a way to go for a lover of words. πŸ™‚
    On another note, you might try a Kindle, or some such other device. I have an iPad with a Kindle app–plus Kobo app, Book Shout, iBook, and other reading apps. Oh, on my phone I also have an Audible app so I can listen to books to and from my commute to work. Like you, I once thought nothing could replace a real paper book, and truthfully, the iPad doesn’t; but now I can store so many books on one small device that it’s helped with my plethora of book clutter. I still buy “real books”, only now I just purchase the really special ones in paper format. If I hadn’t switched over to mostly eBooks some years ago, I would be buried under them by now.

  45. I’m thinking death by a thousand paper cuts

  46. mjtannian says:

    Another Seinfeld fan? I hope so! Also, curious about an Infinite Jest. I’m intrigued by David Foster Wallace but I have yet to read any of his novels. Only Consider the Lobster and The View from Mrs. Thompsons.

  47. Asher Ben says:

    Had a good laugh reaing this article. Thanks for liking my blog and introducing me to your world of art.

  48. leamuse says:

    Absolutely! Kindle or any other device cannot replace the printed word! Books threaten to take over my entire house. There is one room that is little else but books and shelves. There are also books in every other room. We all have our priorities!

    Thank you for choosing to follow one of my blogs. I hope you continue to enjoy the posts.

  49. alkaplan says:

    Nothing beats the smell of paper and the feel of pages under your fingers.

  50. JImbo says:

    This is a problem light readers never have. πŸ˜‰

    Ive often wondered if as readers we are still often borderline hoarders. I know “theyre books that’s different!” Is it? Once you read it it is in your head right? You have digested it. You would be a hoarder if you kept leftovers all over the house even on shelves “just in case” you’re hubgry again, right?

    I’m torn on the issue. Iknow yes you can loan a book to a friend. No they dont go bad unrefrigerated. Still… is the sentimentality that goes with books just a rationalization that we aren’t just crazy?

    What do you think?

  51. JImbo says:

    Reblogged this on The Readneck Review Blog and commented:
    This is a problem light readers never have. πŸ˜‰

    Ive often wondered if as readers we are still often borderline hoarders. I know “theyre books that’s different!” Is it? Once you read it it is in your head right? You have digested it. You would be a hoarder if you kept leftovers all over the house even on shelves “just in case” you’re hubgry again, right?

    I’m torn on the issue. Iknow yes you can loan a book to a friend. No they dont go bad unrefrigerated. Still… is the sentimentality that goes with books just a rationalization that we aren’t just crazy?

    What do you think?

  52. MTJames says:

    I love your wry humor. I do the vast majority of my reading and writing on my PC and online, even though that leaves me empty-handed in waiting rooms. And by the way, thanks for following “The Well-Dressed Branch.”

  53. charlotte49 says:

    Reblogged this on This Quirky Life and commented:
    A bit f fun from a fellow blogger. Sometimes a pile of unread books can seem like another pressure. I was very lucky to receive a Kindle for my birthday last year. Having long resisted reading from a screen and letting more technology encroach on my life, I found the transition remarkably smooth. When I go overseas in October, it’ll be great to load up the Kindle rather than lug books around. And, owning Kindle doesn’t stop me from reading ‘real’ books or buying them!

  54. charlotte49 says:

    Hi there,

    Enjoyed your post and just re-blogged it. I was also very anti-Kindle but then was given one for my birthday and changed my mind. However, I do still read ‘real’books.

  55. It’ll be a David Foster Wallace one to get you… trust me. I personally keep the majority of my books stacked on the floor in my bedroom. Makes it an adventure getting to the bathroom in the middle of the night!

  56. I think it would be a nice way to go. πŸ™‚

  57. I agree! A screen is not a page! It’s not just reading, it’s smelling and feeling.
    How about getting a bigger, more stable book shelf?

  58. Terry Rachel says:

    Lovely. You made me smile.

  59. juliegum says:

    A net. How about a net to catch those falling words? You wouldn’t want them to fall all in any order, would you?

  60. egrafton says:

    Love your writing style and wit. Buy a couple wall brackets and keep buying real books.

  61. C. M. Ruffin says:

    Love this! I can’t stop chuckling. I’ve relented and bought a Nook. Nothing beats turning real pages, but the Nook is great for on-the-go reading. The feel of an actual book and the smell of the pages never gets old. Therefore, my house is filled with books – my preferred method of reading whenever I’m home.

  62. Nada says:

    I’m glad you are still alive. I would suggest as well you move your bed or take some of that pressure to another shelf, or even under your bed. ASAP πŸ™‚

  63. Yes! Glad to hear that you have Brave New World; I really think it’s one of the most underrated/under-appreciated pieces of work out there. Perhaps you can squeeze one more book on top…

  64. You must not live in California. A Californian learns not to have anything hanging above the bed that is heavy and could kill (wrought iron decorations, mirrors, flower pots, etc.) in the event of an earthquake.

    The books on top of the shelves would have come down many times at my place over the years!

    Besides all the interesting comments here, I thought you’d find it amusing that that was the first thing I thought when I saw your bookshelf.

  65. Death by book avalanche sounds like a very romantic way to go xx

  66. zooeyibz says:

    “The Aeneid, Ulysses and As I Lay dying fell on me all at once it could be considered one of the first cases of an intertextuality related fatality” Nice!

  67. You have to be kidding. Really. You’re kidding–right? That’s a picture of books….

  68. Screens truly cant replace pages…nice one. And thanks for following as well πŸ™‚

  69. Rachel Williams says:

    You could bootleg support your shelf so that it will hold more and you won’t have to give in to that e-ink stuff!

  70. miljames says:

    This is most definitely the story of my life. Fortunately my bookshelves are on the floor or I would have been knocked out several times by now.

    Long the the hard copy book!… Even if it is the death of us both

  71. whims2words says:

    A screen is not a page and it never will be. I think you just propagated my mind to a new post for my blog. I just really wish people would remember that fresh invigorating feeling of turning a page rather than scrolling down a screen. (which, ironically, I had to do to read your post). Thank you for stating that.

  72. sweeneyroo says:

    I have yet to move from real books to a screen. I love the feel of each page I turn.my son is seven and he is a real book reader, his bookcase is starting to look like that. Although his is not on top of his bed so no fear if getting crushed by Dr Seuss.

  73. flowerpoet says:

    This puts a whole new slant on ‘heavy reading’. May I suggest you lighten up? πŸ™‚

  74. Hmmm….probably the Thesaurus. Simply, “words.” :o)

  75. djhamarman says:

    What’s all the Orwell books on the left?

    1. Hi, it’s the complete Orwell as compiled by Peter Davison. It’s an incredible scholarly work. They’re available on Amazon. Although becoming increasingly rare. One particular volume goes for Β£350.

  76. You are so right – a screen IS NOT a page.

  77. If you are killed by any of these books the obituary will surely read, “He died happy”.

  78. paperjasmine says:

    Your bookshelf looks like mine, except fortunately for me, mine is not above my bed but rather a tower against the wall. Yay for real books! πŸ™‚

    1. Yeah! Real books rock! πŸ™‚

  79. cducey2013 says:

    Maybe if you finished the 20 pound Infinite Jest and all that Orwell stuff you wouldn’t be int his mess now would you? Haha. Good alliterations up there.

  80. Nice post! Very funny! Love your collection of books! Go ahead and get a Kindle, but keep your books. πŸ™‚ Also love your writing. Keep up the good work.

  81. Anywho, your writing style is amazing! I love it! So descriptive, and the flow is good; your vocab is obviously expansive, but you don’t cram it in so that I don’t understand. You’re awesome, dude. πŸ˜€

  82. That one on top… β€œ To the Bitter End…” πŸ™‚

  83. purplecorvus says:

    My kindle is a fancy doorstop, nothing beats a good book. Knowing my luck, I’d get taken out by a rogue copy of a Kerry Katona biography flung from someone’s window.

  84. Throwcase says:

    I love your phrasing.
    “Menacing heft” is a classic

  85. snowgood says:

    A great collection, George Orwell is the best of what I can see.

  86. I laughed and laughed at this. brilliant.

  87. Laura says:

    Yikes! Death by literature! Yes, get some brackets or whatever you need to sleep safely, so you can continue writing.

  88. sunbystar says:

    We have to think that it does not matters if you read from paper or electronic device, the main thing is read and preserve the trees ( = our lungs). It is time to finish being so pickish with the books. Happy Monday!

    1. That is the debate, whether one form is better on the environment than the other. Kindles, not forgetting, require a constant supply of energy, books do not. Not to mention the manufacturing process of the Kindle – it’s really quite a fascinating debate. My choice, however, is entirely a matter of personal preference.

  89. vsvevg says:

    Funny. I look forward to more. Thank you for following vsvevg. paz Abby

  90. mitchteemley says:

    I’ve been told I live in my head. You may be even more live-in-your-head-er than me. That’s a sort of a compliment. ;>)

  91. lbeth1950 says:

    There are worse ways to go.

  92. Gator Woman says:

    Wee used to have a similar book shelf above our bed in California.
    It was completely cleared right after the 6.5 Northridge 6.6 Earthquake and never had anything heavier than a marshmallow on it since.

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