His and Hers

[except books. source]

When Scott and I moved in together eight years ago there were a fair amount of arrangements and compromises to be made. We negotiated the artwork for the walls, decided how we'd handle things financially (separately... we'd handle things separately), and, the big one- how the books would be arranged.

Given the fact that both of us were English majors in college (it's how we met! In a discussion section for Detective Fiction at UCLA), and still avid readers, we had hundreds of books to deal with in our one-bedroom apartment. There were so many questions: Would we combine our books into one collection? Keep them separate? What would we do with duplicates? Who would decide the system of organization? Would future books be seen as part of the overall collection, or owned by one of us?

Now I understand that in the whole scheme of life, these really aren't important questions. But we were young and unmarried- who knew if it was going to work? If we split up who would get custody of the books that were "ours"? If we got rid of duplicate copies who would get the remaining book? In the end, we decided to combine our collections, taking duplicates out and saving them in an alternate location (aka a closet), just in case. I, of course, being the order-instiller (doesn't that sound so much better than "control freak"?) that I am, decided on the actual organization. 

Fast-forward to present day, where we've been married almost six years and have enough space for lots of books, and I'm still uptight on the joint book situation. What's mine is mine and what's his is his. We've gone "halfsies" on maybe two or three book ever, and I can tell you with absolute certainty what books are mine and what books are his. The biggest problem, though, and the reason that catalyzed this post, is that I generally won't read his books. It's not that he won't let me- he's incredibly generous and a lot more into sharing that I am (just ask him about my orange juice system...)- I just feel like I should read all of my own books first. There's two problems with that. The first: he gets books that I want to read. The second: I will never be done with all of my books. My TBR pile will never be eliminated. Therefore, using all that "if than" logic proof stuff from math or philosophy or whatever, I will never get to read certain books that I want to, because I will never finish my own, since I add anywhere from twelve to three hundred (not really) a year.

There have been a few exceptions, all for book club, over the years, The Selected Works of TS Spivet, Catch-22, and The Goldfinch coming to mind. But if there isn't an outside purpose, it ain't happening. 

Back to the catalyst. Last Tuesday David Mitchell's newest, The Bone Clocks, came out and he ordered it, using his Amazon points. I really want to read it- Mitchell is awesome and I need things to look forward to. Trying to work my "halfsies loophole," I offered to pay for half so that I'd allow myself to read it. He, knowing this is one of my quirks, refused, telling me that I could just read it when he's done. But that's not how it works. I have nearly fifty books of my own to get through first, I can't let one that's not mine "cut." 

I'm stuck.

And I may have some sort of psychological disorder. 



  1. Lol. Well...I'm not sure what advice to give you except to order your own copy? My husband doesn't read, so my books are all mine, and thank god for that, because I have major problems with sharing. I still have a book missing that I lent to a girl I work with and hasn't returned it 5 years later. I own a second copy of it, but it still bothers the shit out of me.

  2. Oh that's a dilemma I'm glad I don't have as my husband reads NOTHING..ugh, another rant, another day.

  3. This was funny to read but I totally get it. My sister and I used to go halfs on certain books which we both wanted to read, then would argue who got to read it first. Then the best bit...I moved half way across the world and now she gets all the books that I half own and never got to read because I couldn't pack them and bring them with me!

    The Bone Season though - you should just buy your own copy :) Or borrow from the library, would that work?

  4. To each his own...but I have to say, I can't personally imagine not reading each other's books! There are books of my husband's that I don't care to read, so I won't add them to the good ol' TBR, but if he were to buy a book by one of my favorite authors before I had the chance to (OK I guess that is not all that likely given my out-of-control book-buying habit...but that's not really the point) I would have to read it! I would let him read it first, but there's no way I could see it there on the shelf and not read it. But if it really bugs you, I'd say borrow it from the library -- that's a loophole too, right?