Five Bookshelves of Fury
For ten years until I had to sell all my books to pay an apartment deposit, I kept my books on twenty-dollar shelves that I "constructed" myself. I went down to Home Depot and tossed ten cinder-blocks in the back of a pick-up, cut down some boards to size, and stacked them up five levels in my bedroom.

No matter how much I shivved and shimmied, the shelves always leaned a full hand away from the wall at the top, like the gaping mouth of a sad teenager.

I always wondered: what would happen to me if this essentially unstable structure zigged one day instead of zagged and came crashing down just as I was trying to find a pitch-perfect Victor Hugo novel to start my day?

But I always decided: to be cut in half by a falling bookshelf would be a fine death. My deadly bookcases made reading into bloodsport. Every time I took down a volume it was equal to leaping from the roof of a party bus in order to deliver a senses-shattering, action-powered elbow drop to the jaw of a Latin-American dictator -- a dictator clutching two primed hand grenades!!!

"Oh no! Here comes action justice!"

The last time I moved, however, I had to get rid of my nice cinder block bookshelves, along with most of my books. Now, instead of lurching at me like a drunk dinosaur, my books all sit at the foot of my bed in a reading queue, just like a person in a nursing home would have.

When I get a new book, I add it to the back of the reading queue. When the reading queue reaches its maximum limit, I give a book away to keep the queue from flooding over into the hallway.

I am no longer a Blood Dragon Master reader. Now I am a Retired Tomato Garden reader. Children on the street shoot me with Silly String and then run away in order to mock me and put me in my place whenever I leave my apartment. They should really be in school, but alas, I deserve it.

Yet, deep down, I still long for danger and outrage from my bookshelves.

I am young and mighty. I am a hurricane of carnage and madness.

I need...



1. The Invisible Book Shelf: A Ticking Clock of Suspended Doom

Invisible book shelves are the brand new thing. You see them all the time in the living rooms of fancy couples who drink martinis and who casually invite you to have threesomes at the conclusions of evenings filled with suggestive bon mots and stories about backpacking through Southeast Asia.

Invisible book shelves defy gravity and hang like goddamaned doom. Each day they are a slightly bigger threat than the day before.

You have to construct an invisible book shelf yourself, which adds a second degree of danger to the enterprise. Your most powerful weapons are the ones you make, because how can you wield what you do not understand? Yet, these invisible book shelves only hang from your wall with the power of your own cunning and skill.


To make an invisble book shelf you take a textbook or some other sufficiently thick novel (or Bible) and then you glue the pages together. You nail on a couple of angle brackets, and then you can pile the rest of your books on top, attached to your wall as if by magic, as if you live in a house filled with teenage psychic turmoil.

It might be difficult to get to the books you need if they are arranged this way, but it is no more difficult than sorting through a pile of books that is sitting on the floor by your desk.

There are detailed instructions for making an invisible book shelf here, at

If you place these invisible bookshelves in a stair-step fashion along your wall, it is as if -- while you were away --- your books formed themselves into a magical staircase to a magical hidden dimension, inviting you to climb them up, up, up through your ceiling and into the clouds!

Do not ever try to do this because you will fucking fall and die. Additionally, it would be a bad idea to place anything valuable below your invisible bookshelves, such as your face.

If you prefer a more traditional vertical display of your books, a company called "Sticklebook" also makes invisble bookshelves that hang in a line and are attached by combs that grip the book covers.

Sticklebooks only work with paperbacks, however, and will mark up the leaves of your books with pincer-lines. They also cost $40 per 13-book shelf.

2. The Coffin Shelf: BURIED ALIVE! WITH BOOKS!

So this guy William Warren wanted to make some kind of social message about how much we should own in life, so he created bookshelves that can also be broken up and turned into a coffin.

The idea is that if you can't fit it on your bookshelves, you won't be able to fit it in your coffin when you die. This is how many possessions = one corpse.

But check it out! Warren's handy gambit means that you will only need to make one purchase in order to have the only two pieces of furniture you will ever need in life: bookshelves to hold all you will read until you pass away and then a coffin to bury yourself in. If Faulkner had a catalog from Ikea in his bathroom, this would be the only piece of furniture circled in red pen.

You can sit in front of these bookshelves on a rattan mat and do Zen hell meditation all day long in your otherwise empty apartment while your cell phone rings from your discarded pants pocket. You can eat a bowl of white rice and drink a cup of black coffee and think about the prospect of your own annihilation from every conceivable point-of-view until you come to terms.

At night, you can break the shelves apart and sleep in your coffin until you get used to the idea that someday this will be all you do. And then, one day when peace and boredom overcome your anxiety, you can rise and select a bit of fiction to read until you are torn forever from time, joy, possibility, and experience.

When you have made your peace with death to an extreme like no other American -- like a dangerous person who spends most of their time with the reprinted words of the dead as their only companions -- perhaps you shall buy a chair or a hatstand.

3. See-Saw Bookshelves: Achieve Balance so that You May Strike with Wisdom

What weighs more? A copy of James Joyce's "Ulysses" or a copy of Clive Barker's "Imajica"? What weighs more? Six Ian Fleming paperbacks or one anthology of Flannery O'Connor short stories? What weighs more? Your shoes or your fern? What weighs more? A typical Hardy Boys adventure novel or a typical Nancy Drew mystery? How many Hardy Boys books does it take to equal one housecat?

Don't you want to know?

You will put these see-saw bookshelves someplace in your house, and you will meticulously arrange books all day and all night until you achieve the perfect balance that causes the shelves to align parallel to the ground.

"Do not disturb Mommy. Mommy is becoming perfect. You may watch."

When this happens, you will be able to take a book down from your shelves, watch the shelves cant to one side or the other, and then put the book back exactly where it needs to go so that your shelves realign once more, as balanced as a crane, squirrel, or old man's checkbook.

When you let people borrow books, you will show them what happens when you take a book away.

They will observe with horror that your shelves immediately drift out of balance and will not be put right until they return your book.

They will return your book two days later and they will also bring you a bag of jelly beans as payment.

People will begin to talk about you with fear and envy behind your back. You will ride the subways standing perfectly in the center of the aisle, holding nothing except your tongue. You will discover people following behind you at parties, writing down everything you say into well-thumbed notebooks. You will not be displeased.

4. Haunted Bookshelves: Speak to Your Fear and Say "I AM FEAR"

With some camshafts and a refrigerator motor, you can build a bookshelf that appears to be haunted by ghosts to the superstitious mind.

Really, the books are not haunted by ghosts. Really, the books are haunted by your own fear.

You can make this contraption the centerpiece of your normal bookshelves, and you can ask the electric specter:

"Oh do I become a living weapon that will be able to dodge Silly String without hesitation as if it is the slow fist of a calorie-drunk bravo who has never had a skill?"

The spirits will reply:

"You must practice your art every day, no matter what it is, even if it is writing. You will learn the secret springs that animate all things. You will begin to view your body as an extension of your will, as opposed to viewing your will as a phenomenon of your suffering."

"And then what?"

"Then you will be able to spin around in three power-dimensions and kick the cigarettes out of motherfucker's mouths with the speed of a whip. The police will follow you around whenever you arrive in a neighborhood, just to see what you look at so they can investigate it later. Foreign governments will each have a codename for you that is the name of a dangerous reptile. You will receive a briefcase from the President and you will not receive the combination unless he dies. Inside the briefcase will be a "Calvin and Hobbes" compendium and a red rotary phone with only one button."

And the books will whir on and on, teaching, clicking, clacking, haunting.

5. Book Bear: This is a Fucking Book Bear

This is a fucking book bear.

This is a fucking book bear.

This is a fucking book bear.

This is a fucking book bear.

Posted by miracle on Thu, 30 Apr 2009 00:46:41 -0400 -- permanent link

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