Battle of the Bookshelf (bookshelf series, 1)

This Sunday, I spent the day building IKEA bookshelves.  Two Billy bookshelves to be precise, in the way all IKEA instructions inevitably are. (Love those Swedes – even I feel DIY worthy. Tack very much.)

Basically, there comes a point were you can no longer choose to send a book to Oxfam in order to make room for another title on the shelf. Furthermore I had , not one, but piles of books waiting to be added to my collection and my shelves were already packed with can’t-get-rid-of-these reads. These include my A’Level copy of The Heart of Darkness (filled with copious notes scribbled in the margins), a collection of classics and some French novels from my university days including a favourite L’Etranger, by Albert Camus, a few of my childhood favourites (Where the Sidewalk Ends and Make Way for Ducklings), hardbacks signed by authors I’ve worked with, my now dilapidated Oxford English Dictionary, and then books I wish to keep to reread or recommend and lend to friends (The Help, I, Fatty, The Kite Runner, Nightfall, etc..)

So there you have it. Cue four hours spent rearranging furniture, drilling, screwing, lifting, dragging, pushing, swearing, and finally, when I’d almost lost the will to live and cursed my literacy, the bookshelves were up and in place!

And I’ll now take a brief moment to offer a few words of wisdom to consider should you embark on similar bookshelf building toils:

a) When you follow IKEA instructions, always…always, do things in the order that they tell you to do them. You may think you’ve found a far quicker and smarter way, but believe me when I say: IKEA is always right.
b) Heavy bookshelves that can’t be carried on your own, can be moved with relative ease by placing a yoga or camping mat underneath it and sliding it about the house.
c) Don’t be suprised to note that your flat conversion has anything but straight floors, leaving your bookshelf looking decidely and frustratingly lopsided when erected. You can battle with placing bits of wood, folded bits of card, random other pieces of junk under one side of it and risk death-by-falling-bookshelf,  or alternatively, just live with it. (You will end up doing this anyway…)

But building the structure was the easy part! Now came the moment to deliberate over the layout. Do we have uniform or varying sized shelves? Do we keep the classics together? Do we have all the books standing up, or some piled horizontally? Do we colour code? Do we place other things next to the books – a picture frame, a plant? There’s an art to nice bookshelf displays – which I now know I clearly don’t possess.

So a plea to other bookshelf owners: If you are particularly proud of your bookshelf arrangement, please send me a picture at It may serve to inspire me and other readers… and there might even be a prize for someone at the end of it.

Chiara Priorelli, Publicity & Online Marketing Manager

Recommend This:

Leave a Reply