Our Reading Lives

Books Make A Home Feel Like Home

Matt Grant

Staff Writer

Matt Grant is a Brooklyn-based writer, reader, and pop culture enthusiast. In addition to BookRiot, he is a staff writer at LitHub, where he writes about book news. Matt's work has appeared in Longreads, The Brooklyn Rail, Tor.com, Huffpost, and more. You can follow him online at www.mattgrantwriter.com or on Twitter: @mattgrantwriter

After eight years in one place (an eternity in this city), my wife and I are moving apartments!

We’re not going far. Our new place is just a few blocks from where we currently live. We’re looking forward to it, but I’m mostly looking forward to when the hard part—the packing up and the moving and the setting up of the internet and the rearranging of all the kitchen appliances—is behind us.

As exciting as the prospect is, there’s one thing I’m especially dreading: packing up all my books and moving them.

Photo by chuttersnap on Unsplash

Eight years is a long time. A long time to collect a lot of books. And yes, I have a lot of them. And I do mean I here—probably 75% of the books we own are mine (my wife is a much better library patron than I am). I have an admitted problem, which is well documented in all of my Book Riot posts by now.

Most of the time, this is a great thing. I mean, despite living in a tiny apartment and having no room for more, having a lot of books to surround myself with is something I really enjoy. But this is the one time that having too many books is an issue. To tell the truth, that’s partly why I’ve stayed put at my current place for so long. Moving sucks. And books are heavy.

So I’m left instead with the task of packing them all up and moving them. This isn’t my first time moving an excessive amount of books, either. When I first moved to the city, I moved every year for the first three years, and it was always around this time in the fall. I still remember my friends, who graciously gave their time to help out, remarking on how many boxes of books I had.

So obviously I could get rid of more, by giving them away or even leaving them behind. Can you imagine the look on a new tenant’s face as they move into a new space and it’s already full of books? “Wow, look at all the Ron Chernow biographies that come with the apartment! What a treat!”

But sadly, I don’t think getting rid of more books is an actual option. We’ve already pared down as much as possible. Seriously. Most of what’s left are favorites I know I’ll read again; the kinds of books I like to look at on my shelf and relive in my head in the quarter of a second it takes to crawl into bed. The kind that I look at and go, “Wow, I should really read that one again.”

A few are ones I have yet to read. And I definitely can’t give those up.

But as hard as it’s going to be, I also think there’s something to having books follow you from home to home. There’s just something about books that help each new space truly feel like a home. Books are comforting in a way that pieces of furniture, like a couch or a desk, or even other pieces of art, just aren’t. They help a space feel familiar. They help you feel like you belong.

As hard as moving is going to be, I’m really looking forward to getting into my new home and figuring out where my bookshelves can go. I’m excited to unpack all of my books, running my hands through their pages and rearranging them—either exactly the same way or in some new configurations—on those bookshelves.

But I’m most looking forward to seeing them in that new and unfamiliar space, reminding me of all the different stages of life they’ve followed me through, and welcoming me into the next one. I’m looking forward to the way they will help this new place immediately feel like home.