Shelfies with Irish writers: how the literati keep their libraries in order

Self-confessed shelf addict John Boyne checks out how fellow authors like to stack

Cecelia Ahern fantasises about “a surreal magical room, where I could call a book and it would fly off the shelves and land in my hand, like in ‘Matilda’”.

Cecelia Ahern fantasises about “a surreal magical room, where I could call a book and it would fly off the shelves and land in my hand, like in ‘Matilda’”.

Would I sound crazy if I admitted to knowing that I have 16,344cm of shelving in my house, of which 10,322cm are filled, leaving me room for about 3,000 more books before I have to build an extension? Perhaps, but I would suggest that people who don’t know their shelf statistics are the crazy ones.

I’ve been a reader, writer and book collector since I was a child and, as I’m organised to the point of OCD, I have an incredibly simple system in place for my library. Irish writers can be found in the living room while their British counterparts are next door in my office. The Americans, Canadians and Antipodeans each have a room upstairs where, above the staircase, live the books in translation. Throughout, authors are shelved alphabetically, and, within that, their books run in chronological order. I mean seriously, what could be simpler?

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