It is, of course, pretty much impossible to have too many books. However, it's entirely possible to have too many books to fit on one's current bookcases.
Early in our marriage, such a situation would cause Richard to mutter something akin to blasphemy... about 'getting rid' of books. Thankfully he soon learned one does not 'get rid' of books. One might, if one has duplicates, donate one or two to a charity shop. One might, if one's children have outgrown 'easy-read' books donate them to relatives or friends with younger children, although even that is something of a wrench. But in general, the correct response to having more books than bookcase space is: 'we need a new bookcase'.
Despite the rate of increase of books to our house reducing somewhat (thanks to my Kindle, and a strange feeling that perhaps we're almost approaching saturation point, book-wise) we had reached the stage of having more books than shelving-for-books a few months ago. I can usually deal with this by having a significant number of books out on loan at any one stage, but one friend went away for a few months and returned ten without borrowing any more... and I think it's possible that books breed, when left in peace. Here's how our living room (non-fiction) bookcases looked a few days ago:
Yes, there was only one extra pile of books, but the others were jammed in solidly, and there was no room at all for any more. We've moved some to the guest flat but that's also running out of space for books - and since people only usually stay there for a week or two, they are unlikely to need a thousand or so books to choose from.
The fiction ones in the dining room are worse, and we haven't quite decided what to do about those. But I kept looking at the non-fiction bookcases, and getting out my tape-measure, and realised that the black bookcase, shelving DVDs in the photo (perpendicular to the dark brown ones) would in fact fit on the same wall as the other two, if we moved them along a little. And Richard had been saying, for about four years, that we should really run a cable behind the two dark brown bookcases so as to be able to use a lamp we were given that sits on a table out of reach of any plug socket...
So we pondered getting another one to fit there, but wondered if it would all look too dark. Besides, Ikea is in Nicosia, a good half hour's drive from here, and I'm not a fan of shopping in general. So probably nothing would have happened if Richard hadn't received a call from some local friends. The office where they work is closing, and they are taking some of the rather nice bookcases from it; so they have three which they now want to pass on to someone else. And they thought of us. So, the following day we went to have a look, and were excited to see that one of the bookcases is an Ikea one. Pine coloured rather than dark, but we thought that might be all right. And two smaller bookcases. We said we would definitely like the Ikea one and would think about the others.
Yesterday afternoon, we went to collect the Ikea one. It was heavy, but in slow stages Richard and I managed to get it up our outside stairs and into the house. Then we had to remove ALL the books from the dark brown bookcases so that they could be moved, and so that Richard could make the skirting-board cut-out bit a little bigger, to take a cable.
I forgot all about taking a photo until Richard had cut the holes and moved the bookcases, and I had cleaned the rather yucky area behind and underneath. He put the Christian books back in their bookcase quickly, and we found that we didn't need to take all the DVDs out of the black bookcase in order to move it. I'd just started putting the general non-fiction books back when I thought I should probably take a picture of the mess:
Then I put more of the books back, spreading them out a little. Then we moved the new bookcase to its position, and put all the DVDs in it:
We were pleased that it looked just fine to have light wood there. Rather better than the black did, in fact. Richard plugged in the lamp just to check that it would actually work after all this time, and we were pleased to find that it did:
Then I decided to try a few ornaments on the empty shelves so that the black bookcase didn't look too bare while awaiting more books. And after a few experiments (I am far from artistic) settled on this look, with two photos, three animal ornaments (which once belonged to my grandmother), and the digital photo frame:
I'm surprised how much better it looks, and not too crowded at all.
The whole process was complete in about two and a half hours ,but it's getting warm in Cyprus now and we were exhausted by the time we had finished!