I have a trying history with steel pipe bookshelves. Ever since I saw them on Etsy a few years ago I went and purchased a corner shelving unit. It was close to $200 but I was in love with the aesthetic. Especially since I moved into a new room at my parents’ house where there was an exposed steel radiator, I knew it would look awesome in my room. I kept close tabs on the bookshelf for the first few weeks. The seller said it would take about 3-4 weeks to make and then I would get an email when it was shipped. Well, about 2 months went by and I had forgotten about my bookshelf! I was able to forget about it because I was never emailed. I tried contacting the seller- no response. I tried contacting Etsy, but the policy in which they can intervene has a time limit, which had just passed. So there I was, duped and scammed, about $200 poorer and with no bookshelf. I was devastated but there really was nothing I could do.
But then why is there a steel pipe bookshelf featured in this post? Well flash forward to this past Christmas 2014. Mmm, time travel confusion. Anyways, a bunch of my family came over from North Carolina for the holidays. I had to work for the first few days they were here though (oh NYCDOE, you would make us have school until the 23rd). One day I came home from work exhausted and just wanted to go straight to bed. My sister ran ahead of me and closed my door, telling me to hold up a minute. I assumed she cleaned my room for me (my family does things like that).
But when she opened the door I saw it there: A corner steel pipe bookshelf.
I was literally speechless.
It had been years since the Etsy debacle. How? Who? What?!
My sister told me that my dad, my uncle, and my little brother had gone out to Home Depot, bought all of the pipes and pieces, and after about 2 hours of toiling, they built me a steel pipe bookshelf.
I still can’t believe it but I have it. After all this time it’s mine. I just finished putting in all my books and immediately sat down to write this post. I finally have a bookshelf worthy of an Anatomy of a Bookshelf post for BiblioSmiles! So without further ado, here is a tour of my brand new dream bookshelf.
On the bottom where my bookshelf meets my radiator I debated putting some books there but then I remembered some adorable trinkets I had! I also didn’t want my books getting too hot or catching on fire (would that happen? Probably not, but still). Featured on the lower level is a centerpiece from my aunt’s recent wedding vow renewal celebration. It’s reminiscent of a snow globe with people building a snowman in the snow, with a Christmas tree in tow. I also have wall decor piece that I thought looked cute next to it that says Love. I’m so cheesy, I know.
On Level 1 to the left is a mish mosh of “feel good” books. Things like Darth Vader and Son, Other People’s Love Letters, Crazy Rich Asians, Disneystrology, Hyperbole and a Half, etc. The right side features Gayle Forman’s books (my most recent author obsession), minus Just One Day which is currently being read. It also has the Fifty Shades series. I didn’t think I wanted to put them up on display, but I like the aesthetic of a series on this shelving unit so I thought whatever; I enjoyed the books on a superficial level, who cares what people think of me.
I’m pretty sure Level 2 is my favorite. First of all it features two of my recent favorite authors: Stephanie Perkins and Rainbow Rowell. Also a series I fell in love with unintentionally: The Maze Runner Series. It was unintentional because I only picked up the book when I saw that Dylan O’Brien was in the trailer for the movie. This meant that when I read the books I could imagine Dylan O’Brien as the main character and who doesn’t want that image in their head? I didn’t realize what an exhilarating adventure it would be until I was already sucked in. Then of course there’s my buggy, which was a gift from my mom, and Every Day Counts: The Art of Making Every Day, a Special Day, an adorable book from IKEA that features gorgeous full spread photographs of table settings and food pairings (with recipes included!) to make every day something special. I could probably go on and on about each part of this level because each book has a unique and loving space in my heart, but this post is already too long, so let’s move on shall we?
Level 3. When I initially was starting to set up my books on these shelves I didn’t really think it through how I was organizing them, other than keeping authors together. Themes just sort of happened organically through the process. The theme of this level is books that made me truly who I am today. On the left are some inspirational books that had a deep impact on my view of the world, including favorites like Born to Run and The Alchemist. I also have the Avatar: The Last Airbender graphic novels. After going through my teenage/college years with ATLA, I couldn’t not give them the honor of this shelf. On the right is John Green (minus The Fault in Our Stars, which I am CONSTANTLY misplacing, ugh), Junot Diaz, and Raquel Cepeda. These three authors have had really huge impacts on me; either by consciously introducing me to YA (John Green) and giving me a label for the genre I already loved but didn’t realize, or by supporting me and helping me with my insecurities when it comes to my identity as a Latina who grew up in New York. I spent most of my life pushing down my roots only to realize how much I needed them now. Raquel Cepeda and Junot Diaz were relatable to me and helped me move past self-destructive self-hate regarding my identity.
Last but not least is Level 4. On the left are the books I first purchased when I decided to self-teach myself yoga, back when I first started getting depressed back in 2012. It turned out to be a really influential thing in my life that I still practice today. Next to those are Mannahatta and Wild New York. Both of these books are about the native animal and plant species in New York, and I got them for a natural history class I took my first year of grad school. They’re super cool and super informative. And of course, on the left I have The Artist’s Way recommended to me by Danielle! I need to get around to finishing it…
On the right I have The Giver Quartet which I finished a few months ago. I had no idea that Gathering Blue was apart of The Giver series or that The Son had come out to wrap everything up! The Giver along with a few others was one one of the first books that turned me into a bookworm. And last but not least: the Divergent Series, with a sloth perched on top. I became super dauntless for a few weeks after finishing this series… I still love the all-black grunge outfits.
I am so incredibly thankful to my daddy Harry, my tio Johnny, and my little brother (Little Harry) for this amazing gift. It was more than anything I could’ve ever wished for. I love you!
Alyson Lopez is a middle school science teacher who enjoys reading YA, dressing up, pretending to be an adult, and the finer things in life, like watching TV in bed with no pants on. She’s finishing up grad school this May and cannot wait to be done with being a student. It blows.