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My partner and I reversed our relationship a little. We moved in together as roommates and then agreed to meet (oh my god, they were roommates). We still have separate rooms because – if I can start an argument before I introduce my first one – having your own bed and bedroom is best. Falling asleep takes forever; I don’t add any more variables.

We met in a bookstore (I’m sorry, that sounds a lot more like a romance novel than in my real life, I promise). We both worked there for many years, so it is not surprising that we have amalgamated our own collections. While we currently have overflowing bookshelves in our rooms, the majority of our books live on one wall of our living room, on floor-to-ceiling shelves that once stood in the bookstore. They are divided in the middle: on the left are his books, on the right mine.

Anyone walking into our house would know we love books, but they would probably also be able to instantly identify whose books are whose. Its are arranged alphabetically by author and are dominated by science fiction, fantasy and horror. Mine are divided into subsections: read and unread, Sapphic and non-Sapphic, fiction and non-fiction. I have a shelf for lesbian literary criticism and lesbian pulp fiction.

We’ve been together for 5 years and although our book collections have shifted (these shelves used to be in his room), there was never a question of merging. In fact, honestly, I am amazed at couples who do that unless they have almost the same taste in reading. Here are my five reasons why it makes more sense to keep book collections separate.

1) Your shelves are a reflection of your personality.

Who of us hasn’t sniffed around someone’s bookshelves? Not only are book lovers always looking for a new title to add to their TBR, but a person’s book collection says a lot about them too. A look at the shelves shows which genres they are drawn to, which tone and mood they prefer, which topics are most important to them.

Mixing two people’s books together will mess up and make it hard to see anything on their shelves. Are you both Shakespeare fans or are these just one person’s forgotten textbooks? Do you have two copies of Tipping the Velvet because you are obsessed with it, or do you each have a copy of your own? (It’s me. I’m obsessed with it. And there are even three copies.) Which of you has a shelf only for books about Siamese twins, or is it a common interest?

2) Book sorting systems are personal.

We all have our own unique ways of sorting and understanding our books. The idea of ​​mixing read and unread books makes me shiver. These are completely different categories with their own considerations and connotations. For some people, sorting by color means they’ll find a book faster because they’re visualizing a book. For me, my shelves would make it impossible to navigate.

Merging books requires both of you to adhere to a single sorting system, which is likely something very basic so that you can both navigate it successfully. But part of the fun of having a book collection is taking it into consideration and rearranging it every now and then. Perhaps you suddenly decide that you have them by genre or a shelf of your favorite books, or you want to group them by publisher – this is much more difficult when you share shelves.

4) Your shelves should be usable.

If you and your partner don’t share interests in books, you’re probably pulling out your own books 90% of the time, making these shelves very inefficient. Instead of having all of the books you want to read in one place, they are interspersed with books you don’t care about.

Even if you have similar tastes, it can make things a little more complicated. I have a couple of friends who are married and both collect SFF lesbian books – so combining them makes sense. But then they had to set up a color-coded Post-It flag system to keep track of who read each book – a problem I never have with my individual shelves read and unread.

5) relationships end. Books are forever.

Tragic stories about the consequences of merging book collections after the separation are all too common. Sometimes it’s because duplicate copies have been removed – a risk of flavors overlapping. Custody disputes can also arise with individual titles. Unfortunately, the whole ordeal can be so overwhelming and time consuming that a reader may choose to leave the collection instead of going through the painful process of breaking up the books.

We all love to enter into relationships and believe that they will last forever, but there is only one constant in life: books. Books will always be there for you. Your books will outlive you, and they will surely outlive your relationship, no matter how charming. So make the right call: prioritize your books. You will thank me later.