When I was young I dreamed of one day having my own book-lined room. It wasn’t that we didn’t have books at home, but there weren’t tottering mounds of them, let alone bulging shelves. For one thing, we were thrifty users of the local library, which meant operating a strict revolving-door policy: one volume out for every one that came in. Individual books simply didn’t have time to set up home.
I knew that not everyone lived like this because you’d sometimes see pictures in the Sunday supplements of Peter Hall or Jonathan Miller at home in their studies. Behind them would be hand-built shelves (no Ikea for them), stuffed higgledy piggledy with books. Where they’d run out of space you