"Books by men and women must be segregated, the old Bostonian wrote, to avoid any appearance of impropriety amongst the sexes. Of course, if two writers were married, one may make an exception and place them together.We were assured that this custom was not followed in our great-grandmother's library. Edith Wharton's books sat next to those of Henry James. (They were great friends in real life, so why should they be kept apart on the shelf?) As a child, this odd and ancient rule fired up my imagination. Could books actually have a life of their own? Would Sarah Orne Jewett fall in love with F. Scott Fitzgerald if their books touched on a shelf? Foolish, I know, but it is often striking what one remembers from childhood."
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