Thursday, December 22, 2011

Do your bookshelves speak?

I'm sitting here, in my dining room, waiting for the laundry to finish so I can hang it out on the line, and behind me, my bookshelves are groaning under the burden I've put on them. They're huge shelves, almost floor to ceiling, and they are both absolutely heaving with books. Not just lined up nicely in their rows, spines outward, but piled high in a jumble of words. If there's an earthquake, and I'm sitting here, I'm doomed to death by literature.

And these are not my only bookshelves. The hallway is lined in books too. So anyone walking in here is going to know someone, if not everyone, in this house likes to read. On closer inspection though, the shelves tell other stories. Closest to the front door, the shelf is full of map books, biographies of sports people, writing manuals and all my published work. Anyone glancing at that shelf will know the person living here has traveled or lived in London, Berlin, LA, Melbourne and Moscow. They may also suspect someone in the house is an avid follower of Formula One. It's also pretty clear someone in the house is a Mac geek...

It's also pretty obvious kids live here (and not just because the floor is littered with Lego and other toys) because two whole shelves in the hallway are stuffed with picture books and early readers. I was looking at these shelves yesterday and noticing how fast they're filling up with chapter books. My oldest son is already an avid reader. I was reading him the second Harry Potter book a few weeks ago and he decided I wasn't going fast enough, so finished it himself. In one night. He's only seven...

In the dining room the books speak the loudest. There's a whole two shelves devoted to film books. Biographies of movie stars and directors, analytical studies of work by certain directors, film studies text books and other film books. Under these, are the music books. Some are on sound theory and building recording studios, others are bios of musicians and bands. Clearly the people who live here are interested in film and music. And art? There's a shelf of art books there, interspersed with dictionaries, poetry collections and other miscellaneous stuff.

Then on to the fiction. This is entirely my domain, and is a varied and eclectic collection. Toward the bottom are my YA books, a shelf that keeps growing in size, banishing other books out into the hallway. Above that are my favorites. There are weighty Russian novels, popular fiction, second-hand shop finds and classics. They're not really organized in any real way (I don't alphabetize or anything anal like that). Nabokov sits nestled against Fannie Flagg, Berlin Alexanderplatz sits between a cyber-thriller and a Carl Hiaasen anthology.

I hate tho think what this jumble might say about me. But then again, maybe it just says I read. I read a lot and I read widely.

What do your shelves say about you?


  1. My shelves say...I give a lot of books away. :)

    I find that I rarely reread books. There are just too many out there I haven't read. So I have only two books shelves of books. The rest I give away. To friends, family, charity.

    I suppose if I had awesome bookshelves I might reconsider... :)

  2. My downstairs shelves scream pretention. The shelf in the upstairs hallway screams - you married a sci-fi nerd and a history buff(on closer inspection of my husband, though, it's only half the case).
    The huge shelf in the playroom says that we love archaeology, ancient history and picture books.
    The other huge shelf (near my sewing) says that there MUST been a teenage girl avid reader in the house . . . but . . . those would be mine.

    FAB post BTW :D

    I'm so going to do this later on :D

  3. I wish I could give books away. I do, sometimes, but I do re-read my favorites and I just can't bear to part with anything.

    Nothing in my house screams pretension, I'm afraid. It would be nice to have something prestigious, but it's all pretty worn and trashed up by now... One day we'll be able to have nice things. But probably not until my two rambunctious sons leave home.

  4. Sounds like to me you love to read and you love to learn. My bookshelves usually got through that, but as space gets hard to find, I have to go through and decide what books need to go to the library and what to keep. I hate doing it. I wish I could keep them all.

  5. I tend not to hand onto books long after I read them, and I only have about thirty or so. So I guess my singular book shelf does not say much.

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