On Bookshelves

It’s interesting what we notice when we walk into someone else’s house for the first time.  Some look at the decor. Others check out the view. Still others may look at the art on the walls.  I look for the books. Not only the titles, but how they’re arranged. When I see a celebrity house featured in a magazine I study the pictures to see what that celeb keeps on his or her bookshelf.  Often I can make out a few titles. It tells you a lot about a person. It’s like  a tiny peek into their heart and mind.

The first thing I look at when studying a bookshelf is what this person reads. Fiction? Nonfiction? Sci-fi? Romance? Crime?  Someone’s taste in books can say a lot about him or her. But I also look at how they’re organized. Are the books thrown haphazardly? Are they organized by author? Genre? Does this person read paperbacks or hardcovers? Are the books collectors editions or mass market paperbacks? Used or brand new? These questions will let me know what someone is like. It also answers the most important question: Is this person a reader?

Oh I know that there are many wonderful people out there that aren’t big readers. That’s fine. But as a bibliophile myself, I naturally gravitate toward those that share my condition.  I tend to sense a kindred spirit in someone whose books appear to be read and well loved. If the spine isn’t even cracked that tells me that it’s more likely that the book is for show.

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One of several book shelves

Take me for example. I live in a small apartment that is slowly and steadily being taken over by books. The majority are on shelves, but some are in piles on the floor and there’s usually one or two on my nightstand as well.

So what would someone judging my bookshelf take away?

  • Varied tastes with most genres represented to some degree.
  • Likes to keep series together and group books roughly by genre. Series and books by a common author are kept together.
  • Likes to have a book nearby at all times.  The book in progress is usually on the nightstand. A pile of back ups are near by.  Then there are the shelves…

I think most people looking at my books would get the impression that I’m a reader. That my interests are varied and that I love books in all their many shapes and forms.

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Another of my beloved shelves

I’m not anti- ebook, but I think that this shelf-mania is one reason why they won’t completely replace the printed book. Even if you happen to be looking at someone’s device, it won’t tell you how the person arranges his or her books, how much they’ve been though, or how invested the person is in books as objects. Really a tablet doesn’t tell you much about the person holding it. And it certainly doesn’t put the person’s inner literary obsessions on full display.

2 thoughts on “On Bookshelves

  1. Pingback: Books As An Accessory? | Fran Laniado- Author

  2. Pingback: #WyrdandWonder Challenge (Part IV) | Fran Laniado- Author

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