Thursday, October 11, 2012

What does your Bookshelf say about You?

As a little girl, I envied my father's bookshelves, which had pride of place in our tiny living room. They were never far from my eyes or my greasy fingers -- I was forever nicking books and reading them inside the covers of my Social Studies or General Science texts. I was caught reading Anna Karenina at 10, Nana at about 12; I was poring through the complete works of Bernard Shaw at 15, along with generous helpings of Chekov, Tolstoy, Ibsen, Hemingway, Flaubert, Rabindranath Tagore, Neruda and of course, Shakespeare. Then came Camus, Kafka, Schopenhauer (which I persisted in, with the aid of distractions from M & B romances, Erle Stanley Gardner, and Alistair MacLean from the local library.)

All through that time, I never wondered what my father's bookshelves said about him. He was a self-taught reader (English was his second language, as it is mine) -- and his books were filled with notes in our mother tongue, and a variety of underlines.

But obviously folks believe that you can tell a lot about the man/ woman by the books he/she reads. Here's an article that says exactly that:
Your bookshelf is an intimate physical representation of your accomplishments (titles as trophies earned), aspirations (that ever growing to-read pile), associations (that book your boss gave to each employee), personal development (those self-help titles that urged you to talk to strangers), guilty pleasures (50 shades of beach reads), escapes (sci-fi to some, travelogues to others), memories (meeting that author, visiting that indie shop on vacation), interests (the bigger the Star Wars fan, the more Star Wars books) and countless other tells that another reader would unconsciously and immediately compare against their own shelf. And that's just the ingredients – how you organise, arrange, and display these titles should impart even more insight as to a reader's personality.
 Perhaps my father's collection showed a well-rounded and insatiably curious reader. I'll have to take a look at the shelves for any deeper insights when I visit him next.

My living room has no bookshelf. All of the shelves are in my study, where they cover two walls, and spur me on or distract me as I write, depending on my level of concentration for the day. They probably show I'm a random reader, with no defined taste, who would read almost anything, depending on her mood on any given day. The pic here is part of the only bookshelf that I could click without bending my back out of shape.

Where are your bookshelves placed, and what do you think they show about you? If you mail us pictures of your bookshelves (you can try me at atozstories at gmail dot com), along with your blog links, may be we could do a blog post series based on bookshelves and their owners.
This post was brought to you by Damyanti from Amlokiblogs.


Karen Baldwin said...

Very interesting post. My bookshelf is always evolving. When I moved to Mexico, I needed to unload many books. The only ones I saved were a few classics and the non-fiction books on spiritualism, like The Four Agreements, etc. My books haven't arrived,but when they do and I set up a bookshelf, I'll take a pic.

Graciewilde said...

Fun post! I have bookshevles all over the house - pretty much every room has books lying around. And I grew up in a house that was like that too - and there was a wall of books in the main living room of the house - including two sets of encyclopedias which I would take off the shelf and just flip through randomly - loved that!
What do the books say about me? I have read most of the books that are in the house - though there is one shelf that is reserved for the "to read" things - that way I have a selection when I get to needing a new book --The books say that I have many interests, that I am curious about lots of things, that I can sustain interests and yet invite new interests to come in and cozy up. I think the books suggest I have an imagination that is fed by fiction as well. This response may have to convert to a blog post! thanks for posting.

Jolie du Pre said...

I read almost everything, and that is what you will conclude if you were to look at my books. The classics? I read those before I turned 21 either in school or on my own. However, I no longer buy print books. These days my books go on my Kindle.

Jolie du Pre
Precious Monsters

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

We have a bookshelf in almost every room. The ones in my office and living room have a lot of science fiction, fantasy, and movie books. That probably comes as no surprise.

Arlee Bird said...

You were fortunate to have such an array of fine books surrounding you as you were growing up. We had lighter reading in our house. My favorite books were the Funk and Wagnalls encyclopedia set that my mother bought by the volume at the grocery store.

In my house now we have books in nearly every room of the house except the bathrooms. A few of the rooms have extensive bookshelves. Someone looking at my shelves would think that I'm all over the place in my reading interests.

Some pictures of my office shelves can be found here:

This is always a fun and interesting topic to explore.

Tossing It Out

Anonymous said...

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loverofwords said...

Great post. Oh how I love books. We have books in every room. I have books that are just "visiting" and are given to the library or to friends, and books that I cannot part with. Some Russian classics and Russian history from college classes and I do have favorite books from childhood--"Madeline," Babar, and pop-up books. Sorry, no Kindle for me.

Jo said...

All of my bookshelves are in one room. When I returned from the States to Canada once more, hubby demanded I thin down my books. Especially having shipped them to Canada from the UK and then down to the States. So now I don't have so many books as I once had. My classic reading was not as broad as yours but I certainly read, and owned, many of them at one time.

My books would tell you I like to cook, and I like speculative fiction. Plus I have a lot of books which are generally classified as coffee table books generally with a geographic bent.

However, I now own one heck of a lot of Kindle books, including some of the classics.

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Damyanti .. plenty of reference books - always had those, still do ... and cookery books ... and good books - that I need to read. I admire your list - perhaps I should start there ..

Cheers Hilary

Paula de Santana said...

Very interesting point. my shelves are on my study, but I don't have enough room so some of my books are still in boxes (new house). Will definitely email a photo. I have a lot of romance and fantasy.

Paula de Santana said...

Very interesting point. my shelves are on my study, but I don't have enough room so some of my books are still in boxes (new house). Will definitely email a photo. I have a lot of romance and fantasy.

Jarm Del Boccio said...

I have books and magazines in every room of the house, and I'm running out of space. They are found on shelves, the couch, on the floor and in baskets. It shows I love and respect books, and loan them out as reference.
I'll be emailing you soon...thanks for the post!

Anonymous said...

Not sure what it says about me but I know it's screaming "dust me, dust me" lol.
Seriously, it is stocked with dictionaries and mysteries, homeopathic remedy guides and alternative medicine journals, O Henry and Greg tell me.

JoJo said...

Nearly all of my books are still packed from my move east in 2011; there simply is zero room for bookshelves here unfortunately. But when they were unpacked, it was a very eclectic collection. Some of them were left behind in WA as my now deceased ex-husband demanded he keep them and trying to be fair & avoid conflicts, I let them go. I have lots of children's/fantasy books, true crime, lots of stuff about my fave rock bands/music, art & travel books, tons and tons of craft books (which are unpacked), Native American spirituality. Some of the classics, and fiction/nonfiction. Lots about & from San Francisco in the 60s.

Unknown said...

Great to hear about all those bookshelves overflowing with books! So someday when it is a Kindle world, there would still be books lurking around :)

The last books I bought were all gifts, I now have most of my new reads on Kindle. Besides, the Singapore National Library is so well stocked, maintained, serviced and cheap, a lot of my reads come from the library, and go back.

Unknown said...

Anyone who wants to showcase a photo of their bookshelves, email me, and I'll get a post going, complete with links to your blogs, and snippets of what you have to say about your books.

Cinette said...

I have the shelves in my office overflowing with paramormal and urban fantasy, along with cozies, thrillersand assorted other classic mysteries, as well as scienctific non-fiction, and books on wicca, witchcraft and buddhism, martial arts. My crime writing reference books line the shelves of my coffee table, my general writing references fill the bookcase in the front hall. my knitting, crochet and gardening books fill the shelves under the TV, and the young adult titles fill two bookcases downstairs.*sigh* Yep. I think it's official: I suffer from Multiple Personality Disorder;-)Or just an unnatural conpulsion to read everything I can get my hands on!

Anonymous said...

Wonderful post. I can relate to reading a book inside the covers of Social Studies and other school texts. I used that trick a lot.

Now I have book shelves in nearly every room of my house. Some are neatly arranged, some are piled with teetering stacks. The books that mean the most are kept in the rooms in which I spend the most time.

Tracy MacDonald said...

I loved this post. Our bookshelves are built in to our walls and in both the family room and living room. The books are almost entirely mine and the collection is quite varied. My books definitely represent books I've read, want to read, and of course my favorites. I'm going to send you some pictures!
A2Z Mommy and What’s In Between

Linda Maye Adams said...

When I was growing up, I went to my maternal grandparents house, and they had this floor to ceiling book case built in. It was such a glorious thing!

But I thought I'd share the library from the other side of the family (the house is historical, owned by the family, and these are the original books):

It was featured on the cover of this catalog.

Linda Adams
Soldier, Storyteller

Damyanti Biswas said...

I've started getting emails of bookshelf pictures already. Will be posting them soon!

Cally Jackson said...

Great post. I often check out other people's book shelves when I'm at their place. Both as an insight into their tastes and to see if there's anything I can borrow. I'm in the car at the moment (passenger seat, of course) but if I remember when I get home, I'll send you a picture of my bookshelf. This could be a fun topic for a blogfest! :-)

Sue said...

Books to drown your sorrows, books to transport you to new worlds, fact, fiction, comedy and cartoons and pretty much a smattering of everything in between, even a few romance for good measure. Some would call it a mish-mash, but they make for a warm home, and there's always something to dip into, no matter what your mood.
I'd already posted about some of our books:

Tina said...

What a neat idea for a post, Damy!
I have a huge book problem. I have bookshelves, but not enough of them. And they're inaccessible. The Engineers eBay business has spilled over from his experimental lab (he's a mad scientist inventor, too, not kidding, our house looks a bit like the one in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang and I'm not really exaggerating...) So I've started just making piles of my books, currently in the living room. My son is a voracious reader with ONE bookshelf, and his books are there, too. Clearly, something has to change. But i'm concentrating on getting well, one slow day at a time.
So yes, my bookshelves describe me perfectly. An unorganized mess with many family contributors to the situation...
Tina @ Life is Good