What my bookshelves say: a meme

I think this ties in quite neatly with the random books meme, so here goes. I saw this at Box of Books and at Of Books and Bicycles too, and I suggest you head on over and read their self-analysis. Clearly, the next step is for those of us who live close enough together to assess each other’s shelves…

  • My priority is fiction: those shelves are organised alphabetically and are fairly carefully tended. The non-fiction? That goes in whatever space is left over, in any old order.
  • I’m a completist: see those long runs of books by Bernard Cornwell, Patrick O’Brian, Ian Fleming, Ian Rankin? I listened to some of the early O’Brians, but I still bought the print. Notice how each series is mostly the same editions? They were each completed in a short enough time frame that the editions didn’t have time to change.
  • I have a soft spot for Persephone: these are not part of the alphabetical order, they are on their own shelf. Their dove grey and cream covers are so striking when they’re together (although marred by the Persephone Classics edition of Mariana, which I will clearly have to replace with the traditional edition.)
  • I’m not afraid of big novels or series: Galsworthy, Powell, Trollope, Proust, Scott. And you can tell that Proust is work in progress, by the way there are only two on the ‘already read’ shelf, with vol 3 on the TBR shelf.
  • I mostly read British or American fiction: it’s not that you would search entirely in vain for a translated work on the shelves. But you would search. And then you’d find the aforementioned Proust, or Zola. I have a hard time with translations and I usually end up dissatisfied and uncomfortable, feeling as though there’s a veil between what I’m reading and what the author wrote.
  • I’m a classicist: one small shelf containing the Oxford Classical Dictionary, sundry translations of Euripides, a few textbooks. But beware! Unless you know what you’re looking for, this shelf is lying to you. The lack of any pure texts says I have to read everything in translation, which means I am no true classical scholar.
  • I don’t read poetry: there are some poetry collections jumbled in on the non-fiction shelves, but by and large I simply don’t understand poetry. I used to think I ought to persevere; now I think there’s no ‘ought’ about it but maybe one day I’ll make an effort.
  • I do read: 18th and 19th century lit, mystery and detective fiction, contemporary fiction, classic children’s books, chicklit and regency romances, sci-fi, fantasy, horror, comic novels.

And generally, what you can tell about the room that most of the fiction lives in, is that it’s my room. It doubles up as our spare room, but it’s really my territory and I know that it’s been fully ceded to me because Mike no longer bothers to vacuum in here. I looked round one day and noticed that the basics of how I furnish haven’t changed since I was at university. Tidy, uncluttered, colourful and comfortable, well equipped with reading lamps and places to put your tea!

So, I noticed that some of the shelves look to be at crazy angles. That is partly my terrible camera skills but also, they really are leaning – there’s not a straight wall, nor a right angle in this apartment. We have to believe the spirit level and let our eyes adjust!


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I've run out of books. Again.

4 thoughts on “What my bookshelves say: a meme”

  1. I love this meme and yet I can’t think of anything more constructive to say about my bookshelves except ‘this woman is obsessed with reading’. I do love looking at pictures of other people’s bookcases too – the leaning tower of Piza angles are particularly fun.

  2. I love that you added photos! What a nice collection you have, Ms Musings. And a big American high five for not being afraid of Trollope. There are not many of us out there these days, so, sisterhood!

  3. LItlove – You should get Mr Litlove to do a guest post with what he thinks your bookshelves say. Although it could still be ‘this woman loves reading’.

    Ella – Thanks! I love Trollope, and I’ll be working my way through the Palliser series this year. Sisterhood indeed!

  4. fascinating, seriously I like finding out about how other people organize their shelves

    would you believe I group my books according to publisher

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