As I walk into someone’s house for the first time it is the first thing I typically look for once all the pleasantries have been gone through. Do they read? What do they read? What types of books are nowhere to be found? What else do they have on those oh so telling shelves? Pictures of family from far away, souvenirs from various trips to the local aquarium, a dragon with a crystal ball in one hand and a sword in another, each item tells its own tale. Or are their shelves void of all literature (the horror) and filled with movies and video games? One could tell a lot from what is kept on a bookshelf. For me, perusing someone’s bookcases is much better than opening their medicine cabinet. And let’s face it, far less creepy.
Take my bookcases as an example.
One can immediately tell I like to read as six mid height shelves line one wall of the living room with another stashed across the room and my tv stand also being used to house several titles. There they are. My likes, preferences and needs right there on display for anyone to observe.
It’s clear to even the untrained eye that there are a few obvious well, observations to be made. The first, there is little to no rhyme or reason as to how my books are shelved. I do have one bookcase filled with books from my heritage. Books I consult on a semi regular basis as I bead and make regalia for family and friends along with those stories I share with my children.
As for the rest of my books, lining the far wall from one end to another, they are a lot like the rest of my life, carefully contained chaos. It all looks neat and orderly at first glance, but dive deeper into the shelves and you are bound to notice Jeanne Kalogridis nestled next to Ken Follett and Philippa Gregory on one shelf while Sandra Gruen snuggles up next to William Shakespeare on another. Strangely enough, I am totally content to keep things that way. I know where my books are even if no one else in the house is able to locate what they are looking for. Perhaps someday I will arrange them by color, alphabetically by author’s last name or by genre. For now, they can stay right where they are, thank you. Even if it does drive my youngest daughter crazy.
Next, one is most likely to notice the family photos and other assorted bric-a-brac not only lining the top of each bookcase, but staged here and there amongst the books too. It is clear family matters deeply to me. Those pictures of times long (or not so long) ago detail where we have been and where we love to go back to. See that lopsided, black lump of clay on the end? That’s my eldest daughter’s ode to her beloved family pet, Charlie. The basket resting center stage? My potato basket, gifted to me by a family friend and where my cats love to nap. There are pictures of my children at weekends away, and other family members I wish I could see more often. All tell a tale of our life and house many memories.
Ultimately, bookcases and what we choose to put on and in them are a very physical representation of who we are deep down. I’m curious to see what you have on your shelves and what tales they tell of who you are.