Today I'm introducing a new feature ("Show Us Your Bookcase") at TYWKIWDBI, inspired by a Guardian essay last year:
Only a bookshelf can truly hold a reader's history and future at the same time... A lifelong reader myself, I've always had an obsession with seeing a person's bookshelf, to get a sense of what they've brought inside their home and their head. Bookshelves are universal in that almost everyone has one, and unique in that no two collections are the same... Sharing your shelf is sharing yourself – showcasing the building blocks that have crafted your knowledge, personality, and identity.As I read that essay, I was reminded that as a young man I was always eager to examine the bookcases of friends and colleagues to learn more about them. I confess to still doing that when I visit homes for holiday parties.
So I'll start, with a photo and a brief description (in case the image doesn't supersize) of one of five bookcases in my basement office.
On the top shelf are the complete novels of Agatha Christie, painstakingly scavenged from used-paperback-book stores over perhaps a decade. Below that, D&D figurines and guidebooks (gathering dust) and a mix of sci-fi and miscellaneous books.
The third shelf down has the residua of what was once a complete collection of the Time-Life Reading Program, first acquired by subscription in the 1960s, then supplemented from old bookstores and the internet, then finally weeded down to just the ones I had rated 4+ after reading. Behind that and to the right are the complete works of John Dickson Carr/Carter Dickson in used paperback and hardbacks, from bookstores and eBay. Also a stack of favorite sci-fi stories ruthlessly ripped out of annual paperback collections because I didn't want to save the whole book.
Below that the Random House Dictionary that I grab when I need something quickly (the OED doesn't fit on the shelves) and some reference books and small books. Under that a shelf of mostly nonfiction and archaeology, and finally a tall shelf with notebooks, photo albums, and office supplies.
Scattered on the shelves are some non-book items, including pix of my late father, some geodes and knick-knacks, a spritz-bottle for chasing away cats, and a treasured piece of mortar from the Berlin Wall ("ein Mauerspecht"), pried loose in the dark of night from the East side (!) of the wall in 1989.The rest of my life is delineated by other bookcases and shelves, but this will do as an introduction.
If you'd like to participate and share your stuff with other TYWKIWDBI readers, here are the guidelines:
1) Participation is strictly limited to faithful readers of TYWKIWDBI who consistently identify themselves by names in comments. For this feature "Anonymous" readers are left out (because we wouldn't know which anon was which). But it's o.k. if you access the comments via the Anonymous choice on the pulldown, and then sign your name, as Swift and others do.
2) The photo(s) can be of a single shelf (if that defines you), or of a bookcase, or even a wall or room. Email it to me at the address in my bio in the right sidebar. Please exclude info (or blur an item) that identifies you too precisely, and show only content that's safe for work. You can tidy up a shelf, but don't create an artificial one - this is the equivalent of a come-as-you-are party.
3) I'd prefer that you NOT include yourself in the photo (this is not a "bookshelfie"), but a pet would be fine.
4) Include a few words or several paragraphs re things interesting or unusual, but I reserve the right to edit down rambling dissertations and confessionals.
5) Depending on how many readers participate, I'll plan to post perhaps one item every couple weeks.