[In 2013 I introduced] 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 you can join in 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 show a single shelf (if that defines you), or a bookcase, or even a wall or room (I will take some liberties in cropping images). Email it to me at the address in my bio in the right sidebar [retag4726(at)mypacks.net] or provide a link to an online photo by writing a comment on a post. 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 sentences or several paragraphs re things interesting or unusual, but I reserve the right to edit down rambling dissertations and confessionals. I will proofread your text for any obvious typos and add italics to book titles to standardize the formatting. And I may truncate text that starts to ramble or gets too personal (or promotional).
All readers should feel free to comment on these book posts both re the books chosen and the story lines accompanying them (unkind comments will be zapped as soon as I see them).
If you want me to modify what I've posted, let me know. Or if you want to add more details re something you've already emailed me.
Reposted in 2018 from 2013, and reposted again in 2020.
I'm willing to add some more bookcases to the series if new readers want to send in material as per above, but I probably won't add new entries until after the holidays.
Sorry, Stan. You know SOMEONE had to do this.
Umm.. you only have one bookcase?ReplyDelete
I have like 8?
Um... the post says "one of five bookcases in my basement office." When I step out the door to the basement family room there are 10 more, but they mostly have my wife's books, as do the ones upstairs.Delete
Do piles of books that have never made it onto the shelves count?ReplyDelete
Well, I was hoping for a little continuity to the series of posts, but if you've got a dumpster-load in your driveway or a floor sagging from a hoard, you could send those along instead.Delete
These books seem to breed faster than I can build bookcases!Delete
My wife "allows" me to keep only the books I really, really treasure. Guilty pleasure books (thrillers, etc.) get read, kept for a few months, then mysteriously disappear.ReplyDelete
I'm sure we all have the books that "speak to us," or that are of special value. Me? I have the complete Sherlock Holmes, a huge collection of the Louis L'amour's short stories, the complete works of O. Henry, the Bible, Tolstoy's "Anna Karenina" (because it is considered the best novel ever written), the Bible, and the complete works of Shakespeare. With the exception of Shakespeare, I have read all of these (and am working on completing the Bard).
I always get peeved a bit at those snooty types who look condescendingly on you for not having read Proust, when they have never read the Gospels, etc. Reading is something wonderful--and even if you don't read "high literature," you can still find great pleasure and meaning, I'm sure.
If I had kept all the books I have ever read (including those 40something Hardy Boys books I read as when I was much younger), I would be immediately shot by my wife. So, as it is, I am allowed to keep only those that I really liked (which included "Market Wizards").
Have you ever seen the "book porn" tumblr? It is one of my favorite websites.ReplyDelete
I have this one bookmarked -Delete
I suspect there are others as well.
The library internet blocks that, maybe because of a certain word in the title?Delete
Nice book selection, but you definitely need a better quality bookcase. This one looks way too flimsy and some of the shelves are already bending under their loads. Perhaps try something with thicker shelves, like these ones:ReplyDelete
I built all of my bookcases from kits; they were the only thing I could afford as a graduate student, and they've held up for decades. At my age I think rather than get new bookcases I should get rid of some books and stuff.Delete
You could go the Terry Pratchett way, if you can afford it. Have them built sturdy enough to support the Encyclopedia Britannica on each shelf plus the weight of the person trying to reach what's on top.Delete
Sent you a sample. So you can choose.ReplyDelete
I wouldn't know which bookcase to choose. One shows interest in science fiction. Another is world history. Another is ancient history and Latin American history. Another is Spanish language books. Three others are hodgepodges. Then there are the paper back books in the linen closet. And I'm trying so hard to get rid of books, but it's almost like giving up children. Harder, considering some books and some children.ReplyDelete
When I turned 50, I bought myself real solid oak shelves. They are easily the most money I've ever spent on furniture, and I don't regret a penny. The delivery guys thought there had been a mistake in the order and were prepared to take half of them back until they realized all the boxes stacked to the ceiling were filled with books. Sent my picture and description along...ReplyDelete
As I child (about three years old)I was taken to a distant relative's home, and after wandering their home I returned to the living room full of adults and announced very clearly in shock, "They don't have any book in this house!" My family talks about this story to this very day. I don't check out bathroom cabinets like I've read about, I check out bookshelves. I'm trying to decide which of our many bookshelves to take a picture of to send to you.ReplyDelete
Sorry for the delay. If you are still accepting submissions here is mine.ReplyDelete
A deliciously eclectic mix. Tx.Delete
Just looked at the full-size image and noticed that I have the same "Computer Organisation and Design" textbook. Haven't referred to it since my university days, though. My much smaller bookcase is on the queue, but I decided to omit the textbook shelf.Delete
Long time lurker loving the bookshelf series.ReplyDelete
Hey Stan, to re-schedule a previously published post on Blogger, you must first hit the "revert to draft" button on the top right. Then you can set a publish date.ReplyDelete
That makes sense! Thank you Miss C.Delete
Thanks for floating this up again. When I go to people’s houses I always tend to gravitate to the bookshelves and the backyard. That is after I stop into the kitchen.ReplyDelete
My dads books ended up at my ex mother-in-laws house years ago.
I went to get them back after a few years had passed, and discovered she sold them all in a garage sale.
That was a heartbreak. I’ve replaced one of them, a funny little book called “Life In A Putty Knife Factory”.
So obviously I'm an adult content producer, not that you'll find anything having to do with my business in my bookshelves. I'm an avid reader of everything from comedic fiction, to comic books, to sociology, history, and religion to name a few. What I love about my shelves is that they combine everything I love- antique volumes sit next to signed copies of the funniest things I've read, the Histories of Studs Terkel nuzzle up to the Tin Tin comic books of the late 80s. What most people would never assume about me is that I have a Masters in Library Science, I think my shelves say "Librarian" way more than they say anything else...ReplyDelete
Will post, probably early January. Tx.Delete
My bookshelves are so spread out, they aren't impressive at all. Home repair reference and gardening book are in the solarium (which is what I call my back porch/laundry room), cookbooks are in the kitchen, photo albums are in the bedroom, books for work are in the office, cherished books are in the living room, antique books are in the stairwell, guilty pleasures are in my office, and a lot more are spread out upstairs. And I do cull them often.ReplyDelete
Oh I remember when you did this before! This is WONDERFUL!!!! Thanks so much and keep showing these! I'll try and send a photo sometime soon but even if I don't I so love seeing these! Thanks!!!ReplyDelete
Well, I'm going to plead stupid here, or sleep deprived, and ask how you post a picture?ReplyDelete
Can you email a photo or two to me at the blog's address (email@example.com)? And try to add a paragraph or two of explanation of what's in the photo. :-)Delete