02 February 2010

What they are saying about me?

Who is revealing something about me?   My bookshelves, of course.   Although I didn't realize it until I saw this at Dorothy's site.  Originally from Ella at Box of Books.  My shelves are screaming the following things:

1.  "We want more room!"  The top shelve of one is bowed, due to the double- and triple-stacked books placed on top of it.  Subtext:  I hate to shop and continue to put off buying another bookcase. And really, do I need that stack of New Yorker guilt staring at me every day?   I really should pitch some of those old magazines.   I can get it on line! 

2.  "Lots of new books here!"  There are lots of new acquisitions in my library, although not all are recently published.    Untold story:  I had to send most of my library to the dump about seven years ago due to a flood.  Although I think my buying has slowed a bit, I think there for awhile I was trying to build, in quantity at least, the same sized library I had previously.  While I could buy new copies of the books, I couldn't replace the well-worn, cracked bindings of my favorite books, or replicate the notes I wrote in some of them.   Some of the books I miss most frequently are the anthologies that I used in school -- often I think of a passage of an essay, or poem and I can visualize exactly where it was in the book.  How I would love to walk into the other room, search for a few minutes, until I found the book I was thinking of, then flip to some dog-earred, fingerprinted page to read the passage.  While I may be able to find a copy of most of those works, I can't go back and revisit the notes I might have written when I first encountered it, the words I might have highlighted, the definitions I wrote in the margins.   I miss visiting that old reader and her thoughts.

3.  "Disorganized!"   There is little reason as to where my books sit on the shelves.  Generally, of the two bookcases in living room, one is works that I have read, and the other is works that I haven't read yet.  Both need to be weeded and organized and many of the books should go to Book Mooch.  Why?  So I can get more books, of course! 

4. "Someone in this house likes...."

...."Art!"   I have several art exhibit catalogs.   When I travel, I like to visit art museums and I have acquired several books on art as a result.  The oldest exhibit catalog I have is from the first special art exhibit I remember seeing -- an exhibit at the Royal Academy in London on Post-Impressionism in 1979.  The most recent is the book of photos and critical essays that accompanied the exhibit  "The Americans" by Robert Franks, at the Metropolitan Museum last fall.   I've looked through this book numerous times in the last three months; I am in awe of these photographs.   Franks said of his photographs:  "When people look at my pictures I want them to feel the way they do when they want to read a line of a poem twice." Robert Frank, LIFE (26 November 1951), p. 21.  He was right about the quality of his photos, but it isn't just reading a line twice - it is reading the poem over and over again. 

..."Poltical History!"   I have a special table top shelf that features several presidential biographies.  My husband started on a project to read a biography of each American president.  I keep thinking that maybe I'll start reading them too, but somehow that reading project never gets off the ground. 

..."Theology".  I used to belong to a monthly book club that met at a church and usually read something related to faith and spirituality.   If this says anything about me it is that a) I'll read anything, and b) I'm a seeker.  

..."Reads 2 -3 crappy novels a year".   Most of the junk stuff was acquired due to my other monthly book club.  Two or three times a year someone picks a real dog, again proving that I'll read anything -- at least for a few pages.   I could say that I keep these to protect against me becoming a complete literary snob.   So far, it isn't working.  I often wonder why I even bothered to buy them.  Most embarrassing:  Dan Brown's Angels and Demons.  A close second:  anything by Jodi Piccoult or Barbara Delinski.  I refused on principle to buy or bring into my house Glen Beck's The Christmas Sweater.  

... "Likes to cook".   I do like to cook, but I like to eat more.   I have a huge bookcase in my kitchen with over 100 cookbooks, and lots of miscellaneous recipe cards, notebooks, magazine pages.   Besides art-related books, the other souvenir I would ever consider buying when I travel is a cookbook.   Most are in English; some aren't, which has lead to some interesting culinary recreations in my kitchen.   

6.  "Needs more bookcases!".    I have piles of books in nearly every room.  The Shelves cry out for more; the books cry out:  "Shelve us!"    My spouse and I once had a discussion if 52 books on the nightstand, beside the bed, under the quilt rack, etc. was too many.  Can you guess my answer? 

What are my bookshelves saying about me?  That I am a reader!


Ted said...

Hmmm, your bedside pile sounds like someone else's that I know.

Dorothy W. said...

I'm sorry to hear about that flood! How difficult that must have been. I like what you say about your theology books. My shelves definitely say that I'm a seeker too.

Ella said...

What a great collection! I love how bossy and articulate your shelves and books are. (My hardcovers are anxiously awaiting unbowed shelves themselves; I keep promising them, "with the next move, I swear!" but it just never happens.)

Anonymous said...

Formidable set of books by the sound of it! I don't actually have a nightstand - just three piles of unread/in progress books next to the bed.