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Welcome all dreamers, fantasists, bibliophiles, and romantics. Join me Mondays and Fridays for speculation about other worlds, exploration of the human heart and soul in fiction and fact, sojourns in history and science, advice and tidbits in the realms of story, and thoughts on everything in between...

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

What Our Bookshelves Say about Us: Part 1


I must thank Jessica, who commented on Monday’s blog, for the inspiration for today’s enjoyable to write post.  Watch out, the rest of you.  You just might be my next inspiration. J

But onto our topic.  What do our bookshelves say about us?  To answer this, I know no better means than to examine my shelves and hope they encourage your thoughts toward exploring your own person and shelves.

First of all, I recently moved into smaller quarters, so the ten or so bookshelves my husband and I once crammed with tomes and other odds and ends has been reduced to a measly four.  I’ve had the recent, painful experience of hauling something like fifteen boxes of books to sell at the used bookstore simply because I haven’t the space to store them anymore.  (I’m not a packrat, honestly.  No, I am, especially for books.)

Here are a few pictures of my current collection to give you an idea.



You’ll notice that on one set of shelves I have books stacked vertically rather than arranged neatly in alphabetical order like they ideally ought to be.  You could say that this is because I’m disorderly, but the truth is that I haven’t the heart to part with enough books to make all my shelves nice and even and pristine.  Also, since I’m still in the process of fixing up the old house and adjusting to our new place, I haven’t had the time to sort everything out as I would like.  I shoved many of those books on that particular shelf to give them a safe place to stay until I can arrange them more carefully.

Lessons about me from this:
  • Laura loves books perhaps too much.
  • Laura’s life is hectic at the moment with little time for either sleep or proper arrangement of books.

Despite the fact that these shelves look haphazard and careless, there is an order to them.  Nonfiction and fiction have already been separated.  Nonfiction is generally arranged by subject then by author.  Fiction is already alphabetized.  Paperbacks and hardcovers are separated, at least until I can decide in our new home if I want to shelve them side by side or in different sections.

Lesson:
  • Laura must order her life even if it looks like chaos to everyone else.

If you look at the types of books on my shelves, you’ll undoubtedly gain insights into my interests; though, perhaps the wide variety of topics might more confuse.  Let’s take nonfiction and fiction separately.

My nonfiction consists of most of my college textbooks, including an extensive range of psychology and literature books, a large section on medieval history with the occasional volume from other periods.  Around these, you’ll find books on herbs, aromatherapy, massage, music, basketry, blacksmithing, religion, languages, animals, plants, mathematics, sailing, mythology, space, and, of course, writing.  What is the common link in all these topics?  At one point or another, I thought and still think I might need them in research for writing.

Many of these books I’ve flipped through, some I’ve read from cover to cover, and others I have yet to read beyond the table of contents.  In the most random ones, like my pocket Danish dictionary, I found the most helpful bits of information.  In all these books, I find something fascinating, even just conceptually from the title or back cover blurb.

Lessons:
  • Laura is obsessed with writing.
  • Laura really is a packrat.
  • Laura has eclectic interests.
In fiction, my books are a little more limited.  Since getting my Kindle, my physical acquisition of fiction has dwindled slightly.  After forcing myself to part from those fifteen boxes of books I sold to Half Price Books, my collection consists of favorites among science fiction, fantasy, romance, and classic literature.  Among my favorites: The Mercy Thompson Series by Patricia Briggs, The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle, The Princess and the Goblin by George MacDonald, The King of Elfland’s Daughter by Lord Dunsany, Loyalty’s Web by Joyce DiPastena, The Knight and the Rose by Isolde Martyn, The Hallowed Hunt by Lois McMaster Bujold, The Song of Ice and Fire Series by George R. R. Martin, Enchantment by Orson Scott Card…  The list goes on and on, including other books I intend to read and mingling with my husband’s collection, many of which I would not part with either.

In classic literature, I like pretty books, the types with the gilded pages and elegant covers.  I’ve got a beautiful collection of Shakespeare and another of Grimm’s Fairy Tales.  I have nice but not so pretty versions of War and Peace by Leo Tolstoy, Tennyson, all Jane Austin’s novels, and so on.

Lessons:
  • Laura loves fantasy, science fiction, romance, and classic literature.
  • Laura has too many books to sensibly name here.

Another thing to note in my collection is that I have far fewer books with Half Price Books stickers on them than I did five years ago.  Since dedicating myself seriously to writing for publication, I’ve become much more conscientious about purchasing books in such a way that supports the author.  Don’t get me wrong, I adore Half Price Books and developed a near addiction to them when I lived within walking distance.  The smell alone upon walking into one is wonderfully heady and fulfilling.  But I feel compelled to support my fellow authors even in the small ways I can, which for me, usually means purchasing their books at Barnes and Noble, Borders, or through Amazon.

Lessons:
  • Laura wishes to support her fellow authors.
  • Laura loves bookstores, from traditional brick and mortar to electronic to used bookstores.

Overall lesson:
  • Laura loves books.

So what about you?  What do your bookshelves say about you?

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