Did you even know that even doing so was “a thing”?
Confession : I’m as guilty as hell. And I don’t go about it sneakily either. Bookshelves are less intrusive than poking around in someone’s kitchen pantry after all.
When I look at the books lined up on the shelf I’m not being judgemental. It’s more like I’m looking for a familiar friend or even a book I’ve been unsuccessfully searching for at charity stores or at retail outlets specialising in secondhand books. Like “White Coolies” by Betty Jeffrey, published in 1954, and on which the movie Paradise Road was based. ( I’ve located a copy but refuse to pay in the hundreds for it. Yes, so I have a tendency to be frugal.)
Stickybeaking through other people’s shelves has proved a great conversation starter and sometimes I’ve even borrowed books that have been spotted. It’s okay: I have a reputation of having NEVER lost a book and ALWAYS returning them to their owner. My daughter did return my personal copy of Kokoda to the local Library which to this day has never been found but that doesn’t count, does it ?
I like this comment from The Guardian in 2012:
“Only a bookshelf can truly hold a reader’s history and future at the same time, while the present is usually found in a book bag or on a nightstand nearby. 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. They reflect much more than just the book-buying habits of their owner. Titles are easy to acquire and even easier to sell off or leave behind, so if it’s worthy of your shelf space, I want to know why.”
But, hey, I repeat: I’m not judging…..
Since the Pandemic the number of experts providing all manner of insights has grown exponentially. Have you noticed there is usually a bookshelf in the background when they are speaking? I’m spending a great deal of effort squinting at the television to ascertain the book titles. Aren’t you?
A Twitter account, Bookcase Credibility, recently emerged to keep an eye on this trend. It’s tagline – terminology that I’m grasping with – is “ What you say is not as important as the bookcase behind you”.
This weeks exercise is to analyse the bookcase below. Not mine. Responses in the Comments section please.