Thursday, February 26, 2009

Looking through bookshelves

Book shelf

When I visit someone’s house I always wind up looking at their bookshelves. I try to be unobtrusive about it but my eyes inevitably gravitate there. In part, I cannot help myself. Books are my addiction. In part, I’m honestly nosy. I learn so much about people from what they read.
I have some good friends whose bookshelves are nearly empty. I can tell you that their books are the same few that they’ve had for 20 years. On the other hand they have an amazing DVD collection and I generally like their taste in movies. Sometimes I wonder what I have in common with people who have such vacant bookshelves. But of course, who needs to have something in common with their friends? Besides 20 years of shared history. These people are like family in their way. They are good people and I need them in my life. So we don’t need books in common!
I was thinking about what my shelves reflect of me besides an obsession with printed matter. So I took a random picture of the most accessible shelf. Now I’ll tell you what is there and why. This might take two posts, by the way.

Book 1: Disgrace. I know someone who knows Coetzee and the book was on the $1 shelf at a used bookstore. I read it recently on vacation and the book bothered me. It is about the scandal of a professor who sleeps with a student. To me this is one of those taboos, almost like incest. It made me feel creepy by association. I also didn’t like the main character. The book made me think so much that I know it was good anyway.

DVD 1: Oliver. My son played a pickpocket in the school version of Oliver and I got the DVD for him. This isn’t the musical version I remember seeing as a kid which gave me nightmares. I was very scared by the scene of Bill Sykes hanging. I still hum some of the tunes, though.

DVD 2: Nutcracker 2006. The first year my son performed in it. I wasn’t in that year’s version.

Book 2: Windows on the World. Actually in French despite the title. I planned on reading it but haven’t gotten to it due to laziness. It takes more work for me to read in French so I need to feel energized. It is about the last day of the twin towers.

Book 3: I’m not mad, etc. Parenting book. I heard Roni Cohen-Sandler talk a few years ago and thought she was quite interesting. I don’t have daughters and haven’t read it even though it has utility for my work. I bought it used. It is definitely on my TBR list.

Book 4: The Family Tree. Picked up used. I haven’t read it but I’ve liked some of Tepper’s novels. Sci-fi/Fantasy genre.

Book 5: How to Stay Alive in the Woods. Survival classic. I’m using as a reference for my first novel about the kid who runs away and lives in the woods. I’m pretty sure I read bits of this book as a kid when I had my own running away fantasies. Bought used.

Book 6: Junior Classics. Old book I rescued from my in-laws’ place. I haven’t read it although I went through a phase in my school days when I read every fairy tale I could get my hands on, including the not-prettied up Grimm tales and so forth. I’m in love with vintage children’s books.

More tomorrow.


Jud said...

I find myself doing the same thing, looking to see which volumes have and which look like they haven't been read - there are many in each category on my shelves.

I really liked the I'm not mad...I just hate you" - reminds me of my mother and my sister.

I have many friends who just don't read. It kind of boggles my mind - I can't imagine a life without books. But these are interesting, mature, smart folks that just don't read.

Kathe said...

If you do ever come up for a visit, remind me to clean up my bookshelves.

Or cover them up.

Crafty Green Poet said...

I definitely do the same...

Marie Reed said...

This is a wonderful idea for a post! I feel so at home:) Tomorrow is Postcard Friendship Friday too:)

A Free Man said...

I do the same thing!

That Krakauer book was surprisingly good.

formerly fun said...

I always nose around people's bookshelves.It certainly can tell you a lot. When I met my husband the one thing that bothered me is that he'd never learned to read for pleasure. His book shelf included thick tomes of computer programming. I figured I'd never picked up one of those so fairs fair. He still doesn't read much but I have turned him on to some books he's enjoyed like World War Z and Cecil Adams Straight Dope and a few pop-science books.