What does your bookshelf tell people about you? A lot, according to Nikki Tranter, at her blog, Re: Print, part of PopMatters galaxy of blogs. Nikki in turn links to an article published in The Age, one of Australia's leading newspapers, by Kate Holden. Holden has deliberately reorganized her library to impress. Holden writes:
I want visitors to think I am smart. Or indeed, to prove that I am smart. Tasteful. Erudite and eclectic. All this manifested in the concrete evidence of the books I’ve read: the range of subjects; the impressive editions, the glorious colourful bindings. I had a moment of enthusiasm a few months ago when I was procrastinating from writing a, well, a newspaper column, and collected all my orange Penguins into a beautiful if ochreous slab of mid-20th century cleverness. It was not unknown, I went on to mutter, that I had deliberately placed certain books in more visible cases — or even on eye-level shelves — in order to best array the quality of my collection.Nikki, on the other hand, says she organizes her bookshelf mostly for herself, to prove that's she not only has exceptional taste but is smart.
The more I pondered, the more I realized that while there’s an element of the show-off in my arrangements, such conceit is really just for me. The smart books are at eye-level in the center of the living room to remind me what I’ve read, and what I’ve learned. Does it make me look smart to visitors? Possibly, but, to be honest, I find most visitors are more into my partner’s DVD collection than my books. He’s the coolest guy in the world because of his Fly special edition and his Star Wars prints; I’m hardly Mrs Awesome because I’ve dog-earned the works of David M. Rorvik.I have one room allotted to me in my parent's house as my library-- shelves after shelves filled with books of a rather eclectic variety. Most of it is unread, of course, since I buy more books than I have time to read them.
Nevertheless, I never given thought to organizing them in any meaningful way: history lumped with literature, economics with art, etc. I always promised myself that I would organize them, but, alas, don't have the time or the inclination to do so (I'm very lazy). And like Nikki, I never thought people would judge me through my book collection, I just did it for myself.