Shelves as the Windows to the Soul?

From “Shelf Conscious,” by Francesca Mari at The Paris Review, not so much a review as a broad overview/appreciation/personal musing over Unpacking My Library: Writers and Their Books by Leah Price, via The Morning News:

My boyfriend was ruthless. He chucked a book if he thought it’d be easy enough to get again for a dollar. ….

I’ve always felt an obligation to keep any book with which I’ve had some sort of relationship, even if it was an insignificant one–an assignment for a short review, for instance.

My husband is a hoarder. I’m a purger, perhaps because I’m a binger with a well-developed sense of buyers’ remorse. We’ve reached a sort of equipoise where I can get rid of some books, and I’ll store others instead of getting rid of them. Thus far, we have enough room to do this.

I simply CANNOT imagine not having organized shelves. Bizarre. That being said, organizing books is crazy and involves weird personal decisions, such as: most of my graphic novels are organized by title (e.g., Sandman by Gaiman is under S), except when they’re organized by author (anything by James Kochalka is under K). Other books are in 2 main groups by size: MMPB get their own shelves as I have bookcases well suited for their short selves. And then TPB and HCs get bigger shelves, but both groups are separated into read/unread.

What I believe my shelves say about me: I believe in organization, and succeed to some degree at a macro level but fail at a micro level, then just start stacking books here and there. Which is pretty much how I manage life.

3 Responses to “Shelves as the Windows to the Soul?”

  1. Steph Says:

    I used to have organized shelves (idiosyncratically organized, largely based on genre), but then my personal library exploded in size and I had to simply content myself to stacking books anywhere there was room. I have a good memory so I generally remember where a book was placed, but I dream of the day when I have sufficient shelving to properly house my books.

  2. MFS Says:

    When I saw the similar entry on this book over at Brain Pickings (December 19), I smugly thought, “My own shelves are every bit as droolworthy.” Heh, heh, heh. Ah, the gentle madness, eh?

    Brain Pickings entry on Unpacking My Library:

    My entry on the same:

  3. girldetective Says:

    I’m not sure if It’s a compliment, MFS, but I definitely thought of you and your shelves when I read the article!