Wednesday, July 20, 2016

What Do Your Bookshelves Say About You?

Photo of where we camped last week.
Last week I was up in Manitoulin Island area working at a children's day camp on a First Nation's reserve. The week was wonderful, and when we weren't running camp we had the opportunity to explore the reserve, which was beautiful. One afternoon we went into the second hand store of the reserve and of course I looked at the books.

If you've read SOI for awhile, you'll know that I'm in love with used books. Practically, I love them because they're cheap, but on a more romantic level, I love reading a book that has a history to it. Someone else has owned the book, maybe someone gave it to them, maybe they read it on a  vacation, who knows! I especially love it when some of that story peeks through. Maybe it's an inscription or some underlining, but whatever trace of the previous owner, that's left in the book, creates that history that I find so interesting and meaningful.

As I stood in the slightly smelly thrift store looking at the donated books, I wondered what histories the books held. As I thumbed through the old books, I thought about what the books said about the community as a whole. The books that you have on your bookshelf speak to what you value. The books that you get rid of also speak to growth and change that you've experienced. Maybe you enjoyed a novel as a child and have grown up, maybe your children have grown and you no longer need the parenting book, maybe you've worked through the book on grief, maybe you've given up on healing, or maybe you just don't have room for books that didn't amaze you; there's so many reasons why a book might end up being donated. Looking at the books that the thrift store had gave me such a unique insight into what that reading community on that reserve valued and perhaps had already overcome.

I carried this thought home with me, and as I write this blog post, I look over at my bookshelves and wonder what they say about me.

What do my books about writing say about me?
What do my books about prayer say about me?
What do my Harry Potter books on the top shelf say about me?
What do my Medieval Studies books say about me?
What do my YA books say about me?
What do my "vintage" books say about me?
What do my mint condition (read: unread) classic books say about me?
What do my Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books say about me?
What do my bookshelves say about me?

What do your bookshelves say about you? 

Reading: This is Where You Belong: The Art and Science of Loving Where You Live by Melody Warnick
Listening: Michael Buble
Watching: Casey Neistat vlogs


  1. This is so interesting! It's weird because I was just thinking about the same thing. I went to the thrift store here and maybe got carried away and bought like 30 books (they were like a dollar or two each! I couldn't refuse!) and couldn't help but wonder why people had donated those specific books. Why were there three copies of Eat, Pray Love and no Harry Potters? Dud those hardcovers on the bottom shelf with the matching covers belong to the same person? Who had bent this cover here? It's certainly an interesting concept.

    I think my bookshelf shows my growth as a reader. You've got all my Fairy Realm books on the bottom shelf, all the sci-fi/fantasy MG/YA stuff with the worn spines then the newer releases of urban fantasy and contemporary and classics and non-fiction and dystopian. I still read a lot of the same books, but you can definitely point out which books are newer and which ones have been on the shelf for a long time. I've branched out quite a bit as a reader, which is nice I think. I can't be stuck in fantasy forever.

    1. Wow! Nice shopping trip!

      I find the thrift stores around where I live ALWAYS have copies of The Kite Runner and The Shack; I don't know why. What DOES it say about my region? Glad that you found the post thought provoking:)

      As for branching out, good for you! I hope you find many new favourites.

  2. Ooh, I really like this. I prefer new books when I can get them, but I also own a lot of used books and have no problem with buying them if they're available and not too dirty. It is really interesting to wonder what they stories they tell about their previous owners, and what the owner giving them up means.

    Probably, looking at my bookshelves, people would assume that either I don't read much or that I'm waaaaaay too careful with my books when I do read them. They would also notice that I simultaneously like popular classics and popular-to-hate YAs (like Twilight). *shrugs*

    1. Thanks! It's always good to make sure that used books aren't too dirty:)

      You do you! If you enjoy popular classics and popular "to-hates," than you should enjoy them thoroughly on your bookshelf!

  3. I've been thinking about writing a post about this, actually! My bookshelf actually shows that reading isn't the most important thing to me, in a way. When I was around thirteen, my birthday and Christmas gifts stopped being mostly books and started being tickets to musicals, so a lot of my shelves haven't been updated to reflect my newer book interests because I'd rather see a show than buy the books. *nods* I totally think that it's an interesting thing to think about, though, I totally agree.

    1. I'd love to see your take on this topic:) I think there comes a point in everyone's life when they have to decide what they're going to spend their money on, and that's a part of growing up.

      Thanks for commenting!

  4. Ohhh, this is SUCH a good question, tbh. And I think if someone looked at my bookshelf they'd probably decide that I'm a reader of just about anything.😂 But just the idea of analysing a person from their bookshelf is AWESOME. (Although I confess I prefer new books...because I'm terrible at sharing and the idea that a book is fresh and mine and only mine really pleases me. I know! I'm terrible!) XD

    1. I'm glad that you found this topic interesting! Be sure to add this to your list of social skills, haha.

      To each their own, you like new books, I like old books. It's all good. We're still friends:)

  5. I think that my bookshelves say that I just own too many books xD

    Little Moon Elephant

  6. These are some really interesting thoughts. I think my bookshelf says that I really love sci-fi and fantasy. XD I mostly have those two genres on my shelves haha.

    1. I love sci-fi and fantasy too! Your bookshelf should definetly reflect your interests:)

      Thanks for stopping by!

  7. My bookshelf is full of used books as well! Granted, mostly because I can't afford to buy so many new books, but used books are great! My shelf is also color coordinated; I like things to look pretty :). And they'll probably tell you that I read all kinds of genres. Great post, and good question!

    Ally @ The Scribbling Sprite

  8. This is a good question. Since I love murder mysteries though, perhaps that says something not so good about me? :)

  9. I used to read more kids books but now I read YA because I'm a teenager.

    I feel like a snob for saying this but I'm scared of getting new books because I feel that they might be dirty. I know, that's bad but still. Library books have caused me to feel that way though I still read library books because of my lack of books.


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