“A house without books is like a room without windows. No man has a right to bring up his children without surrounding them with books, if he has the means to buy them.” Horace Mann
I love to peruse the bookshelves of others. A bookshelf says much about someones character. Are you prepared to only show your Penguin classics with their orange spines or will you allow people to see your trashy novels along side your more highbrow reads?
On my bookshelf Jackie Collins sits next to James Baldwin. I have read both authors and enjoyed them both equally. I don’t care what type of fiction it is as long as it’s a good story. I am surprised by the arguments of authors trying to justify perceived genres. Jodi Picoult and Joanne Harris saying their books aren’t ‘chick lit’ and Jennifer Egan calling ‘chick lit’ derivative and banal. Picoult sounds defensive and Egan sounds elitist. Isn’t it just about telling a good story? *sigh* I have no idea, I just wish people in the writers would stop worrying about it and tell the story already.
However, I don’t want to get onto that soapbox, I want to talk about bookshelves. Once upon a time I was very organised in my bookshelves: Plays, poetry, self help, astrology, fiction, classics, non-fiction and so on, all in sections. Now they are all lumped together- higgeldy piggeldy. I don’t mind, although it does take longer to find a book but then I rediscover old favorites.
My parents book shelves were always open for their kids. I was precocious in my reading and my mother NEVER told me I couldn’t read something. She figured I could make those decisions for myself and she was right. I moved from Judy Blume to Radclyffe Hall then onto encyclopedias and dictionaries for fun with a dash of Jacqueline Susann mixed with Gabriel García Márquez and a heavy dose of Sidney Sheldon and Jeffrey Archer. All my mother or father would say to me about the book was whether it was a good story. I think Helter Skelter was the only book she drew a line at and she was right to take it from me when I tried to read it at twelve (borrowed from Molly, the racy girl at school). Manson gave me nightmares for years. True crime is different to fiction.
Now my bookshelves are open to my children. In my daughters room, I see copies of books by Lisa Jewell and Dorothy Parker on her bookshelf, both taken from my shelves. I’m glad she is reading and I’m happy she is open to everything. I think you have to be well rounded in your knowledge to be truly interesting. There is so much to learn and to discover. My little boy takes the bird watching books and the books on music and football. Bless.
*Warning- Advice Ahead*
Don’t read yourself into a corner, you will miss out on so many wonderful stories if you are conceited about the stories and their genesis.
And now for something special – Bookshelf Porn for those who like to see bookshelves in all their glory. Sexy.
I’m off to read something.