Monday, 28 January 2013

My bookshelf may actually define me

The other day I was strolling aimlessly along the streets, alleys and byways of the unfathomable internet when I came across a blog.  Gasp, how unusual.  Ok, perhaps not, but the post I found there did strike me as unusual.  It was a post about what your bookshelf says about you.  And that made me pause as I have always believed that a good poke around somebody's bookshelves can be highly instructive.

So, I stopped my aimless wandering about on the internet to read the post by Mayfair Mum.  As it turns out this post was part of a blog hop where several other bloggers also wrote about the content of their bookshelves and what it said about them. 

Over the past several days I have kept returning to this idea.  What do my books say about me?  Interestingly enough, I have come to the conclusion that they say a lot more about me than I had ever realized.

For a start I have been trying very hard to drastically limit the amount of books I accumulate.  I am not sure how long I will be living here in this house and if I'm perfectly honest in this country.  My life is all a bit vague in the plans area and I certainly feel the transience keenly.  So I have been limiting my book buying habits partly out of a sense of impermanence and the desire to not move them all about, and partly out of a sense of stubborn duty to hold myself to a strict book buying budget.

My Bookshelf with quite the ecclectic collection of titles
Minus the copy of Boccaccio's Decameron that I keep for flying (short stories are best for travel I think), these are all the books I have with me at the moment.  Not many at all, but still more than I'd like to move about.

If I didn't impose this budget and limit on myself I'd probably be drowning in books by now.  You see, I grew up in a household full of books.  My mother reads, and my father, well, he devours books.  He is constantly reading.  Reading was only interrupted by noisy children (I was one of them) and napping (he insisted he was checking for light leaks).  The rate of massive book consumption that ensued filled our house with over 2,000 books.  How do I know this?  Because my brother and I counted one summer.  A completely daft project only exceeded in silliness by his idea to alphabetize all our books.  The madness.  Anyhooo.

That was several years ago and by now I am not sure how many more there are.  Books never leave our family house.  We simply, buy, build and improvise more bookshelves for them.  So, I feel the absence of piles of books rather keenly and the small number I have at the moment points to my feelings of transience and my stubborn will to be logical and not overly indulge one of my pastimes. 

Ecclectic pile of books

On to the books themselves.  My reading habits seem to be thematic.  There are books about love, no, not romance novels, just books that fall into the chick lit genre.  Modern women dealing with issues of family, friends, career and of course the inevitable sub plot of romance.  Books like the Little Lady Agency by Hester Brown, and The Finishing Touches.

The Little Lady Agency by Hester Brown
Next on my list of must reads.
I suppose I am typical in this regard and like to read stories where the romantic issues all get sorted out nicely in the end and the couple you know belongs together ends up together.  Plus it is refreshing to read stories with strong female characters that live in a modern world that necessitates the holding down of jobs.

Then I also tend to read books that have a touch of history in them.  Sometimes they are full-blown historical fiction.  Sometimes they are only loosely based on a former time.  Sometimes, like the Glassblower of Murano by Marina Fiorato, they flick constantly between the Renaissance and modern times.

The Glassblower of Murano by Marina Fiorato
Excellent book, fascinatingly woven together.
I guess that just shows that I really do have an historian's soul.  I can't get enough of history, not even in my pleasure reading.

Moving Target by Elizabeth Lowell is the book that seems least related to my other reading choices.  It happens to be a bit about love and illuminated manuscripts, so it does fall into both my categories as well as being slightly suspenseful.

I read books that are aimed at young adults such as The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart.  Because there are days that I've had to think too hard about way too many adult things and I just want to sit back and revel in easy fun reads.  I read books that are serious and also true, like My Dancing White Horses by Alois Podhajsky.  It is his autobiography and the story of the Lipizzaner's and the Spanish Riding School in Vienna during WWII.

My Dancing White Horses by Alois Podhajsky

I do not have much in the way of fantasy on my shelf at the moment.  This may be due to the fact that I'm more selective about my fantasy books.  I don't like them simply because they are fantasy.  I do like dragons, but that does not excuse poor writing.  I like the idea of magic but I also like well developed characters. I'm just picky.  That's not to say that I don't enjoy them though.  Howl's Moving Castle is one of my favorite books.   

So, really I think my bookcases tells you where I am in life.  Despite my logical maneuverings to keep my book habit in check I still have a number of books hanging about.  I need them to escape.  And I escape by reading about strong women who get things together and find love and happy endings.  And I read about history.  Being a historian, I think everybody needs to escape the modern age every now and then.  

I suppose the real question is what does your bookcase say about you?  Join this interesting blog hop and let us know, or simply have a quick read of what some other people think their books say about them.


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