Can you judge someone by the books on their shelves?
If I’m in someone’s house for the first time I can’t help but look at their book collection. My husband used to do it with records. It’s not so easy nowadays, although I have watched him, head down, studying a friend’s Ipod the only sound being a series of satisfied yes, yes, yeses, interrupted by the occasional ‘Really?” (This would be a mutual exchange of course – the friend making the same dark mutterings). But I’ve never done a Kindle swop, have you?
Anyway, if you’re a reader then there have to be books in your home. In piles, on shelves, in a bespoke library, whatever…
I’ll be honest and say the first thing I asses is the quantity. Back in the 90s it was said that a middle class home wasn’t defined by the car you drove, the area you lived in or your bank balance. It was how many books you had on your shelves. 30+ and you were middle class…
Putting the spurious class distinction aside, it seems to me that if you’re a reader, a real reader, then you have to have 150+ or ok, a very well used ereader.
Then the quality. I like friends with eclectic minds rather than narrow obsessions: political philosophy should rub shoulders with crime fiction, and poetry can live happily next to guides on bonsai-growing.
Do you judge someone by the books they own?
How about this list (taken by me from a list of nearly 500)
Why I Am Not A Christian, by Bertrand Russell
Poems Of W.B. Yeats
Sons And Lovers by DH Lawrence
Out Of My Later Years by Albert Einstein
The House Of The Dead, by Fyodor Dostoevsk
Bound For Glory by Woody Guthrie
Democracy In America by Alexis De Tocqueville
A Book About Bees by Edwin Way Teale
Nana by Emile Zola
Memories Of A Catholic Girlhood, by Mary McCarthy
Madame Bovary by Gustave Flaubert
Five books by or about Sigmund Freud
Ulysses by James Joyce
Flower Arranging For Fun by Hazel Peckinpaugh Dunlop
What you reckon about the owner? A person you’d like to meet? Someone you could talk to and maybe be friends with?
They all belonged to Marilyn Munro and you can read the full list HERE.
The research is the work of novelist Tania Hanks and apparently Marilyn was reading The Rights Of Man by Thomas Paine during the filming of Some Like It Hot. (Bet Tony Curtis wasn’t.)
Maybe you can only really know someone if you the know the books they are reading….