What do your bookshelves say about you ?

A meme borrowed from A Box of Books.

I’m a Virago Geek

One bookcase. Five shelves. All double banked, full and over-flowing. Around 360 wonderful green  books. What can I say? I fell in love young and that love has never died. I do question some of the recent book choices, but that’s a question to consider on another day.

I tend to shop by imprint these days

The VMCs are the largest grouping. Then there are the lovely dove grey Persephone Books. Slim volumes from the Hesperus Press. Gothic and Victorian gems from Valancourt Books. Honno Classics from Wales. The new Bloomsbury Group. Multi-coloured spines of NYRB Classics. Grey Ladies …. I’ve always loved a list, and it seems such a natural way to move from book to book, from author to author.

I’m a child of the 20th century

A large proportion of my books were written by the few generations before mine. Daphne Du Maurier, Somerset Maugham, Mary Wesley, Rumer Godden, Elizabeth Taylor, Evelyn Waugh, Margery Sharp, Muriel Spark, Barbara Pym, Angela Carter, Elizabeth Jane Howard …. And yes, mainly women writers. I never knew my mother’s mother and I am so curious about the world that she knew. And when I was twelve my mother told me that my grandmother had kept a record of all the books she read, and encouraged me to do the same. I progressed from notebooks to index cards to a database and finally to this blog. I still wonder which of my books might have been in my grandmother’s notebook.

I have criminal tendencies

It all started with Mrs Christie. And then there was Dorothy L Sayers. Ngaio Marsh. Michael Innes. Edmund Crispin. P D James. Sarah Caudwell. Louise Penny. Jacqueline Winspear. Louise Penny. And a few more. I think the love of logic and patterns that drew me first to mathematics and then to accountancy also drew me to crime and mystery. But I am squeamish – a book has to promise something very special for me to deal with gore or forensics.

I love to escape into the past

George Eliot, Jane Austen, Thomas Hardy, Charlotte, Anne and Emily, Mary Elizabeth Braddon …. so many old friends. Mr Dickens is there too. I have only come to love him recently. Mr Trollope has arrived latterly, to keep him company. A number of their less famous contemporaries have homes on my shelves too, courtesy largely of those specialist imprints. Historical novels occupy a fair bit of space too. I’ve always been an escapist reader,and past suits me very nicely.

I am not as organised as I might be

There are some logical groupings, but most of my shelves are fairly random. Books fitted in spaces that other vacated. Books that happened to arrive together. Books arranged because they look right together. I like the odd juxtapositions. Let’s pick a run of ten authors: Charles Dickens, Sarah Dunant, Dorothy Dunnett, Sarah Caudwell, Beatrice Colin, Sarah Bower, Jonathan Smith, Jude Morgan, Djuna Barnes, Susan Cooper. A strange mix of people, but I’m sure they would find something to talk about…

So tell me – what do your bookshelves say about you?

13 responses

  1. Your bookshelves sound absolutely wonderful and I would love pictures of them someday!!!

    I think mine would say that I’m very eclectic in my tastes!

    • One day when i’ve tidied up a bit there may well be pictures, Though a bookcase of solid green doesn’t really photograph too well!

    • I find that the more I read the more i discover that I want to read. I already have retirement projects in mind, but that’s probably the best part of twenty years ahead!

  2. I do like to know what other people have on their book shelves and your post and comments have reassured me on several grounds: 1. I’m not the only person who always seems to have more books than shelves for them ; 2.Someone has more Virago’s than me, and 3.I’m not alone in having only just begun to read Anthony Trollope rather than Joanna (but I am trying to make up for lost time as I hadn’t realised how much I would enjoy his work!)

    • I haven’t started Trollope yet, but The Warden is lined up ready for when I finish The Old Curiosity Shop. I like to think I’m appreciating the classics coming to them a little later.

  3. “I still wonder which of my books might have been in my grandmother’s notebook.”

    What a lovely thought: generations joined by reading (b)logs!

    I mean, obviously countless readers have enjoyed the same books that we, as co-Virago-geeks are reading and ‘discovering’ but, with your comment, your grandmother’s notebook is almost tangible; I would like to know what reads the two of you “shared” as well!

    • The notebook disappeared a long time ago and my mother’s memory is failing, but she does remember her mother reading Marghanita Laski. Sometimes though I think it’s better not to know too much, and to be able to speculate instead.

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