I recently read an article on BookRiot.com entitled “An Exercise in Interrogating My Bookshelves.” I decided to take a page out of the author’s book and do a thorough analysis of the books that currently reside on my bookshelves. Here’s what I found out:
I can’t create a color coordinated, digital image of my bookshelf, but I can create pretty tally marks with colored pens. Intrigued? Keep reading.
Basically, I’ve found out that I own 77 fiction books and 61 non-fiction books – a whopping 138 books in all! Other than that, not much else shocked me. I’ll expand on what I found out about both bookshelves.
Fiction Bookshelf—77 books
- Read: 46 sounds like a small number to me, but it actually means quite a lot. These are the books that I’ve read and kept in my heart. The last book that I read from my personal library was Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows. Although, now that I think about it, it’s probably time to re-read a few more of my old favorites.
- Intending to Read: These are the books that I bought at the B&N clearance sale that are waiting in a little pile next to my bookshelf. They’ll have to earn their place on the shelf, but I have high hopes for them. Unless something else catches my eye in the library, I’ll be steadily working my way through this stack.
- Half-Read: There are a handful of books that I only started to read and then had to put down for some reason. The most notable of these would be my storybook versions of the “Grimms’ Fairy Tales” and “One Thousand and One Nights.” You just don’t sit down and go through all of the tales found in these books in one night.
- Pretend that I’ve Read: Okay, okay, so there are a few “gift” books that I’ve never read. I won’t be talking about any of those. When I looked at my shelf, “The Guide to Harry Potter” jumped out at me. When I acquire a “Guide to” type book for a series that I love, I tend to treat them like Fiction books and shelve them accordingly. “The Guide to Harry Potter” is the only such book that I own and haven’t read…but I like to pretend that I know everything about Rowling’s books anyway.
- Saving for when I have more time to read: There are a few anthologies that I’ve been saving for a rainy day when I can sit down with a jumbo latte and allow myself to be immersed in multiple fictional worlds. I’m particularly fond of a recent acquisition of mine entitled, “The Book of Dragons.”
- I will never read: It was hard for me to look at my shelf and realize there are some books that I will probably never read. I remember I was in a bookstore with my husband (boyfriend at the time.) They didn’t really have anything I was interested in. I felt bad, because K had taken decided to go to this bookstore just for me. In order to avoid telling him the truth, I pretended to browse the shelves and then insisted on paying for my own “find.” Sorry, sweetie, but I’m never going to read that book.
- Only for show: I’m not really the kind of person who likes to have fancy books that I place on coffee tables. That being said, I count my storybooks as both “show” books and “save” books, because they are beautifully ornate. I definitely wouldn’t mind acquiring more of them and sitting them out for my fellow English nerds to gawk over.
- I can’t remember anything: There are six books on my shelf that I can’t remember anything about, but I would have told anyone who asked about them that they were among my favorites. Six! I’m truly ashamed of myself. It’s time to wipe the dust off those old novels and take another look at them.
- Regret that I Read: 0! I do not keep books that I don’t enjoy reading on my shelves. That would be completely counter productive. I’m going to get rid of those few “I’ll never read” books right now.
- *I’m going to add a last category just for fun. I wanted to count all of the books that I’ve read more than once. Here’s the tally: 36. 36 out of 46 isn’t bad. As I mentioned earlier, my most recent re-read was the Harry Potter series. If I have some time to re-read another one of my old favorites, I think I’d like to read “The Host” again. I’ve read it twice, but it’s been at least five years. For some reason, I keep telling people it’s my favorite book. I think that warrants a thorough reading every five years. Do you agree?
Non-Fiction Bookshelf—-61 books
- Read: I’ve only read 20 of the non-fiction books on my shelf. Or, I should say, I’ve only read 20 of them thoroughly. My non-fiction shelf is a mixture of devotional books, dictionaries, old textbooks, sign language books, and books on writing. I’ve gotten fond of perusing the non-fiction sections of bookstores and libraries as I’ve grown older. I’m more likely to buy a random non-fiction book that looks interesting, or at least educational, than a random novel that might disappoint me. The last non-fiction book I read was a writing book called, “The First Five Pages.”
- Intending to Read: Like I said, I’m more likely to put unfamiliar books on this shelf. These six books on my “to read” shelf are all devotions or writing books. I’m slowly and surely making my way through the writing books as I have time for them. “Hooked” is on the top of that pile.
- Half-Read: There are several old textbooks or writing books that I started to read, thought might be helpful, and decided to put them down until I needed them. I’m actually proud that I kept several old technical writing and bibliography books, because they’re proving useful at my internship.
- Pretend that I’ve Read: There are a couple of textbooks that I had to get for classes and decided that I never actually needed to read. However, I feel bad about the money my parents had to spend on them, and they look really impressive on my shelf, so…shhhh!
- Saving for when I have more time to Read: Chief among these are a small collection of Joyce Meyer books. I fell in love with Joyce Meyer’s writing after reading “Battlefield of the Mind” and “In Pursuit of Peace.” Someone was giving away her books for free. I found out that day that I cannot say no to anything written by Joyce Meyer. She is so inspirational. I plan to pull one of her books off the shelf as soon as I have time to sit down and actually think about what I’m reading.
- I will never read: Again, I’m referring to some of those old English textbooks. One sounds like it might be helpful in an editorial field, the other one is probably just boring nonsense. I should probably get rid of it…but I just can’t.
- Only for show: These mostly refer to my dictionaries. I have 9 🙂 . Impressive, right? You can come borrow them anytime. My favorites are a big 10lb desk oxford dictionary that my husband gave me as a gift while we were dating (he’s so romantic), a comprehensive sign language dictionary, and a dictionary of mythical creatures.
- I can’t remember anything: Huh, I would have expected to remember more of the fiction books that I’ve read and less non-fiction books. Still, I can understand why every word of “Longman’s Student Grammar of Spoken and Written English” might not have stuck in my head. It was useful at one time, and I’m sure it will be useful again. I’ll just have to reread it when the time comes.
- I regret reading: Again – 0! There is no place for books I don’t enjoy in my personal library. That includes textbooks. I would rather give away useless textbooks to someone who can use them rather than leave them sitting on a shelf gathering dust. I guess that means I do need to get rid of those textbooks I know I’ll never read.
- *Read more than once: The nine books that I reread have all been helpful in some way. They’re either devotionals that I’ve gone through multiple times or useful textbooks. I have a habit of rereading my favorite scenes from particular fiction books. In the same way, I like to go over truly inspirational or helpful passages when I find myself in need of their particular wisdom. I would say it’s more likely that I’ve reread non-fiction books piece by piece rather than cover to cover.
So what do y’all think? Do your bookshelves match your expectations, or did you find something that you weren’t expecting? I challenge you to go find out!
Here’s the link to that article on Book Riot: http://bookriot.com/2014/06/06/exercise-interrogating-bookshelves/