What Does Your Bookshelf Say About You?

Bedroom Bookshelf

Bedroom Bookshelf

Being a reader, a writer, and a librarian, I have a lot of bookshelves in my house. So many in fact, that you’d think I’d have plenty of room for the new book I’d recently purchased—it wasn’t even a thick book, only 249 pages. But no, when I attempted to squeeze it on the bookshelf in my room, it wouldn’t fit. Nor would it fit with the books on the top of my husband’s dresser. No room on the living room bookshelf either — and certainly not on the shelves downstairs, crowded three times deep.

As I dug through my books, wondering if there were any I could bear to get rid of, I pondered what would be gained, and what would be lost if we went to all ebooks. Obviously, on a virtual bookshelf I could have thousands of books and never run out of shelf space. But on the flip side, bookshelves instill character and personality in a room. If books aren’t a Feng Shui thing, they should be. All those stories, ideas and possibilities create good mojo—I’m sure of it.

IMG_6269When I go over to someone’s house, I love to look at two things — what they hang on their walls, and what is on their shelves. I don’t like to think I’m judgmental about bookshelves, but I probably am—just a little. Mostly if the person doesn’t have any books at all on the bookshelf. I mean really, that’s as sad as having an ice cream cone with no ice cream.

So take a look around you. What does your bookshelf (or bookshelves if you are like me) say about you?

IMG_6270Maybe it should be a new type of personality test. All Fiction on your shelf? You’re an F: a dreamer, an escape artist, and a traveler. You are empathetic and can often see multiple ways of looking at an issue.

All Non-Fiction on your shelf? You’re an NF: a realist, someone who believes in the here and now—as well as in the power of the past. You feel more comfortable with facts than with possibilities, and you believe the more you know, the better off you will be.

IMG_6266Does you bookshelf host a number of both fiction and non-fiction books, like mine? You’re an FNF. You don’t believe you can really dream, reach for the stars, or try new things until you know the facts about this life, this world we live in. You are a realistic dreamer or a dreamy realist. Start where you are and go from there.

Stay with me here, I’m just warming up.

IMG_6268How about Literary or Genre reading? An L type of bookshelf says the reader is well educated (or striving to be), likes to go beneath the surface of things. Often more reserved, this reader tends to observe and analyze things before jumping in. L readers appreciate the story and the language as a form of art. A G reader, on the other hand, likes to get what they want, and quickly. They tend to be action-oriented, and don’t believe in beating around the bush.

Office Area Bookshelf

Office Area Bookshelf

How am I doing so far? Look at those shelves. Do I know you yet?

Some people like their bookshelves arranged in a certain order. Organized—or O bookshelves—have some sort of orderly system. Books are arranged by size, color, theme, genre, author. This person is efficient, organized, and likes to have things make sense. Being a librarian, I know all about this dewey decimal (or should I call it OCD?) mentality—but my shelves at home? Not so much.

Basement Bookshelves (top shelf)

Basement Bookshelves (top shelf)

Random–or R people–accept that life can be random. Their bookshelves are a mishmash of titles, genres, sizes, knick-knacks, and treasures of all sorts. No particular order means searching for things, but the R person believes life is all about the journey.

Sparse bookshelves speak of a thoughtful person who believes the value of something lies in the quality of that item, person, or experience—not in the quantity. For S people, less is more—if that less has meaning. They easily let go of that which does not serve them (to use my yoga teacher’s words—and yes, I hear those words a lot. Maybe eventually they will even sink in.)

Basement Bookshelves (middle shelves)

Basement Bookshelves (middle shelves)

Cluttered bookshelves on the other hand, speak of an energetic person with multiple interests and curiosity. An idea person, this bookshelf displays a multitude of attempts, successes, and failures. Oddly enough, even though to an outsider there does not appear to be any sort of systematic arrangement of the books and other things on the shelf, C people will often notice if something is moved. (Not that I go moving things on someone else’s bookshelves… at least, not often.)

Basement Bookshelves (bottom shelves)

Basement Bookshelves (bottom shelves)

Then there are the Trinkets versus the No Trinkets. The NTs are purists at heart. Like the O bookshelf people, they like things to make sense, to have a clear purpose, and to do that purpose well. T bookshelf people are those who like to mix knick-knacks or trinkets in among their books. They are typically good at multi-tasking, and tend to be big-picture people rather than detail orientated.

Living Room Bookshelf (I'm not allowed to overfill it)

Living Room Bookshelf (I’m not allowed to overfill it)

Does your bookshelf contain mostly new books? Or do you love that old book smell and feel—yes, they do have a particular smell and feel about them. No doubt because of the paper used. OBs are seeped in tradition and NBs actively seek out the next great thing, the next experience.

Paperback or Hard-cover? PB people are frugal. Often they read to be entertained, and therefore want the freedom to travel far and wide, to read whatever suits their fancy. HC book lovers are the loyal, committed sort. Certain authors are like members of the family, and HC people want that relationship to stand the test of time.

Living Room Bookshelf

Living Room Bookshelf

There are the Self-Help book people (SH = independent, over-analyzers), the How-To manual sorts (HT = Detail people who like to follow the rules), the Memoir/Biography/Autobiography collectors (MBA = a people person, this individual is fascinated with how others live), the Inspirational book readers (I = those looking to deepen their spiritual experience), and the TextBook people (face it, TB people are either students who paid way too much for their books and consequently don’t want to sell it back for a fourth of the cost, or teachers who are never sure where or what they will be teaching).


And finally, any good bookshelf analysis would be incomplete without mentioning the people who collect (and even sometimes read!) Poetry books. P people are deep—or want to be anyway. They are always looking for the essence of things, of life. Emotional—though they may not show it—these are your dreamers, your artists, your never-take-anything-at-face-value sorts.

Living Room Shelves

Living Room Shelves

So what do my bookshelves say about me? That I’m a FNF, L, G, O, R, C, T, NB, OB, P,B HC, SH, I, TB (only the Shakespeare book, I swear. It cost me half a year’s worth of meals.), and yes, a P.

Although, now that I think of it, it might just be easier to say I’m a reader and a writer.

Husband's bookshelf down in the man cave.

Husband’s bookshelf down in the man cave.

Summer Reading (from 1 of my libraries) -- kept in a bag because there is no room on the bookshelves.

Summer Reading (from 1 of my libraries) — kept in a bag because there is no room on the bookshelves.


What are you reading to reduce your stress?

Go for the alternate universe once in awhile

Yeah! Finally about to log in to my wordpress site. It was down since last weekend–hence the no post for two weeks. I’d love to say I’ve been writing like crazy in the interim, but that wouldn’t be quite true. (Too bad good intentions don’t count.) I have written some–but then life imploded and yeah, well, haven’t been writing so much. So here is what I intended to post last weekend. Still totally applies. In fact, I’ve been re-reading the first book in the series–but I’m getting ahead of myself. Here’s the post from last week. Maybe then it will make sense.

Yesterday I read a book for most of the day. Not a horrible thing to do. Didn’t hurt anyone.

Life always coming right behind you

Wasn’t bad for my health, nothing like eating the 2 bags of on-sale-after-Easter candy that I have hidden away from husband and kids. Still, I had a lot to do. A LOT TO DO. (When you type it with all capitals it means it is really, truly true.) Laundry. A novel that was (and still is) crying piteously for attention. A week’s worth of cat hair and … other unidentified crud to be vacuumed up. Top that with meals, grocery shopping, bills, and visiting my Mum–and all of a sudden reading sounds like a really stupid idea. (I could type it in all capitals but then you might think I’m exaggerating. And quite frankly, I’m not sure my self-esteem could handle being thought STUPID.)

Except it isn’t stupid. Sometimes when life is going so fast it makes your head spin, that’s when you should take a time out. And that’s exactly what reading is–a vacation from your life. A chance to not be for a little while, and still come back.

Reading takes us places

I didn’t always used to be so understanding of my passion (my husband would say it should read habit or addiction instead). Just when I would be feeling completely overwhelmed, I’d find myself reading–and often reading something I’d already read! Nothing like going from being overwhelmed to being even further behind and mad at myself (There was usually guilt in there too–I’m a Christian after all. I think it’s a requirement.) But it still wouldn’t stop me from reading the next time. (OMG–it really is an addiction!) I often wondered what was wrong with me.

Stress Relief

I found the answer to that (well, to the reading part of what’s wrong with me–let’s not get crazy here) when I was searching for the benefits of reading to share with teachers and students for March is Reading Month. There are lots of benefits to reading (at least 26 according to Brad Isaac), including improving vocabulary, memory, concentration and focus. But one of the most interesting things I learned was that reading reduces stress levels up to 68%–according to research from the University of Sussex. So while It is true that I get further behind by reading, afterwards I am better able to deal with whatever stuff needs dealing with.

Of course, now that I know reading reduces stress, I try to utilize it in a more productive manner. To deal with the death of a close friend this past week, I read an hour or so every night before bed. It helped me sleep a little better. Definitely worth trying the next time you are feeling overwhelmed and stressed out.

Necromancing the Stone

So what was it I was reading? (and re-reading) A FABULOUS book called Necromancing the Stone by Lish McBride. It is a sequel to Hold Me Closer, Necromancer. The characters are believable, the dialog very witty, it’s full of action (makes me laugh out loud–and cry, but that’s pretty normal for me), and most of all, it makes me see the world a little differently. Although it is fantasy, it explores the topic of friendship, family, and identity. Oh, and it stays with me. I re-read parts of it about 3 hours after I had finished it because I couldn’t get it out of my head. Still thinking about it. Sigh. I love good books. Here’s hoping my book(s) strikes people that way some day.