Fuse #8

Thursday, September 21, 2006

I See You Keep All Your Dostoyevsky On the Top Shelf

So said at a New Year's party we held where I walked around with a video camera catching snatches of conversation. Turn a corner and there's my 6'5" friend who is completely impossible to hear except that he keeps saying the words "vintage stores" over and over. Turn another corner and you suddenly hear Dan saying, "No, see, the reason they're taking over Air Force One is..." And then the Dostoyevsky comment.

I liked the comment because it connects to this recent article in the Chronicle of Education about what your bookshelf says about you.
What interests me about other people's books is the nature of their collection. A personal library is an X-ray of the owner's soul. It offers keys to a particular temperament, an intellectual disposition, a way of being in the world. Even how the books are arranged on the shelves deserves notice, even reflection. There is probably no such thing as complete chaos in such arrangements.
In my own home I've an entire bookshelf full of children's titles in my kitchen facing the stove. Anyone want to take a gander on what that particular literary Rorschach test says about me?


At 2:43 AM , Blogger Saints and Spinners said...

If you go into the living room of a certain librarian in Seattle, you will see that the books appear to be alphabetized by author... to a certain point. After that certain point, they become higglety-pigglety, and the books are shoved in so that they're not edged anymore. My toddler loves books almost as much as I do, but she certainly needs to learn a thing or two about order...

At 9:13 AM , Blogger Kelly said...

Ummm...You have a small NYC apartment and have to use the kichen for storage?

And, you don't cook:)

At 10:17 AM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

When I was in library school a friend of mine had a new boyfriend. One day she went home and he had totally rearranged her books BY SIZE! I told her to dump him, they would never understand each other.

At 12:00 PM , Blogger Dan McCoy said...

...Jurgen Prochnow.

Anyway, remember that, while the arrangement is probably thought out, it doesn't necessarily say anything significant. For instance, if you look at my bookshelf, you will note that all my heaviest books are on the bottom. What does this mean?

A: it means I live in a brownstone with characteristically uneven floors. Afraid that my bookshelf might fall over, I decided to weight it down.

At 12:55 PM , Blogger fusenumber8 said...

Well exactly. Actually, my apartment is pretty large, all things considered. The kitchen just happened to have room for a bookshelf, so that's where the kiddie books ended up. It's right next to the office anyway, so it works out.

At 8:41 PM , Anonymous Anonymous said...

Easier to shove the witch into the oven that way.

My youngest daughter once started to arrange all of our books by color, then quit -- too many browns. We've never recovered.

At 12:07 AM , Blogger fusenumber8 said...

Sorry, mom. I'd rearrange them myself if I could but I'm all distant n' stuff. It's small comfort but some people swear by the color cataloging system. Kraaaaaazy people.


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