My Inner Shelf

Lyrical Meanderings and Earful of Cider, inspired by this article, decided to post a picture of a random book shelf in their home, to see what it might say about them. I admit, I was envious of their order, their diversity, the sheer number of books they’ve read. It got me thinking about what my shelves say about me. So this morning I went upstairs and took a few pictures of the one bookshelf in our bedroom.

Can you say cluttered? A lot of these books I’ve never read, nor do I plan to read. My beloved bought me Les Miserables because it’s one of his favorite stories. He got it for me years ago and there it sits, reminding me of what a loser I am. The Girl who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest? Sorry, never going to read it. It was hard enough getting through The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo. Things I Want my Daughters to Know? A gift from someone who clearly doesn’t know me very well. The investment and business plan handbooks don’t belong to me, nor do the Michael Connolly works or the volumes on Frank Lloyd Wright.

I’d say the biggest thing these shelves say about me is how absent I am in them. I can count on one hand the books that matter.

This, of course, made me a little sad. After all, what kind of owner goes missing? So I thought about what I could add. There, do you see it, down on the right?

If you can’t tell, dust and me are tight.

Actually, my real shelf is right next to my bed. I thought of cleaning it up a bit before shooting it (notice my bite plate?) but if I can’t be true with my peeps, then who can I be true with?*

I found The Lacuna in the discard section of our library and, remembering how much Teri loved it, snatched it right up. One day I’ll get to it. I like seeing it peeking out at me, reminding me of what’s in store. Carol Shields’ Larry’s Party is still there. I’ll get back to it one day, right after I finish the awesome Magnum by Russell Miller. If I can’t be on the front lines in photography, at least I can read about others that were.

Right after I took this picture, I brought my kayak picture downstairs and put it up on the wall. This might surprise you but it’s the first picture of mine I have up. I’ve passed by it a few times today and I can’t begin to tell you how much happiness it brought.

Who knew that looking at a shelf of books could bring me closer to myself? Thank you, Lyra and Sarah. You really made my day.

*There was one teeny tiny thing I took out of the picture but only because it deserves its own post one day. Shhh. Between you and me, I’m thinking Averil’s place might be a better venue for that.


Filed under Happiness, Me, Photography, Uncategorized, writers

20 responses to “My Inner Shelf

  1. I love all these visits into the bookish parts of our lives. We have a very similar bookshelf in our room. Up until recently, when Doug had finally had enough, it was a mishmash of home repair, Calculus and other assorted math text books, large photography books, pulp paperbacks, nonfiction, etc. Now all of those things have been reassigned to piles, shelves and stacks and the bookshelf is all math all the time.


  2. I love your Real Shelf, MSB! And I love that photograph, too—almost as much as my Death of Patience print, which I can see from here, telling me it’s all okay.

    Plus: a bite plate and an Averil item? You live a life of which I can only dream . . .

  3. I’m so glad you hung up that kayak picture. I read The Lacuna over Christmas – very good but mine had a different cover. I love comparing book covers.

    I want to know what’s underneath Larry’s Party.

  4. I spy a library book (?) under Larry’s Party — maybe something you read to your kids? Do tell. And I so appreciate the bite plate not being removed for the photo. My bedside table is about 15″ round and holds absolutely NOTHING but a lamp, a glass of water, 2 earplugs, and maybe — if I squeeze it in — a small book. There’s no room. What the hell was I thinking when I bought these tables?!?!?! The book I’m reading in bed ends up on the floor. How sad is that.

    And no book, I mean NO BOOK, should ever look you in the eye and make you think you’re a loser. That’s bullshit. If that’s the case, we’re all a bunch of losers, every last one of us, because who can read every great book there is? I, for one, should be reading Dostoyevsky and Tolstoy, but shit. Come on. So many hours in the day and all that….

    My first French teacher, on our first day of class, said, “I learned to speak this language because I wanted to be able to read LES MISERABLES in French.” This, while all of us looked around the room wondering what we’d gotten ourselves into. For the next 2 hours, she spoke no English and said “Bon!” every time she moved to a new subject —- we newbies all kept raising our eyebrows at each other, wondering what in the hell “bone” was and how could we stop doing it.

  5. Oh, do come to my place and give us the skinny on the missing item. I’m agog with curiosity.

    Your place is the right place to confess my organizational scheme: my books are sorted by color. You see, I’m the only reader in my family (well, my kids are to a degree but they keep their books on their own shelves) and for me it’s easiest to remember the book cover and find it that way. So my green Bon Appetit cookbook is next to The Day of the Storm–a Rosamunde Pilcher novel, and Make a Scene (black) resides next to a book of Annie Liebovitz photography. It works for a visual person, and looks pretty in the living room.

    • I’ve seen a library like that once before (I’m thinking Sarah might have posted a picture somewhere) and I LOVED it. One day, when I grow up, maybe I’ll do the same.

      The kids are off this week so we’ll see how much time I have to gather my thoughts but, yes, I would be honored to come (absolutely no pun intended!) for a playdate.

  6. My shelves are very roughly arranged by category and author, with the exception of a pile of dust jackets I smartly removed from all the hardcover books I’ve loaned out (sadly I didn’t keep a list of borrowers and many have never been returned) and the entire two shelves of books I bought or borrowed but have never read. At last count, they numbered 48…

  7. You guys are killing me with your books. I had to let all mine go, parting is such sweet sorrow! Enjoy yours…

  8. MSB,
    I love that you keep your near and dear next to the bed. It was kismet when I saw The Lacuna there as I’m reading it right now (and loving it).
    And I have to say, it brought me such joy that you hung up that photo. If I had your pictures I’d display them around the house as in a gallery, surrounding myself with wonderful images.
    As it is, I think the kayak one is my favorite, and I’m so glad it now has a home.
    Next up, find some beautiful little bookshelf that is just yours. No business books. Even if it only has three books on it, a mom of four needs a place where her inspiration gathers.

  9. Yay, a bookshelf as messy as mine! (My post coming later this week.) And I too have a copy of The Lacuna on one of my shelves — all because our Teri recommended it so! I haven’t started it yet but will soon. Anyone else get a stress headache just thinking of all the wonderful books you still need to read? And not just all the books out there in the world, but the ones right at home on our own shelves. Gah.

  10. Now I’ve read about that teeny missing thing I’ve just had a quiet chuckle. Mine are over in my underwear drawer, and my bookshelves are such a mess I wouldn’t let a camera lens near them. The dust!!!

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