If you didn’t know me, you could tell a lot about me by looking at the bookshelf in my room. I read lots of books, averaging one every 10 days or so, and many of the ones I’ve read aren’t on my bookshelf. This particular bookshelf is a space for books that I want to keep and books that have childhood memories attached to them.
Looking at my bookshelf, you’d be able to tell that I grew up in the Harry Potter generation. Much of my childhood and early teen years were spent eagerly awaiting the publication of the next installment in the series. My copies of those seven great books have been much-read and are showing signs of wear, with some covers a little creased.
I am sure that Harry Potter will be one of the classics of our time, to be read and re-read in decades to come. I was excited to introduce my nine-year-old niece to the series by sending her a copy of the first book for her birthday last month.
You would also be able to tell that I enjoy classic English literature — the top shelf is lined with copies of Jane Austen’s six novels in various editions, some of her juvenilia and uncompleted writings, as well as factual books and biographies about Austen’s life and times.
I grew up reading Jane Austen’s novels and I think one of the things that sparked my interest was the wonderful 1995 TV series of Pride and Prejudice, with Jennifer Ehle as Lizzie and Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy. I watched that over and over on a VHS copy from the library — remember the days before DVDs?
As well as enjoying classics like Jane Austen, Louisa M. Alcott and the Brontë sisters, I was horse-crazy when I was younger, and I’ve kept my treasured pony books. I was fortunate to have a pony, Blue, when I was 10 and then a bigger horse, Folly, when I was 13. The “Jill” books are precious to me — published in the 1930s, they are quaint stories of a time gone by.
We’re nearing the bottom of the shelf now, which is reserved for academic books. You’d be able to tell that the owner of this shelf has a keen interest in language and linguistics, with titles about sociolinguistics (language in society), child language development, Spanish verbs and grammar, and academic research.
What does your bookshelf say about you? If someone looked at the books on your shelf, what insights into your personality would they gain?