Count on this: if you invite me to your home, I’m going to peruse your bookshelves.
(I’d like to think it’s not as creepy as stealthily checking out your medicine cabinet when you’re not looking. Your books are in your living room, after all.)
Despite my interest in personality profiles, I’m not trying to psychoanalyze you based on your books. But I am looking for common ground: I’m delighted to see a book I love on someone else’s shelves, or a book I’ve been wanting to read for ages, or–more and more often these days–a book written by a friend.
Sometimes I’ll spy a book I abhor, and depending on how well we’re getting along, I may even point out the book and tell you how much I hated it, and why. (Many delightfully nerdy conversations start this way.)
Sometimes I’ll notice that you have a particularly dense collection of my favorites, along with a handful of titles I’ve never heard of. Since we’re clearly kindred spirits, you better believe I’ll be quizzing you on the books I’ve never heard of and jotting down notes for my next trip to the bookstore or library.
If I feel like we’ve established enough common ground–and if I think you have primo literary taste–I may even ask your permission to snap a picture of your bookshelf to save myself the time of jotting down all the titles. Like this:
Confession: my own bookshelves are a wreck. I tend to pile my favorite books in my bedroom, where I do most of my reading, or force them upon friends, saying, you have got to read this. My bookshelves are constantly being jumbled and rearranged as I look for old books and cram in new ones.
But I will say the cookbook collection that graces my living room bookshelves is intact, and lovely to look at.
Do you check out other people’s bookshelves? Do you try to be sneaky about it, or not? Share your thoughts and personal stories in comments.