I’m the kind of girl who organizes her bookshelves according to content and theme, and then again by visual impact. I’ve hidden all my books on palmistry and the history of pagan ritual, for example, behind my more ‘interesting’ and widely respected books on Zen Meditation and other large imposing volumes about esoteric theology.
I’ve placed regency romances and dog-eared sci-fi books behind Camus and Sartre – which, although are equally well-loved, quickly get dashed out of the way when I’m feeling blue and need the reassurance of a happy ending.
My more ‘educated’ volumes on the history of art, design, and communication hide the strange smattering of fairy tales and mildew stained essays about expressionist yarn sculptures from the 1970s I’ve collected, even though the entire shelf has brought me inspiration in different ways. You get the picture.
My bookshelf is a front. To my credit, I’ve read all of my books, but I still construct a ‘first impression’ with their presentation. And I just lied. I haven’t read all of them. There are a few that I have pretended to read so often that I would feel naked without them sitting there on my shelf.
Last night during an evening chat with some of my favourite Tweeps a discussion about books sprang to life, and I felt giddy. Author’s names started spilling way over the 140 character limit. There were so many titles and authors I was itching to namedrop. So many I wanted to cram in there and make allowances for, simply because I’d read them, but I resisted the urge. Instead, I quickly jumped in saying I had so many favourite reads that I’d have to write a post about them.
Here we are.
I started to think in genres, then various other random categories. Titles piled up in my head faster than I could write them down but rather than list them all I found myself asking gritty questions– did I really like them? How much? How much was ‘how much’? Was I being just like my bookshelf and selectively showcasing the books I thought would impress? Would I actually dive into a fire to save these volumes.. and why? Was the physical issue of the book sentimental to me for some reason, was it the actual story that stayed with me, or was I just simply.. a snob?
So I’ve left my ego at the door here, and instead of trying to create an aura of how incredibly well-read I am, here’s a catalogue of my Top 5 favourite books in 5 of the most honest categories I could think of.
1. Books I haven’t read but pretend to:
- Grapes of Wrath
- Cather in the Rye
- The Feminine Mystique
- For Whom The Bell Tolls
- Tina Fey – Bossypants
2. Books I pretend I haven’t read but thoroughly enjoyed:
- Hollywood Wives
- All of Tori Spelling’s books
- LA Candy
- The Venerable Bede- The Ecclesiastical History of the English People
- Go Ask Alice
3. Books that I feel like I should have loved but actually didn’t:
- 100 Years of Solitude
- Lust for Life
- La Lenteur/ Slowness
- Treasure Island
- The Acid House
4. Books I have listened to on audio book but say that I’ve read in print:
- The 4-hour Work Week
- The Universe in a Single Atom
- The Power of Now
- Living a Life of Inner Peace
- Sherlock Holmes
5. Books that have profoundly inspired and motivated me, kept my hope afloat, or shown me I’m not alone regardless of genre or content: (AKA Books I lovingly smell the pages of when I read. Which is a little creepy. But that’s ok.)
- The Master and Margarita
- Bright Lights, Big City
- Fugitive Pieces
- Ezra Pound, Select Poems
- The Wonderful Story of Henry Sugar and 6 Others
Come on now, be honest. Do you hide behind your bookshelf? How do you arrange your books?…Who are your Top 5 ‘winners’? Let me know in the comments by Dec. 10, and I might just give you a Chapters gift certificate.