Have you ever looked at your bookshelves—like, really looked? A bookshelf can tell you a lot about a person. You can tell if a person is organized or unorganized; the latest books that were read by the dust print when they were moved; what type of person they are by the book types on the shelves; and if they’re able to control their book buying habits by how full their shelves are and how many shelves they have. Are their shelves neatly arrange with one row of books, and even some room for decor? Or are their shelves two rows deep with books stacked on top of that, and now that you’re looking around is there any surface in the room that doesn’t have a pile of books on it?
So what does your bookshelf say about you? Take a good look at your bookshelves, and while you’re at it, see if you recognize some of the common book types people have on their shelves:
- Books that Make You Look Smart: This is that copy of Atlas Shrugged sitting on your bookshelf. You know it’s supposed to be a thought-provoking, life-altering novel, but have you seen how tiny the font is? And it’s like 500 pages for just one speech? But doesn’t it look fabulous sitting in your office?
- Books You Wouldn’t Be Caught Dead Reading in Public: These are those guilty pleasure reads like Twilight, or 50 Shades of Grey. You know there are better books out there, but for some reason, you can’t help yourself.
- Books You Felt Obligated to Own: Oftentimes, these books take the form of the classics, but not always. Maybe you bought them because you’re not confident in your reading habits and think that all “real” readers have read these books even though the books don’t actually interest you. Maybe you were really interested in reading them once, but then realized they weren’t for you and went back to your beloved romances. Whatever the reason, these books now sit with perfect spines collecting dust, and you just hope that no one ever asks you about how you liked them.
- Books You Bought because of Movies: These are the books you bought after seeing the movie because “books are always better than the movie.” You know this is true in your heart, and feel like you probably should read the book if you’ve seen the movie. However, the movie was really only “okay,” so you’ve never really felt like actually reading the book. But the thought makes you feel better about only seeing the movie.
- Mainstream, Secondhand Books: So you thought you’d give a secondhand bookstore a try, and had a hard time looking through the countless novels by mainstream authors like James Patterson, Dean Koontz, Stephen King, etc., to find the gems you know were hidden there somewhere. You didn’t want to leave empty-handed and recognized the authors, so you bought a couple. You might have even read a couple of the books too before realizing that they were essentially all the same.
- Books You Haven’t Read since High School: Maybe you really like the book, maybe you just know it’s supposed to be a classic. Whatever the case, long past your high-school years, you felt compelled to pick up a copy of To Kill a Mockingbird and bring it home with you. You might have pretended like you wanted to read it again someday, but in all honesty, you haven’t touched it since you brought it home.
- Books that Have Been Read So Many Times, the Covers Are Falling Apart: These are your favorite novels. The books that you couldn’t live without. You’ve read them so many times, you have them memorized, but turn their worn pages anyway for nostalgia’s sake.
- Books You Judged by their Covers: They looked interesting. You’ve never heard of them, and the back matter didn’t tell you much, but they were pretty, so you thought, why not?
- Books You’ve “Borrowed”: We know you have a “borrowed” book. I’m sure you’re still planning on returning it someday, but it’s already been like 10 years, so what will a couple more years hurt?
- Books You Started but Never Finished: Let’s face it, some books just don’t deserve to be finished. However, as an avid reader, you never were quite able to get over the uneasiness of not finishing it, so you keep it around “just in case.”
- Books You Finished but Wished You hadn’t: These are the books from the above category that you finished against your better judgment and now realize that’s several hours of your life you’ll never get back. You keep these books around to remind you why you shouldn’t feel obligated to pick back up the never finished books.
- Books You Bought because Your Friends Told You to: You knew this book probably wasn’t really the book for you, but your friend raved about it and begged you to read it, so you gave in. Admittedly, it was an okay read, but maybe not one you needed to own for the rest of your life.
- Children’s Books You’ve Saved for Your Kids: You’ve had the entire series of Charlie Bone, Nancy Drew Mysteries, and The Box Car Children taking up valuable shelf space for years, but you can’t even think of getting rid of them because your children need to read and love them someday.
- Books You’re not Sure where They Came from, But Can’t Throw Out: Maybe it was given to you as a gift? Maybe it was a school book that never found it’s way home? You’re not sure how these odds and ends books found their way onto your shelf, but you’re not sure what to do with them now that they’re there. You’ve thought about getting rid of them, but can’t quite bring yourself to do it because you don’t feel like you’ve given them a fair chance. Besides, what if one of your friends ask for one of them back someday?
- Books You Were Told Were “Really Good,” but You Don’t Get: The book, as you were told, is truly inspiring and masterfully written. It’s up for about a hundred awards and is literally the best book so-and-so has read in years. You started reading it, but didn’t really “get” it. Ashamed to admit your shortcomings, you’ve kept it around in case one day you suddenly become smarter and it clicks.
- Books You Bought because of Book Club: No one ever really wants to read the books they’re assigned in book club, but you love buying them every month so you can have an excuse to meet up with your friends to talk about pretty much everything except for the book you were supposed to read.
- Books You Bought because a Celebrity Told You To: Deep down, you knew better than to do this but were blinded by Oprah’s all-knowingness and the real-life face of Hermione Granger.
- Books You Have a Nice Copy and a Reading Copy of: These are the books that you have read over and over again, or loved and didn’t want to destroy. So, when you came across the same novel at a secondhand bookstore, you thought, “why not?” Or, perhaps you bought the paperback version first and loved it so much that you wanted a nice hard copy version of it as well. Heck, maybe you bought a second copy of it just so you could let your friends read it without risking your original copy. Whatever the reason, there are those certain books that you have two copies of and you know one’s better than the other.
- Most Importantly Of All, the Books that Carry a Piece of You in Them: This is every single book on your bookshelf. The ones that you’ve read and the ones that have yet to be read. They carry the memories of when you bought them, read them, and talked about them with your friends. They hold on to the feelings of stress you feel when you haven’t gotten around to reading them yet. They remember the times you cried when a favorite character died, the family vacation when you dropped it into the water, or the time long-long ago when you got grounded from the book before you could finish. They remember how tired you were when you had to “just get past this cliffhanger” at 3:00 in the morning. Your collection grows as you grow, and it’s so hard to let books go because it’s like letting a part of yourself go with it. So, you just keep letting them stack up. You just keep buying more shelves. And you let your memory library thrive.
Do you have any of these book types on your shelves? Let us know in the comments below!
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