Book Chat

Take a Peek… at My Bookshelf!

I think you can tell a lot about a person by what books you find on their bookshelves.  So, in order to introduce you to some of my favorite bloggers, I thought we would peek at their bookcases and see what they read… the good, the bad, and the embarrassing!
In the interest of full disclosure, I’ll start.

1. If your home was burning down and you could only rescue one book (the e-reader doesn’t count!), which would it be?

This is a tough one… what immediately came to mind was the early edition of Little Women that my Mom just gave me for my birthday (along with the 1933 movie version starring Katharine Hepburn, my namesake!  She’s hilariously Hepburn-esque, not at all like the book, and it’s awesome.)

But when it really comes down to it, even rare editions can be found elsewhere and the story stays the same no matter what edition you’re reading… so I’d have to go with sentimentality: I would have to save my baby book.

It’s falling apart at the seams, but my mother and father’s handwriting just isn’t something that can be replaced—and where else could I find a lock of hair from my second haircut—nowhere! (Second haircut, because my mother found out the woman caring for me had already given me a snip before she knew about it!  This was in Tunisia where we lived the first couple years of my life—I have no recollection at all of Africa, which makes my baby book that much more special to me!)

2. Do you keep books on display because they look pretty (no shame in that!) or because they’re your favorites?

I’ve always struggled with this… but since we moved from MS to SF a year ago, I had to trim down my book collection; so because of that, and how little storage we have now in our tiny one bedroom apartment, I can now say that only my favorites made it to the bookshelf.  Well… my favorites, plus books in my ever-growing To-Read pile.  Plus hand-me-downs from my Mom’s book club.  Plus new books that catch my fancy.  Plus… I think you get the picture… I’m a book hoarder!

BUT all my books can be found in my two bookcases, because that’s all the space I have!  (Except a few are stuffed in my craft storage unit, and on my bedside table, and in a Tupperware storage box in the hall closet… but let’s just forget about those for the moment…)

3. Have you kept any books from your childhood; if yes, which ones and why?  If no, why not and where are they now?

A resounding yes!  (Click over to my Book Chat page to read about my Grandma’s trunk of books that I couldn’t part with when moving across the country.)  I didn’t keep all of them, of course, but all my favorites reside on their own shelf in my bookcase.

I’m pretty good at cutting out sentimental clutter in my life, except when it comes to books.  I don’t know why, exactly, but I just have a lot of memories associated with my favorite books from childhood.  I can’t wait to read them to my future children, of course, but I have to admit I keep them for myself too.

4. Which genre(s) monopolize your bookshelf, and why?

I’d say this is a tie between Classics and Nonfiction, although I wouldn’t say those are necessarily my favorite genres in general.  Those are the books I tend to re-read or refer to, so I guess that’s why they garnered a permanent place on my bookshelf.  A lot of books I enjoy reading, but if I know I’m not going to re-read them or if they didn’t have a profound impact on me, I usually pass them on or list them on  I definitely enjoy historical fiction, biographies, and fantasy, but that isn’t really reflected on my bookshelf.

5. Of the books on your bookshelf (or e-reader), which is the latest that has stuck with you even after you finished it? (I’m fishing for book recommendations here!)

I honestly haven’t read a book lately that has completely grabbed me—I guess that’s why I wanted to ask others this question!  I’ve recently been on a fantasy kick—Among Others, by Jo Walton and the sequel The Magician King, by Lev Grossman—but I know that’s not everybody’s cup of tea.  I can’t wait to see what the guest bloggers have to say for this answer, because I love hearing about great books!

6. What is the most random/unexpected book you own?

Ok… I seriously debated whether or not I would share this with world.  But I’m being completely honest here, and this book is definitely… random.  Unexpected.

Vaginas: An Owner’s Manual, by Dr. Carol Livoti and Elizabeth Topp!  Yep… it’s a handy little reference just in case you need… reassurance?  Advice?  A refresher?  Have to admit, I keep this book hidden behind a row of books, and I haven’t actually consulted it in a few years, but it’s better than going to the internet with a question…  you never know what you’ll find!

7. Do you prefer hardbacks, paperbacks, or e-books?

I definitely love e-books for travelling and on-the-go reading–it’s surprising how much you can read during a 20 min bus ride or a wait at the doctor’s office.  And then I can avoid those weird magazines in the waiting room that are outdated by three years!  The Kindle cuts down on a lot of my storage problems with books, especially if I don’t intend to re-read a book.

I’ve had my Kindle for the past couple years, and just this week my Mom surprised me with the new Kindle Fire for my birthday!

I’m so in love with it already—my Mom always knows the best way to spoil me!  I thought I would miss the e-ink of the original Kindle, but the bright screen doesn’t hurt my eyes at all and it’s perfect for watching videos (I’ve already tested out Mom’s Kindle Fire during a recent infusion—two episodes of Downton Abbey sure do make those two hours go by swiftly!)

But when I’m reading a book I really love, I do like to be able to physically hold it, and flip through to my favorite parts, and sometimes to read the ending first.  (That probably breaks some sort of Reading Rule, but oh well!)  So for my favorite books that I re-read over and over, nothing beats a well-worn paperback.  Hardbacks, I can take or leave; they’re pretty but they take up too much space.

8. Do you organize your books in any way?

A little… but not intentionally.  I only own two bookcases, so my books just naturally fell together on each shelf.  I mostly tend to put authors or genres together and then by binding–hardbacks on the lower shelves, paperbacks on the higher shelves, picture books together, etc.

Lately I’ve been contemplating rearranging alphabetically—it would make it so easy to find everything!  But even if I’m just glancing over at my bookshelves, I’m the type of person who starts rearranging books so the spine colors look pleasing together.  So… it will probably just stay like it is, a mix of fluid organization and appearance that only makes sense to me.

9. What’s next on your to-read list, and how do you choose what to read next?

Next up is the June book for my Book Club, although I had to miss May’s meeting so I don’t know what it will be yet.  But of course, I keep a continuous pile of To-Read books… sometimes I’ll get on a jag of reading all one author, or go on a genre kick.  Sometimes I just pick something up to get off my To-Read list.  The unread books usually get stacked on top of my orderly rows of books on the bookshelf until their fate has been decided.  If I do want to keep the book after reading it I have to find a space for it to fit (no easy feat), and if not it either gets listed on (see the sidebar on the right to look me up!) or passed on to a friend.  So that’s why, try as I might to contain the chaos, my bookshelves are always a bit haphazard.

I’m in the middle of a few books at the moment, but I have no idea what to read next!

10. Do you have a “guilty pleasure” book you’re a bit embarrassed to say you love?

I keep a lot of children’s books and if anybody ever asked…. I’d probably say I’m preserving them for my future children.  But truthfully, I take out old childhood favorites to flip through and read more often than I’d probably admit to a stranger.  The illustrations and beloved stories are the best comfort when I’m restless or upset.  So I wouldn’t say I’m embarrassed of my children’s book collection… but they are a bit of a guilty pleasure!

I’ve been having a ton of fun collaborating with a few of my favorite bloggers, and I’m so grateful they made the time to join in the fun!  I came up with a few questions, poked around their blogs for some great pics, and a guest post was born!  Stay tuned next week to Take a Peek at… Casa Del Hansen‘s bookshelves!

2 thoughts on “Take a Peek… at My Bookshelf!

  1. What a beautiful edition of Little Women!!!! I love old books, don’t you? How cool that you’re named after Katharine Hepburn, too. I’m also super impressed that you’re able to keep your books to two shelves. Loren and I have probably too many – I think with our last shift we were all proud that we got it down to five shelves instead of seven? Clearly we need to be better at parting with our book-children. ;o)

    Thanks for getting this going; I can’t wait to be “featured” next week – AND hear what everyone else is reading1


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