This post was inspired by a couple of posts I saw on FetLife about being attracted to a person by the books on their bookcase. Since I don’t want to link to someone’s blog there without permission, and he hasn’t yet posted them publicly – for now, that’s as much attribution as I’ll give for the inspiration.
Up until about a month ago (when I moved), my bookshelf was a farce.
Someone perusing my titles might have found me eclectic and interesting and imminently fuckable because of it.
Thing is, based on those books, they’d probably meant to fuck my late husband.
It’s too bad they weren’t around to meet him, because most of those books were his. He was a voracious reader. He had 52 years on this earth to collect – and collect he did – since he never threw a damned thing away. Ever.
No, I mean, like…ever.
I went through one purge shortly after he passed. I kept my books – (and I’ll get back to that) – but I also kept a lot of his. The ones I thought were cool. The ones that attracted me to him. Had an entire room in my house dedicated to books because they were precious and I had a difficult time letting them go.
But I never read them.
If you were to look at my bookshelf….the books that were placed there by me?
Well, you’d probably want to fuck the version of me that existed 20 years ago. That’s about how long it’s been since I’d have considered myself a “voracious reader.”
Then again, you might be turned on by the fact that after so many purges, those are the ones I’ve kept. Those are the titles I want serving as the ambassadors of what you might think is my intellect, but really? It’s my sentimentality.
That’s where you find my entire collection of Star Trek novels. I was in junior high when I started reading those. They take up a lot of real estate on that shelf. I’ll likely never read them again, but I love them. I just love them for my love of the franchise they represent and deeper insights and further stories about the characters I love.
I mean, I read all the Sweet Valley Twins and Sweet Valley High books during that time, too, but even though I can remember exactly when Bruce took Jessica’s bikini top off in the ocean and the description of the water swirling up and chilling her breasts (the cornerstone of my early sexual fantasies for years) – I don’t actually HAVE any of those on my bookshelf anymore.
There’s one still on the shelf called Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, published in 1989. I read it when I was in elementary school. It was the first book of a serious nature I’d ever read – about two young girls during the Holocaust. It made an impact on me. I tried to get my parents to read it so that we could talk about it.
They didn’t. But I kept it. I still have it.
Ooh. And the Westing Game. I loved that book. Read it so many times. It had an effect on me – there was a character who was lauded for her beauty, but she quietly hated it. She wanted to be known for who she was as a person and not respected for how pleasant her face, hair, and body were. I related so strongly to her. I tried to get my parents to read that one too.
I still remember exactly where I was when I read the big reveal. Oh my goodness, that feeling of all the pieces starting to fit together. I was in an after school program at the Jewish Community Center, ignoring all my peers and huddled into one of those plastic orange chairs leaning over a low table. I raced through the last few pages and went right back to the beginning and read the whole thing again in one sitting; now with the key piece of information in mind.
I think that’s the first book I ever read multiple times. I loved it so much!
I’d loaned it out to somebody and it never made it back to me; but some time in the last year, I found a copy in a giveaway pile. It’s back on my shelf again.
Any books that have found a place onto my shelf since then were either given to me by my husband, or compulsorily purchased for high school or college courses. After all, I was an English major with an emphasis on creative writing. I liked a few of those, so those are the ones granted intentional place on my shelf.
From him: Lolita. Don Quixote. Permanent Midnight.
From School: The Awakening. Metamorphosis. House of Mirth. Geek Love.
And, of course, there’s the entire Harry Potter collection. I started reading those right after book 4 was published – devouring my cousin’s first three during a week-long family houseboat trip on the Sacramento Delta. I read 4 – 6 electronically, and pre-ordered the final book in hardcover as it came out. I read that one from cover to cover on a flight from LA to New Jersey ten years ago. I then lent my physical copies to my stepdaughter when she came of age to read them. Being a child, she loved them to the point of destruction – so the hard-bound ones that now sit on my shelf with uncracked spines in the collectible trunk were a gift (like many of the Star Trek and Doctor Who coffee table books I do already have on display) from a loving husband who enjoyed my fanaticism.
That’s about what’s on my shelf that I’d say is mine. Except the ones in my kindle and audible accounts.
There aren’t many. And there are several that are in there that I haven’t read yet. But…unless you’re looking through my phone or tablet or laptop, you won’t see an accurate representation of what I’m into today.
But, as I wrote this out, I realized that the ones you might see in my house (or in a photo of me in my house) were a bit more than simply sentimental. In many ways, the ones I kept helped to influence who I am at my core.
So maybe taking a look at my bookshelf, now that the books there are mostly mine is an accurate representation after all – maybe not of the entirety of who I am and what I’m about, but certainly there are some key elements they helped form.
Ooh. That was a fun thing to write. It even surprised me at the end.
I’m gonna go back to the beginning and read it again.