Wednesday, 25 November 2015

What does you book collection say about you?

One of my book shelves! (top shelf is doubled banked
with a whole line of smaller books behind)
When I go to someone's house for the first time I eye up their collection of books, CD's and DVD's. Books and music being my everyday living and breathing it is to them that I pay particular attention. Break it down further and it is to the books I dwell on first. I wonder, by scanning the shelves, if I have something in common with this person, can I learn something from this person or, no books at all, what does this person do with their life?!

I'm not interested so much in the show books - the complete set of classic works that probably never get read, no I'm interested in real books, the ones that people actually read.

Yesterday afternoon I went to see the vicar to discuss the annual Christingle Service for which our group make between 90-100 Christingles. The vicar's study always interest me because of the book shelves. I don't often visit and when I do there is not normally time to run an eye slowly along all the books. I might pick out one or two but that's all. Yesterday the vicar had to dash off over to the church for a short time and I was left there in his study with his dog. Now, I love dogs, but I'm sorry this is not one I could love (sorry vicar, but pug nosed dogs just don't do it for me and they snort all the time - probably something to do with the squashed in nose!).

Anyway, suddenly I had the run of the book shelves. If only we had time, the vicar and I, we could have some great conversations! Unfortunately he never has time and pinning him down is like trying to catch a slippery eel. So, what did I spy on the shelves? Well, there were Harry Potter books, and Tolkien, and a Keith Richard's nestling next to the book of Leviticus. Also 500 Sacred Places in Britain (I so wanted to leaf through that - I have something similar) and the Complete Sanskrit. I should say that our vicar speaks at least half a dozen languages including Korean, and Greek and often rolls our Aramaic (the show off). There is a copy of the Qu'ran (snap) on the shelf, something called Earth (Pagan, maybe? It's the sort of thing I would expect from him, in which case (snap). There are books on Istanbul, New York and Roman civilisation. What I loved was that the books were not separated into church/theology and secular, they were all mixed up, much like mine. I have Bibles, the Qu'ran, bible study books, commentaries and dictionaries sitting alongside a book of Sudoku puzzles, Being Alive (Bloodaxe Books - poetry), art history books, War Poetry by Sassoon, and a book by William Morris, postcards I've picked up from various exhibitions, a European Phrase Book, and A Simples Life (the Meerkat bestseller!). How telling are those?

So, if you invite me to you house anytime, be aware that your bookshelf will be scrutinised and I may be obliged to ask for a borrow or two. So far all I've got from the vicar are vegetarian and vegan cookbooks he's been given. I must tackle him over the more meaty ones (pun intended).

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