Thursday, November 8, 2012

The bookshelf as storyteller

                                                       Source: via Christine on Pinterest

I've come to see the bookshelf as a fascinating window into the soul: a glimpse of the aspirations, fears, and ambitions of a person at a particular time in his or her life.

Several years ago, when my children were young and I was a sleep deprived mommy so busy and exhausted I sometimes forgot to brush my teeth (I know-- disgusting), my bookshelf was dominated by baby books and an array of magazines: fashion, news, gossip, and health.

My most cherished wish was to sleep through the night, prompting me to spend months reading books about one subject: sleep methods.  These books were hardcore and not much fun to read, but I was desperate for information, so I slogged through them with gusto.  To counter the weightiness of these reads, I turned to magazines.  The short articles were perfect for me at the time, because I rarely had more than 15 minutes to focus and read.

Today my bookshelf tells a different story.  It contains a collection of books whose topics fall under three distinct categories: 1) the financial collapse of 2008 2) religion/philosophy 3) memoir.

The books tell all.

When crisis struck my family in 2009, I struggled to find meaning in my experience.  As a result, I became a voracious consumer of all information related to the financial collapse.

But understanding the reasons behind the financial collapse didn't answer the age old question I'd been turning over in my mind: why do bad things happen to good people?  I wanted to find peace.  I wanted to understand the great loss I'd experienced as part of an overall plan that resulted in triumph.  (Everyone wants a happy ending right?) That's when I began to explore the topics of religion and philosophy.

Memoir, of course, began my book career.  It has a special place in my heart, as reading one unleashed my creative energy and allowed me to capture a moment in life on paper.

What story does your bookshelf tell?


  1. My bookshelf reflects a different collapse - the collapse of the book industry. Now that I read mostly e-books, I finally replaced all the books on the shelf in my living room with children's games. I still have bookshelves in the basement, but it's the first time in my life that I don't have bookshelves visible for friends to peruse. (If they could peruse my virtual library, they would find a mix of literary novels, parenting books like Mindset and Bringing Up Bebe, and books on social media, but mostly novels.

    I read all those sleep books, too, by the way. Not sure they helped all that much, but they made me feel like I had some control over my sleep deprivation.

  2. Ah the collapse of the book industry! Does it make you sad? Do you miss sharing your shelf with friends? There is something romantic about a shelf filled with beautiful, well-worn books, books that moved you in one way or another.

    Lots of people commented on Facebook, saying they've become e-readers or big patrons of the library for environmental reasons. I still like to hold a book, but I don't have an e-reader, so that's my only choice, anyway!


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