I love to know what people are reading. By “people” I mean people out in the world, usually people I don’t know, people who would most likely be somewhat startled if I just randomly interrupted to ask what book they’re reading. (This is especially true because I don’t really have a follow up question. I mean, I might, based on their answer, but in general I just want to know. I don’t necessarily want to have a conversation about it; I’m just curious.) I’m talking about the guy at the gym or the college student at the mechanic or the kid waiting outside his sister’s dance class. There are always mothers sitting out there too, with books, and I spend a lot of time trying to surreptitiously figure out what everyone is reading, without actually asking.
I also love to look at bookshelves. There’s something endearingly personal about a bookshelf — a real one at least; if a bookcase and its contents are mostly for show, that’s less interesting (though still interesting). But a real bookcase … a real bookcase is like a shorthand conversation, a flash of insight, a page out of a diary. You can learn an awful lot about someone by checking out their bookshelves. There was an article in the Guardian awhile back that talked about this, and the author of that article even created a Tumblr called Share Your Shelf) that is ridiculously addicting (like, I feel I should apologize now if you haven’t seen this site yet). I suspect a lot of people focus mostly on the design elements of the photos submitted, and I do like to see the ingenious shelving solutions, but I love looking at the titles even more. So I got to thinking, what about the other Hub bloggers? I (sadly) haven’t met most of them in person, but I would dearly love to see (and hear about) their bookshelves. Some of them were kind enough to share: