Bookshelf Etiquette

An article in the Guardian newspaper discusses bookshelf etiqeutte, and how to arrange books.

• The literary snob

Old Penguins, heavily creased to denote re-reading, are lined up in rows of orange, black and grey. These can be bought by the yard at most secondhand bookshops, and are a very easy way of acquiring instant intellectual credibility.

• The David Cameron

Books by important members of the new Tory World Order are prominently displayed where they can be seen by everyone. Acolytes can ascertain how close to power they are by the position of their own books.

• The Jeffrey Archer

Shelf after shelf of your own book in every imaginable translation and edition – frequently in multiples of 10.

Come to think of it, this applies to almost ever author I know.

• The ‘I’m desperate for a shag’, male version

Must include prominent copies of The Golden Notebook and The Second Sex and any dreary rubbish by Ian McEwan lying around to show you are in touch with your sensitive side. Best to hide any well-thumbed copies of Belle du Jour and La Vie Sexuelle by Catherine M under the bed.

• The “I’m desperate for a shag’, female version

Doesn’t really require books – it’s the last thing a man will notice. But on the off-chance you bring someone home who can read, it might be an idea temporarily to lose anything too intimidating by Andrea Dworkin.

Unless you’re a lesbian, in which case you might like to put it on the coffee table.

I resent the comment about “this applies to almost ever author I know”. I’ll have you know I only currently have one shelf of my books – yes, I know I’ve only got a couple of titles out at the moment. Whatever.

Anyway, I prefer the Leaning Towers of Death when it comes to book arrangement. If you aren’t worried about being buried alive underneath them, you’re not doing it right.

By Mark Newton

Born in 1981, live in the UK. I write about strange things.

4 replies on “Bookshelf Etiquette”

I also favour the Leaning Towers of Death approach – mine are mostly on their sides so you can’t actually tell what they are, stacked up to the heavens, crammed into what little space I’ve got left. I did actually decide one day to arrange it all nicely but that lasted all of five seconds. The hardbacks looked beautiful all lined up and arranged by author though. You share a shelf with Mieville and Vandermeer amongst others btw Mark – esteemed company indeed!

“esteemed company indeed” – Splendid! That’s lovely to know. 🙂

I think if I’m honest, I have vague zones where the “stuff I like the most” sits. But that’s about as far as I’ll ever get to being organised.

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