Yes, I judge people by their bookshelves

And their video/DVD collections, if it comes to that. To me it's the best way to tell if someone's a kindred spirit. When I was 14 I went to babysit and was stunned to see an exact replication of my father's bookshelves in this couple's living room. Complete with the leather-bound Louis L'amour, the Tom Clancy collection, and the Jason Bourne novels. So when I come to your house please don't be surprised if I move directly to the book shelves and possibly knock over your aged grandmother in the process. If you don't have bookshelves at your house, then . . . I'm really not sure what we have to talk about, actually, and we should probably just call it a night.

So yes. I am highly attracted to bookshelves. I cannot resist them. And on Sunday I created something that I'd seen other people do and which is pretty much my new favorite thing ever:

Book. Shelf. Porn.

Who even knew that my books arranged by color would be so sexy? They're suddenly so much more interesting this way.

Now I just stare at them and make love to them with my eyes. And when friends come over drag them upstairs to Gaze upon the Hotness.

The only problem is that now it's just a tiny bit harder to find what I'm looking for. I previously had a shelf designated as Bathroom Reads. Now those stand-bys are all interspersed among the others, which will possibly lead to me doing the Bathroom Dance in front of the bookshelf and maybe bursting a kidney. Still. It's a small price to pay for beauty.


Miss Hass said... [reply]

I'm a total judger of people based solely on the contents of their bookshelves. In my home growing up, every room had at least one bookshelf in it. I knew a family that didn't own a single book other than yearbooks and that was a totally foreign concept to me. Actually, it still kind of is. I mean, you don't read ANYTHING? I have a bookshelf in my bathroom, for sobbing out loud, that's how many books I have. Only they aren't arranged as prettily as yours. And I'm very jealous.

MBC said... [reply]

I feel all sort of floaty and inspired and awed. I humbly bow before your most excellent idea.

Cicada said... [reply]

It looks awesome! Now if I can convince Murray...

Lady Steed said... [reply]

I have been wanting to do this to our bookshelves, but Theric isn't so sure that it makes for a good library system. He likes the idea of arranging them by color, but he is just more concerned about the books being on the shelves in an more logical manner.

We too judge people by their bookshelves. And so, our huge bookshelves are front and center in the living room. They take up one whole wall. If we had more open walls we would have way more bookshelves up but, alas, we live in a tiny house. And, well, bookshelves are a huge earthquake hazard. I am sure that when 'the big one' hits we will all be crushed by our bookshelves.

Go watch Theric's Thvlog:Time to Die, for a view of our shelves and his thoughts on 'the big one'.

Carly said... [reply]

Wow, that looks amazing! I've been wanting to do something like that for a while (that or cover them all in cool, coordinated papers to my decor) but don't have the time, space, or all of my books in one place... too bad. I'll have to stare at yours instead.

BTW, my friendm, Diana, from Boston just moved to L**** and I told her about you. She goes to the library a lot, so I said you guys should be friends. She's awesome, so are you, it's destined to be! If only she was a guy...

Nerd Goddess said... [reply]

IT took me about 5 seconds to find about 5 books that I've loved and read or own.

Clearly your taste must be good.

Saxon said... [reply]

hmm, I make that two bookcases with four shelves a piece.

Well I have two floor to ceiling style bookcases with each with six shelves, 1 smaller bookcase in my room of four shelves, one unit, and one set of wall mounted of three wall mounted shelves all packed full of books.

Do you think thats enough books?

Scully said... [reply]

That makes the OCD person in me very, very happy.

cooldad said... [reply]

I think therapy may be in your near future.

FoxyJ said... [reply]

Those are so cool! I totally judge people by their bookshelves and what's on them (or not). Mr. Fob is not into organizing by color either, so that probably wouldn't fly in our house. Right now our shelves are a mixed up mess, but we're too lazy to fix them. We're moving next June or July, plus Little Dude is always rearranging them. For some reason he's partial to this set of hardback Hemmingway from the 1960s...

The Stancliff Family said... [reply]

So, are you offended when a new person comes into your home and doesn't pay ANY attention to your bookshelves? I'm always sort of shocked when this happens. Because it's the first thing I do upon entering a new place. To me, ignoring my bookshelves is like forgetting to tell me how cute my kids are when they are all dressed up on the Sunday before Christmas. The nerve of some people.

By the way, I still read your blog all the time...I'm just not a habitual commenter. Hello to Cicada, Parcelax, and Daltongirl.

kristen said... [reply]

I do mine by category and/or author. I'm OCD that way. But yours do look very pretty.

I love it when people ask me about my books or what I am reading. I get a little excited (I'm such a nerd). I love it even more when people want to borrow my books. It makes me feel special. But I hate it when they don't return them, and then I have to hunt them down.

cooldad--you crack me up.

TOWR said... [reply]

I used to arranged my CD cases by color. Until I got too many of them to fit in the case and started relegating CDs to shoe boxes and such. But that CD tower is mighty pretty.

April said... [reply]

I always drift towards people's bookshelves, too. It's inevitable. My bookcase doesn't have nearly as many books as yours, but you'd be welcome to gaze at all the pretties.

Anonymous said... [reply]

oooh, pretty. *mesmerized*
I could stare at your bookshelf all day. Its very hypnotic.

Nemesis said... [reply]

Has, you have given me a new goal for which to aspire. I will have bookshelves in my bathroom.

MBC, I am flattered! I wish it were my own original idea, but oh well. :-)

Cicada, I'm sure there's something you can do. Just think, pretty soon you'll have a whole new kind of leverage to use . . .

Lady Steed, I actually thought about you guys while I was doing this, and about all the books you have. Because I'm sure that would look absolutely amazing, even if it did make it impossible to find anything.

Carly, feel free to send your friend on over! I do love meeting bosom friends, and if her name actually is Diana then I don't see how it could go wrong, really. And yes, I hear you on the "if only" friend. I should warn you, though, that a lot of people make a mistake about which library I'm at. So feel free to email me (miss.nem at gmail.com) if you want to be sure.

Yay for having excellent taste, Nerd Goddess!

Saxon, how I wish I had that. Alas I have only one small room for the installing of bookshelves. Which is also why I have quite a lot of books boxed up under my bed. Am so in love with the colors though that I might haul them out . . .

Scully, I am so glad!

Nemesis said... [reply]

Dad, you're the funniest. :-P

Foxyj, I hear you on not wanting to tackle the huge project when you're moving anyway. Every time I move I get rid of loads of books and wonder why I have so darn many in the first place. And then they start breeding or something. I don't even know how it happens.

You know what, Stanclax? I think I probably am offended when people don't notice books. ESPECIALLY now that mine are so pretty. It might be a very effective screening process. And I'm so glad to hear from you!

Kristen, I'm with you on loving to lend people your books. And on less loving the part where they don't give them back.

Towr, I would love to see that CD rack sometime.

April, I would do it, too. Next time you're in UT you're totally welcome to come to my house. We can stare at books together.

Anonymous, I know! It's kind of funny how much time I spend staring at it now, when I really didn't pay much attention to it at all before. :-) Thank you!

BEFore said... [reply]

I hide my books in my room so people can't figure out how crazy I am.



On another though:
What about people who are library fans? (vs buying)

What about people who buy books but never read them?

Is that like judging a book by it's cover? (Guilty.)

Nemesis said... [reply]

Before, you bring up SUCH good points.

Having an entire library at my disposal has actually curbed my book-buying impulse somewhat. Because I tell myself that it will be there when/if I want to read it.

Also, I have books I haven't read yet. They're on that "to get to" list. And if I love them I'll keep them. If not, I'll donate them to the library.

Some people are in the "books as wallpaper or art" camp, which I can understand. They will actually buy loads of old or cool-looking books just for the way they look on the shelf. I can't fault them for that, unless I find out that they're non-readers posing as readers, in which case they're dead to me.

Desmama said... [reply]

I feel so honored to have seen this in real-life. And I wish I had enough books to fill up my bookshelves all pretty-like.

RC Cola! said... [reply]

So pretty and rainbow-y! I don't have a bookshelf for the time being -my books are stacked sadly in boxes and in a dirrty pile in my car. *weeps*

Edgy said... [reply]

I am so saving this post for the next time someone gives me grief about how many books I have or how anal or particular I am about their placement on their shelves.

The coloring idea is fun, but I just don't see it as practical. Though I guess I could adjust, considering that I generally know exactly where every book is. But still . . .

Must visit L**** sometime.

miranda said... [reply]

i gravitate toward others' bookshelves as well. We have one large bookcase and then smaller ones scattered throughout our house. And I still haven't room for all my books. There are books behind books, and I have a special pile of them in my room.

Every time I walk into a bookstore, I leave with a book. Or two. Or three. I'm not sure how I feel about the color-coding, though...

Jenny said... [reply]

So I did this to my bookshelf and the kids watched me and now they keep rearranging them! GRR!!! I told them to put them all back by color. This should've been much simpler than it actually was. Hopefully the novelty will wear off soon and my shelves will be left in tact. I also did this to my cookbooks in the kitchen and I'm thinking about doing it to the kids books, or seeing if Savvy can do it herself. I think THAT would be rad.

Also, I can't get behind buying a book you won't read for decorative purposes.

Petra said... [reply]

Oh dear. That's beautiful. And it tempts me...but I just moved in and so just spent several hours organizing my bookshelves into their 26 different natural classes. (Hey, I like books to be really easy to find.)

Oh, and I always judge people based on their books. And you pass--anyone with both A.S. Byatt and Italo Calvino on their shelves must be a cool person.

Maggie said... [reply]

What if you read a lot, but you just check them out from the library? That way you don't really have any books, but you do read. How do you know about those people?

Saxon said... [reply]

well one side benefit of working at a publishers is that I get all of the books we publish for free which I would have bought otherwise.

Donwisde to working at a publishers I get all of the books we publish for free that I would have bought otherwise which means I don't want to get rid of them and so I am running out of space at a rapid pace

Science Teacher Mommy said... [reply]

But how wonderful to have to read your titles over and over again! And how exciting to pick a book just because you are a little bit short of yellow titles. Very sexy.

At this moment, I am REALLY coveting those bookshelves. I had built ins in my last house. But with five people in 1096 square feet, I have literally hundreds of titles that have had to stay boxed up. They are screaming for freedom even as I type.

Must. Have. Book. Shelves.

When I first moved to Texas I was trying to be really good and make new friends. We went to a couple's apartment with several large bookshelves, some of which were only partly full. There were about six books and about 600 DVDs. She said, "My goal is to have my bookshelves entirely filled with movies." My eyes got very large and as the irony was completely lost on her, friendship beyond that dinner was very hard to pursue.

H,T,M,&A said... [reply]

I am feeling really proud of myself right now. I just really realized the significance of having a large DVD collection and a much larger book collection with the DVDS remaining unseen in drawers and the books filling two rooms of shelves. Kind of stupid, but I would hope that that would make me acceptable in your eyes.

The color coordination looks incredible. I would never be able to find anything if I did it, but I must say that I am tempted.

How's that for a long, creepy, stalker-person comment? Now I must go to Amazon.com and take care of the sudden urge to buy a book off of my "save for later" list.

Th. said... [reply]


Well, I see we share a lot of the same books. But did you get rid of Ex Libris? Anne Fadiman would be ashamed of you.

Th. said... [reply]


After reading all the comments, mine no longer makes sense. My point was, she is on record as being against shelving in this way.

And of course you should judge people by their media. Duh.

Have you seen the photographs of the store in SF that did this? I think they started this whole thing and, I'll admit, it looked awesome.

I actually don't think it would be all that hard to find the books--I generally know the color of the spine, so at least I would start in the same place. And all our Penguins are together already, so we have this huge orange explosion on the right end of the shelves.

The big problem with this style of organization is it's a poor use of space. When you have one tall purple book and twenty-five itty-bitty ones all on the same shelf, you have a huge hole where no books can go. Which is a shame. Even with all our books on our shelves, we still have lots of boxes yet unpacked.



(ps, it's a minute-thirty in)

coolmom said... [reply]

I do this all the time with fabric, but it never occurred to me to do it with books. I didn't even know books had so many colors of covers. Very cool. It totally matches my batiks shelf. There is something therapeutic about it. Long live Roy G. Biv!!!

NF said... [reply]


My books are arranged on my top shelf: Harry Potter and John Grisham. Since I love them both.

The rest of my shelves are all trashed. I need to do something about that now--esp. after seeing these photos!

Murray Terreno di Amore said... [reply]

So Cicada convinced me.....what can I say, she has a strong hold over me.

I think I might be in love with her, which is good because I am marrying her.

You can see the result on my blog if you feel so inclined.

Azúcar said... [reply]

Once, many years ago, a woman came into the bookstore and asked my friend Melanee if we had a little yellow book. The woman could not remember the name of the book or author, nor the subject, not even the the possible section it would be in (childrens? cooking? self-help?) She just knew that it was little and yellow.

Melanee said, "Oh, we just stopped arranging our books according to size and color because it made it too difficult for the people who knew the title and author to find books.
The woman said, "Oh, I see."

And now? That story? Not nearly as funny.

Anonymous said... [reply]


Anonymous said... [reply]

This made me think of your bookshelf.

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