Random Bits of Awesomeness

First, from Sony Test Driver Liz, a story from Stockholm:

In Stockholm, I was in a major department store called NK (http://www.nk.se/). This place makes Nordstrom look like a Target that’s trying too hard. There was a fashion show going on in the foyer, people were mobbing the Hermes boutique, and me? I just wanted to find the toy department in the hope that somewhere in Europe was a store not completely sold out of the GoGo Crazy Bones my kids asked me to bring back. My thought was lavish block long multi story department store = higher prices but lower selection = maybe some GoGos left?

I have to admit, it was hard to focus. I mean, LOOK at those purple knee high gladiator style crocs. Seriously! Do you know how hard it was to leave those behind??? What? I’m revealing too much about myself? You don’t understand the awesome brilliance of that shoe? Ok, ok, I’ll move on. So there I am, wandering the aisles, roaming from floor to floor when I find the bookstore. I think hey, I wonder who’s published over here? Sure, Nora Roberts will be – but who else got the translation to whatever everyone around me is speaking? (Swedish? I am in Sweden, right? You can see how I prepare for these things.)

I take about two steps into the section, when I see that there is an english language endcap, angled so it catches the attention of anyone who walks into the store. My first thought is that Charlaine Harris must be making some money, yo. My second thought is OMG HOLY CRAP! See for yourself.

Sold at extremely high end retailers everywhere – even in Stockholm.

Oh holy smoke. Swedish Bosoms. My day is MADE.

But wait, more awesomeness!

Bethanne Patrick, aka The Book Maven, wrote a really thought-provoking and lyrical post about the bookshelves of other people for BN.com:

gazing at “the books of others” is a less transgressive but often no less transformative method of cultural eavesdropping. [emphasis mine] You might learn that your host has never read anything besides every Stephen King novel ever published, or you might discover that your friend arranges her books by color. You might laugh upon finding that your aunt and uncle keep a shelf full of college textbooks, or be shocked to see that your best friend has a serious romance habit.

So true. Like most romance fans, my books are two or three deep on the shelf, and there’s a ton of them in all genres, in all stages of wear from brand spanky new to tattered and tired. But, again like most romance fans, it’s not just romance that takes up real estate on my (many) bookshelves, and I LOVE to look at what other people read and house in their homes.

What about you – who, besides you, has the best bookshelves for snooping that you know of?


Comments are Closed

  1. 1
    azteclady says:

    My mother, my eldest brother, my second eldest brother, the third brother and middle child, my sister…

    Huh… yeah, we are all book addicts.

  2. 2
    Niveau says:

    Wow… those knee-high crocs are… wow. There are no words.

    I always find something to read in my best friend’s collection. She only had one bookshelf, so most of her books live on the floor, but once you figure out how to get at them without causing all the piles to topple, you find some great stuff.

  3. 3

    Neil Gaiman. Srsly.
    Word. Lots and lots and lots of them. I could live there. And there’s a cat, too.

  4. 4
    Jen Penny says:

    Neil Gaiman’s library is seriously mesmerizing. Some day, Self, when we are rich and famous, a library like that will be ours.

    I’ve been told my bookshelves have been a great source of inspiration and, having worked for years in libraries, my shelves are pretty impeccably organized for easy browsing. Plus at my annual Christmas party I have friends who trade me booze for book loans.

  5. 5
    beggar1015 says:

    It’s interesting you should bring this up because right at this moment (I’m taking a break) I’m in the process of re-arranging some furniture and I’m moving a big bookcase from a bedroom to the living room. As I’m carting my books around I’m thinking, now do I want people to see this book? Am I embarrassed to have guests see that I own something like this? Would they even know who Anais Nin is, or should I keep Delta of Venus hidden away?

    Does anyone else think like this? Are you concerned about what books you display to the public? Or do you just say, “Here’s what I read. Deal with it!”

    Myself, I think I will put that Anais Nin in another room.

    BTW, I own other kinds of books I have no trouble putting in the living room, so don’t think its all kinky stuff.

  6. 6
    Rhonni says:

    I’ve been a sought-after cat-sitter for years, and I find I learn as much about a person from their shelves as I do from how detailed they’ve made their pet care rule sheet.

    It’s one thing to peek, but altogether another to live with the books and have time to read some that you might not have looked at otherwise.

  7. 7
    Barbara says:

    Oneof my professors in college, Dr. Haynes, always seemed to carry herself with a superior sniff. The sort of person who reads Tolstoy to purify her mind, and all that.

    She had an awesome collection of books in her public areas (I started reading Harlem Renaissance because of her). I always wondered what she had stashed away in her bedroom…

    Anyway—that’s an aside to a quote that resonated for me in this post. In Komarr, LM Bujold has one of her characters say:

    A man’s library gives information about the shape of his mind the way his clothing gives information about the shape of his body.

    Word: father52
    Actually my dad passed away at 60…

  8. 8
    Carin says:

    When I was in high school I babysat a LOT.  A couple of my families had bookshelves with romance.  *smile*  I’d get the kids settled in bed and sit and read.  When the headlights turned in the driveway I’d hurry and put the book back.  :)  And wait for the next time I babysat.

  9. 9
    Tina C. says:

    I have mine arranged by …well, I don’t know what to call it.  I have one bookcase devoted to my reference books and art history/regular history books.  I have one bookcase that has my husband’s books grouped according to type (Civil War, Victorian Era, Victorian erotica, Photography, etc) and all of my hardcovers (about 2 shelves out of the 5 available).  I have 5 bookcases devoted to paperbacks, double-stacked, in alphabetical order by author, then title.  I have one bookcase for cookbooks.  There’s one bookcase for the husband’s gaming stuff.  I need about 3 or 4 more bookcases, but I’ve run out of space, so there are boxes of the husband’s Star Trek & Star Wars books and gaming manuals in the garage. 

    Does anyone else think like this? Are you concerned about what books you display to the public? Or do you just say, “Here’s what I read. Deal with it!”

    I display everything I read—because, frankly, if I want to read something specific at a later date, I want to be able to find it and I simply never occurred to me before now that perhaps the Maya Banks belonged in the bedroom.  Of course, the last time I re-did the shelves, I was thinking that most people would probably think that the books on my shelves belong to a couple of different people, at least.  (And I have actually had someone say once, “So, the thrillers and horror are your husband’s and the romances are yours, right?”  “Uh, no, every book in those bookcases is mine.”)

  10. 10
    Marianne McA says:

    There was a professor down the road we used to visit who’d moved into this tiny ecologically sustainable cabin after his wife died, and the number of books he’d fitted in was amazing. They were arranged in stacks, like a university library, so you had to sidle through to get the children to the toilet. And I’d a friend in Dublin who’d a kind of Gaimanesque room (on a much smaller scale.) It’s not so much the numbers of books, more the magical feeling that you could discover anything on the shelves.

    As for displaying, I moved everything ‘adult’ upstairs to my bedroom, because my daughter has a friend who is a reader and likes to borrow books when she comes over. Leaves it that she can take whatever she wants, without having to check with me beyond the basic politeness of: ‘Is it okay if I take these books?’

  11. 11
    Gwynnyd says:

    When I moved into this house, it came with a blank wall at the top of the stairs thirteen feet long and eight feet high with a door at either end. The door frames are just far enough out that I fit in floor to ceiling and wall to wall bookshelves that are exactly one paperback deep there.  Because my husband is all kinds of awesome, to keep the dust off, we built paneled, solid cherrywood doors for the shelves in three, four foot sections.  I have my SF in one section, my mysteries in one section, and my romance in the section where we used a little too much heart wood in a board and one door warped just a little. It seemed appropriate, somehow.

  12. 12

    I even book snoop when at restaurants or stores that use books as part of their decor.  It’s amazing what you might fine.  I actually found a lovely early edition of Georgette Heyer at a furniture store and begged the manager to let me buy it.  Bless the dear man, he let me have it once he realized that I was serious.

    left53?  Well, I have left at least 53 books, but sometimes less.

  13. 13
    HeatherK says:

    My mother has 2 book cases full in her room, stacks of books on her head board, and another book case full in the hall between two bedrooms. I frequently pillage those books, and trade books with her on occasion, though I like scifi and paranormal and the only scifi she’s read is mine and she only owns one paranormal that she’s never read because it has something of mine in it.

    My books aren’t as organized. I have a small linen closet in the hallway with CD cases stacked containing books, though hubby has piled other junk in there so high you can no longer see the books. Good thing they weren’t favorites. In my room, there’s a book case on top of my chest of drawers that’s full of keepers. My bedside table has two drawers full of books. My dresser has 4 drawers full of books, mostly hard backs. And I have a few in the living room on top of a storage unit. I’m out of book case space, so I pretty much just stick them wherever I can find that they fit anymore.

    One of these days, whenever we can afford to move into a bigger house, I plan to have a room just for my books and writing. I can dream at least.

    My grandmother had a room that was nothing but books. I really enjoyed going into that room, though my book was nowhere to be seen. Turns out, she had my book hid in a sack and stuck in one of her dresser drawers where no one would find it. I now have it tucked away in my keeper tote. Miss that woman every day.

  14. 14
    Niveau says:

    Does anyone else think like this? Are you concerned about what books you display to the public? Or do you just say, “Here’s what I read. Deal with it!”

    My Harlequin Presents novels all live in the back rows of my romance shelves, and are hidden by the single-titles. I may love some of them to death, but the covers, and especially the titles… *sigh*

  15. 15
    Krista says:

    A good friend of mine has a wall of bookshelves in her living room, all organized by the author’s birthplace. You know, a section for Americans, Canadians, Brits, South Africans, etc. Pretentious for sure, but I still love her. And it makes it a bitch to find books when I’m there to borrow (or steal heh heh).

  16. 16
    Stefanie says:

    I love to peruse my best guyfriend’s bookshelves because he has stacks of “boy books” that I scorned when I was younger, but am now interested in.  He almost always has smething I want to borrow, be it Vonnegut or V for Vendetta.

  17. 17
    Judy says:

    Sadly, most of my friends are not great readers and done hang on to many books.  My family, however, has always been a reading family.  Mom (Mysteries and Romance) and Dad (SF) always had a book nearby and, although they never pushed us, we all became readers as well.  I am probably the worst of the bunch. 

    Before I moved into this house I had five book cases devoted entirely to Fantasy/SF/a little horror; one more devoted to Romance; one to Westerns (mostly old 1st half of the 1900s ones by B.M. Bower – a woman no less); another for mysteries; and yet another for general fiction/nonfiction.  And all shelves were double-filed.  In trying to clean out the house a bit (de-clutter for selling) I actually rented a small storage locker and moved all my books into it.  And I weeded as I went, donating to the local library and sending paperbacks to the used bookstore (for trade credit).

    Now I have become more ruthless in what I keep – only those I know I want to re-read (and actually do so), perennial favorites, etc.  I’m down to three bookcases for SF/Fan, one for Romance, one for mysteries/general/NF.  Oh, and one for TBRs.  If I pick up a book that I thought I wanted “forever”, open it, and discover myself saying “Why on earth did I keep this one?” – off it goes.  I swap most of the paperbacks on one of three swap sites, donate hardcovers to the current local library.  The house is looking neater but I have to dust more.

  18. 18
    Bibliophile says:

    I was fascinated by my grandmother’s library when I was a child. It was housed in two rooms – one was also a bedroom and had wall-to-ceiling shelves on two walls and just enough space for a small bed where I slept when I visited her. The books made me feel very comfortable and it was sleeping alone in that room with all those books that helped me get rid of my fear of the dark. The really exciting part of the library was the other room, the book room. Three walls were covered with full bookshelves (the fourth wall was mostly one big window), there were books in stacks on the floor and you never knew what you would find when you went in there, because it wasn’t organised. I decided then that I would one day have a room just for books. I haven’t quite gotten there yet, but I will.

  19. 19
    Jodie says:

    I went to vist my friend in Bath who was renting a room in the most wonderful house (minus you had to go down a hill, up a hill and then down a hill again to get to it). Her flatmates were a married couple who were away in India for quite a while so I was free to snoop their bookshelves when she wans’t looking. Every room of that four bed house had at least one floor to ceiling bookcase and the landings all had half bookcases and there was bathroom reading, piles of it.

  20. 20
    MaryK says:

    What I hate is when visitors, who never read, look at my bookshelves and say, “Have you read all these books?” in the same tone you’d say, “Are all these cats yours?”  And they’re only seeing my public shelves not the ones in my bedroom.  I want to say something snotty in reply like, “No, I just like decorating with paperback spines.”  But they’re usually relatives so I have to be nice.

    One day, I’ll have a proper library room to which only the chosen will be admitted.

  21. 21
    ibm says:

    There’s a great book called “Snoops” about the psychology of looking at people’s stuff:


    It’s an enjoyable and well written academic book – and you can’t say that very often…

  22. 22
    Sasha M. says:

    Oh crap I should’ve taken a picture I will oh I will I’ll go back to the bookstore and take a picture and the security will probably be after my ass because for some reason they think a person can use a nearly-prehistoric camera phone to capture XXX pages of a novel or whatever and

    OKAY. SMART BITCHES IS IN THE PHILIPPINES IT IS IT IS. I could’ve wept when I saw the copies. I grabbed one of the two remaining, and sashayed away in utter bliss. This is in one of the majormajorest bookstores in this country—it’s called National Bookstore, for cake’s sake—and I was so goddam glad I didn’t have to order it online because that would mean Customs (greedy little bleeps) would find ways to tax me exorbitantly. Oh, hell. I’m just so GLAD you’re here.

    Hello from over here! :)

    SPAMword: reported44, how apt.

  23. 23
    bedroom set says:

    Basically, I look at all the driftwood on the bank of the river and find pieces that already have a nice shape. Then I turn it into something cool. Long thin crooked pieces I stand up in a vase along with some wild flowers. The wild flowers…I hang up on my deck until they dry….then I spray them with hair spray so they will stay intact. The driftwood I dip in stain then allow to dry. Sometimes I will then put a clear varnish on top of it to seal it and make it look a little ‘shiny’.

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