Books by their covers


April 8, 2008 by 8junebugs

I confess: I judge you by your bookshelves. Mike will attest to this–while he cooked me that first dinner, I pretended to look at his fish but was really evaluating the books on the shelves beneath the tank.

And I am not alone, especially when it comes to reconn on the opposite sex.

Before you tag me as the namby-pamby pseudointellectual I fully admit I am, let it be known that this type of literary screening has come back to bite me in the ass. I met a lad long ago who let me catch him reading Catcher in the Rye in a stairwell.

If you know me at all, you know I’m a sucker for boys reading in stairwells. Also for Salinger.

“A ha!” thought my 19-year-old self, adjusting her flowy skirt and releasing her ponytail. “Clearly, we will have much to discuss. Here is a gent of discriminating literary taste. Now that I have seen into his intellectual soul, I am willing to overlook the unfortunate denim jacket.”

Whether he deliberately misled me or just got lucky, I shall never know. Eventually, I learned that he considered Anne Rice’s Memnoch the Devil his Bible. I nearly choked on my ego, I was so appalled. I am something of a Rice fan, but there are limits, and Memnoch was so far past those limits that I think I took up Ayn Rand in sheer protest.

What am I looking for on your shelves? The article nails it–I am looking for intellectual curiosity, for variety that connotes a playful spirit. Dickens and Dante, sure, but also the Dune series. Bonus points for The Tao of Pooh, minus 1 for every Chicken Soup title. If Douglas Adams is well represented, you can probably count on getting to at least second base. Ditto for a well-thumbed Choose Your Own Adventure or a vintage Hardy Boys.

Huntington’s Clash of Civilizations? That may be a tipping point, one way or the other. We can discuss it.

At the same time, I am determining whether my own shelves will freak you out. I have the Dune series, in fact, as well as Little Women, the Deed of Paksenarrion trilogy, Blink: The Power of Thinking without Thinking, Atlas Shrugged (told you), Franny and Zooey, and several editions of Shakespeare’s complete works. I have books on God, books on Jesus, and books on Wicca. I have The 9/11 Commission Report and Mary Poppins. I have the Harry Potter series; biographies of Helen Thomas, Alan Greenspan, and Dave Eggers (to start); and several different style manuals and dictionaries.

I do not have a thesaurus, but I know that’s because I’m a snot-nosed brat. That’s an outlier, just like your copy of The Firm. We can agree to live and let live.

Come out, come out, wherever you are… I know some of you do this. ‘Fess up.


3 thoughts on “Books by their covers

  1. Alicia says:

    I snoop. But I just want to see if everyone’s bookcase is as obvious as mine. You can go down any shelf and say “Matt, Matt, Alicia, Alicia, Alicia, Matt, Alicia” or whatever. The only ones that would be questions are the travel books we’ve bought for places we have or want to visit together.

  2. 8junebugs says:

    Yes, your selections are sometimes night and day. I know you sometimes read his books — does he ever read yours?

    The shelves we have out in the open, I think are less obvious. Possibly by design…I don’t remember.

  3. Alicia says:

    He will when I tell him he should. I don’t expect him to read Dogs of Babel or a Jane Green book, but if I really like something I’ll make him read it.

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