Where do you go first when you get into someone’s house for the first time? Well, if they don’t know I’m there, I go for the porn and jewelery stashes. But if I’m visiting, I head straight to the bookshelves to see what they’re made of.
What interests me about other people’s books is the nature of their collection. A personal library is an X-ray of the owner’s soul. It offers keys to a particular temperament, an intellectual disposition, a way of being in the world. Even how the books are arranged on the shelves deserves notice, even reflection. There is probably no such thing as complete chaos in such arrangements.
In my house it’s several units of poetry and fiction, a few more of social and cultural theory and shelves and shelves of gender theory. Oh, and I also keep a few Where’s Waldo in there for when my family visits.