What Do Your Bookshelves Say About You?

Yesterday evening, Owen Jones (a Guardian columnist and supporter of the former leader of the British Labour Party, Jeremy Corbyn), posted the following tweet regarding books displayed on the shelves of Cabinet minister Michael Gove:

“Why does Michael Gove and his wife own a copy of a book by David Irving, one of the most notorious Holocaust deniers on earth”.

Whilst Jones is correct that Irving is a “holocaust denier”, ownership of a book in no way implies that the owner subscribes to the views propounded therein. As Stephen Pollard points out in “The Jewish Chronicle”, to understand views with which one profoundly disagrees, one must read works that express those opinions, (see https://www.thejc.com/comment/comment/one-stupid-tweet-by-owen-jones-confirms-all-you-need-to-know-about-the-hard-left-1.499433).

Other than poetry and works of fiction, my own bookshelves contain:
V. I. Lenin’s “The State and Revolution”,
Karl Marx’s “The Communist Manifesto”,
Engels “Socialism: Utopian and Scientific”,
Lord Kenneth Baker’s “The Faber Book of Conservatism”,
Lord David Willetts “Modern Conservatism”,
J. S Mill’s “On Liberty”,
Herbert Spencer’s “The Man Versus the State”
And various other works of politics, including writings by the Anarchist theorist Proudhon.

What should one conclude from the above? That I am a Anarchist/Conservative/Marxist/Libertarian? or that, as a student of politics I have an interest in political theory?

My bookcase also contains “The Selected Poems of Rudyard Kipling”. Does my possession of this book make me a racist/imperialist or whatever other word careless people might choose to fling around with gay abandon?

In short, the possession of books does not imply that the possessor agrees with the views being expressed. Indeed (in my own case) where I to subscribe to all the opinions contained in the books on my shelves I would be a highly confused individual in need of serious psychological help!

If anyone of my readers would care to share what lives on their shelves, I would, of course be interested to know. Although I promise not to draw any sweeping conclusions about you!

6 thoughts on “What Do Your Bookshelves Say About You?

  1. coloradopoet

    I love it! I’ve got a lot of HV Morton (travel writer from the early 1900’s), The moment of lift by Melinda Gates, A big volume of Romantic Poetry, an autobiography of Warren Buffet, a lot of Malcom Gladwell, In Siberia and Shadow of the Silk Road by Colin Thuron, At home in the World by Joyce Maynard, The Emperor of maladies by S Mukherjee, a bunch of Micheal Lewis, and currently reading A time of gifts by Patrick L Fermor and The Character Gap by Christian Miller. I agree with you that the topic doesn’t mean your a convert, just curious! Cheers.

    1. K Morris Poet Post author

      Many thanks for sharing what you have (and are) reading. Its fascinating to learn about people’s reading habits/literary tastes. In my post I concentrated on what one’s shelves might/might not reveal about one’s view of the world. I should also have made the point that some people use their shelf space as a means of social status (I.E. leather bound editions of the classics of world literature which have never been opened)! Thanks again, Kevin

  2. Chris Hall

    My shelves are groaning with volumes too numerous to mention (mainly fiction and travel). I’m always fascinated by other people’s book shelves and so many are on show now with folk being interviewed at home. I just wish they’d move out of the way so I can have a proper look!

    1. K Morris Poet Post author

      Thanks Chris. I wonder how many of those people carefully select those of their books they will have on display prior to the interview taking place? A person wishing to portray the image of a cultivated reader might put aside the latest thriller and/or blockbuster romance, and choose to display the works of Dickens and Shakespeare, or perhaps I am being to cynical! Thanks for your perspective

  3. V.M.Sang

    My shelves contain various biographies, including JSBach John Coltraine and Jimi Hendrix. Sporting biographies, too. I’ve the complete works of Shakespeare, various poetry books, books on history eg modern France, the medieval era and the Roman Empire. Maps galore, a bible and hymn books and travel books. Then there is a variety of fiction books, classics, fantasy, sci fi and some others.


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