If I walked into someone’s house and saw a collection of their trophies on a shelf, I’d laugh. Shiny metal statues, a parody of the sports and activities they represent. Fortunately, I haven’t really seen that often. But I began to notice the equivalent that bookshelves have to the trophy case. Both are meant for public display, whether we admit it or not. Oh, please admire the depth of my quest for knowledge. If you still disagree, then keep your books boxed up or make a bookshelf closet. Yeah, it’s nicer to have them on display.
I’m absolutely guilty of this. There is a charm and mystique (and respect!) that comes with a well put together bookshelf. It’s no surprise that one of my favorite tumblr blogs is Bookshelf Porn. Books are a trophy of sorts. They are dated, dusty, often unmoved, and represent what we want to see and remember of ourselves. Yeah, I know. You just looooove to hold a book, smell the scent of the pages, the degradation of lignin… yeah yeah yeah we get it. I do too.
Man, I love my bookcases. I love the way they look, just as furniture alone, especially the matching pair of handmade ones I got from a relative. And honestly, the only person who has ever given my bookshelves more than a passing glance is my mom, so if I were arranging them in the hope of attracting awestruck compliments, I would have long ago fallen into despair and fed the books to the woodstove.
I’m sure there are people who buy books just as ego baubles, but one thing I’m proud of is that I only buy books I intend to read. If nothing else, I don’t have money to throw away on stage props for a nonexistent audience! But, yuh know, being fake doesn’t just mean striving for undeserved attention and praise. False modesty — like hiding a passion of yours away — is just as much a case of pretending to be someone you’re not.