Not Anyone’s Bookshelf

We’ve all had the experience of someone new in our lives checking out our CD collections (when such things still existed) or what was on our bookshelves, and feeling the need to explain that the John Grisham was a gift and that you weren’t sure how the Hanson Brothers got in there.  But people look because they’re looking for insight and a shelf full of books can provide that.  The ones in rented spaces cannot.  In summer cottages that get let on the weekends, furnished apartments rented for longer terms to transient workers, in the occasional inn, the books on the shelves only tell you the owner couldn’t bring themselves to throw out what was readily discarded by the passing occupants.  The books themselves are a fascinating cross-section of the “people who came before”.  That someone who read The Picador Book of Sports Writing once slept in the same bed as the readers of Last Tango in Toulouse and The Hours.  Presumably not at the same time.  I’m now staying in a place with such a bookshelf and while I would likely have passed by The Best that Man Can Get had it been in bookstore or a library, the fact that it sits there by the bed I now, too, occupy provides it a certain notice.  But I’ll still likely give the sports writing book a pass.

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