Shelf Lives

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You know you’ve done it– walked into a dorm only to wince at shelf bereft except for core texts, felt an instant kinship with someone after glancing at their dog-eared copy of Infinite Jest, or discovered a friend’s closet nerd when confronted with a ledge full of Game of Thrones and Lord of the Rings books. In our new feature, Shelf Lives, we invite you to  judge from the comfort of your desk, and try your hand at matching anonymous owners to the contents of their shelves, using only their responses to our super intensive literary questions. If you know of a shelf we should check out, send us an email at [email protected] Happy Matching!

Exhibit A: Tall, dark, and handsome

What’s your favorite book smell?

Person 1: Moldy.

Person 2: The smell of photographs in really old books.

Person 3: Library.

Can you give us a brief history of your current bookshelf collection, and how it was organized?

Person 1: This shelf is non-school related (given away by the bar occupying a good fourth of the shelf space) and therefore only holds personal reading. Some of the books I have read, others sit perennially on the shelf awaiting their turn. The coffee table books and magazines serve to occasionally yield inspiration, or, at the very least, fruitful procrastination. The shelf itself, despite its interesting shape, is not particularly meant for actually holding books it seems, and so organization is slave to the weird design.

Person 2: These are all the books I’ve accumulated while in college. They’re mostly from classes, but I have a terrible weakness for the discount section of Book Culture (it’s sort of inconspicuously stacked on the stairs). The top shelf is all Core stuff (and arranged by publisher), the next shelf is history—my major—and books are grouped more or less by class, and the rest are literature, magazines, odds and ends which were alphabetical at some point.

Person 3: There are sort of three distinct groups: my favorites, required class reading, and things I’d like to read. And coffee supplies. It’s mostly organized by size, but the required books are organized by course. And there’s a small poetry area.

Exhibit B: Throwbackshelf

Where do you stand on eBooks?

Person 1: They’re criminal.

Person 2: I like to print them if they’re assigned for classes. I don’t have any kind of device to read them on so they’re not that useful.

Person 3: I don’t do that.

What’s the one book/thing that should be on everyone’s bookshelf? What’s something that should never be on a bookshelf, ever?

Person 1: Every bookshelf should have interesting book ends—mine, though currently bookending a carafe of rye, are antique pedestrian crossing signs from France. No book shelf should ever have books you don’t intend to read; if you want them, store them, if not, find someone who does.

Person 2: Winnie-the-Pooh—it contains all the essential life lessons; I don’t want to see empty space, the books will get lonely!

Person 3: This question sets me up to sound pretentious. I’m not sure, really. It’s always nice to see Infinite Jest, just because that’s a book that everyone who’s read it can kind of commiserate/gush over. I don’t know that they should never be on bookshelves ever, but every time I see The Fountainhead or Atlas Shrugged on a bookshelf it sort of freaks me out.

Exhibit C: Carefully cluttered

Which literary figure would you most like to have lunch with? Which literary figure would you most like to have sex with?

Person 1: Lunch- Doc Sportello, Sex- Remedios the Beauty (Love a girl with a dirty mouth).

Person 2: Lunch with W. Somerset Maugham, sex with Italo Calvino or Virginia Woolf (or both?!?!?!).

Person 3: Thomas Pynchon and Cervantes would both make for good lunches, I think. And Shakespeare. As for sex, probably Sylvia Plath.

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  1. OMG

    Person 2, you read Italo Calvino?? Marry me!!

  2. Anonymous  

    this was fun to read--bwog should do more of these.

    also LOL at the person who said Sylvia Plath

  3. Anonymous  

    Person 3 is B?

  4. ...  

    if you go home with someone and the only books on their shelves were required reading for a class, don't fuck them.

  5. LOGIC  

    Exhibit A is not Person

  6. interesting.

    This reminds me of an model essay that was distributed in my University Writing section.

  7. Ron Paul 2012


  8. omg  

    I will have sex with anyone who wants to have sex with Calvino and Woolf. Freaking out!

  9. just sayin'  

    everyone wants to have lunch with men, women are only there for sex?

  10. Lulz  

    Anyone who has Ayn Rand and GQ on his shelf is trying too hard.

    - CC '12

  11. Anonymous

    A = 1, B = 3, C = 2

    (It's easy to C that's you, CS.)

  12. Anonymous  

    wait I really like this

  13. CC 2013  

    Not trying to be critical because this seems pretty cool, but why have there been no senior wisdoms this year?

  14. Scientist

    Where are all of your real textbooks? My shelf is full of pchem and physics!

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