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Bookcase Showcase: Author Dave Cousins

Dave Cousins Bookcase Showcase for The Overflowing Library

I should start with a confession: I have far too many books. While I’m genuinely worried that one day the weight of the overflowing library in our attic will mean that the attic is no longer actually in the attic, I’m reluctant to clear the shelves. I understand the argument “why keep that book if you’re never going to read it again?” But I still can’t do it. Because that was the book that made me and my mate Richard start our own detective agency; that was the one I hid inside on holiday as a grumpy teenager; and that one – with the cover falling apart – that’s the book that made me want to write. How could I throw any of them away? 

This is my Books To Read Bookcase. There are currently 63 books on here, and you can see from the picture that I’m running out of space. The problem is I’m a slow reader, and I know I’ll probably never get around to reading all of these, because I’m always adding new books to the pile. Next in the queue is Someone Else’s Life by my fellow Edge author, Katie Dale.
The two books propped up at the front are what I’m reading right now. An Abundance of Katherines by John Green is quirky, clever and laugh out loud funny – one of those books I’m enjoying so much I don’t want it to end. The other is the fourth in the Scott Pilgrim series of graphic novels by Bryan Lee O’Malley. My stepson introduced me to Scott Pilgrim via the film (which is brilliant) but the books have loads more in them. I love the artwork and the world view of these stories, and there are some great characters and hilarious dialogue.

I expect Scott and the John Green will end up here, on my Favourites Bookcase. This is where I keep my signed copies and some of the books that have meant a lot to me during my reading life. I put three of the most important face-out for the photo. Creepers by Keith Gray, Thunder and Lightnings by Jan Mark, and my favourite book of all time The Machine-Gunners by Robert Westall (that’s the original copy I read when I was twelve) These are three of the books that made me want to be an author and continue to inspire, as do those on the shelf below.
If you look carefully you’ll see a copy of the SCBWI Undiscovered Voices Anthology from 2010, which featured an extract from an early version of 15 Days Without a Head and was largely responsible for the fact that I am now a published author!

This is the same bookcase before I tidied up to take the picture. Note the packet of Scooby-Snacks that my author friend Sara Grant (Dark Parties) brought back from America for me. The Starsky and Hutch Matchbox car (another relic from my childhood) is parked on my name badge from a SCBWI conference. I make no apologies for the fact that I still get a buzz when I see my name next to the word “Author”! The white structure hanging between Sky Hawk and The Graveyard Book, is a bird cage model my step-daughter made as part of her GCSE art coursework. 

I spend my days writing in the attic. This bookcase takes up an entire gable end. On most shelves there’s another row behind the one that’s visible. There’s no real system to what ends up here. I can see books that should be on the favourites bookcase and some I haven’t read yet. The boxes and envelopes are old manuscripts and the big brown thing bottom right is a stereo speaker my dad made in the seventies. Note the Scooby-Doo Mystery Machine – a Christmas present from my son, which also served as the 15 Days Without a Head Blog Tour Bus! I’ve also just spotted a Reader’s Digest DIY book and a manual for the music software I used to use when the attic briefly doubled as a recording studio!

This is the Reference Bookcase at the side of my writing desk and is comparatively well organised – under the watchful eye of The Book Pig. He once belonged to my nan, who was a great reader. The bottom shelf is mainly books about writing and language, while the top one is general reference. I can spot a book about the weather and different dialects spoken across Britain. The three books on the left are Reader’s Digest volumes of Birds, Trees and Wild Flowers, though I don’t think I’ve ever opened them. The notebooks on the top are all full.

Finally … The Toilet Shelf. Apologies to those who consider reading in the toilet bad taste. My family and I find it an ideal time for contemplation of a good book, which is why we always keep a good supply on hand. There is an eclectic range of reading material here, from a volume of modern poetry and the QI Book of General Ignorance to a collection of record covers and a manga graphic novel. And of course, no bookcase would be complete without Calvin and Hobbes. In whom, Bill Watterson created two of the finest characters and some of the greatest stories ever to grace the printed page.

Thanks to Kirsty for inviting me onto The Overflowing Library, and to you for taking a tour of my bookcases. Apologies for the mess!

15 Days Without a Head by Dave Cousins, is out now in paperback, published by Oxford University Press.