The two ‘sets’ that I would never be without are The Complete Works of Jane Austen and The Georgia Nicolson Diaries.
The Austen was given to me by my mum on my 18th birthday, because she had been given a fancy set of Austen novels on her 18th birthday. I plan on giving a set to my future son/daughter on their 18th. If they protest and say ‘what’s my real present?’ or ‘can I just have the money?’ then I will just follow them round reading from the books until, whether or not they like them, they will have read them. Not that I am saying you should impose your book views on people (I AM).
The Louise Rennison books are the funniest books I’ve ever read. You only have to say to me ‘guess what I’m dancing in?’ and I will reply ‘a bowl??’ and drift off into happy reading memories. My copy of the final book – Are These My Basoomas I See Before Me? – is signed!
I collect old-looking books and put them on my old-looking writing desk. It makes me feel a bit like I’ve gone back in time.
My bookshelf is not categorised or ordered in any way and I like that if I took a picture of any part of it I would get a random mix of books. I review children’s books for Armadillo magazine and so on most of the shelves you will find a proof or two. I find proof copies of books very exciting – you are getting to read it before everyone else and you can imagine it is a book made just for you.
I also like to imagine all these very different books having to hang out together and make conversation, just because I have forced them to sit next to each other. For instance, A History of Ancient Egypt would have to talk to Mr Darcy’s Diary, The Book of Margery Kempe (the autobiography of a medieval Christian mystic) and Penny Dreadful. I imagine Margery causing an awkward silence by having one of her visions, before Penny breaks the tension with some well-meaning yet disastrous antics. A History of Ancient Egypt tries to instigate a serious debate and then after a few drinks asks Mr Darcy’s Diary what it was like to film the wet shirt scene.
Popping up at regular intervals on the shelf are The Books I Haven’t Read Yet. Dotting them about makes it less daunting than having them in a pile. It also means I can go to a random point on the shelf and always find something new and unread!