In the fantasy version of my life, I have a vast and beautiful library filled with floor to ceiling bookshelves. In real life, space is at a premium and when I moved house last year I had to get rid of A LOT of books. My criteria for holding onto a book is if I answer ‘yes’ to either of the following questions:
- Do I like it enough to want to read it again at some point?
- Do I like it enough to lend it to a friend?
It it’s a no, then off to the charity shop it has to go.
Although I adore reading I don’t tend to form emotional attachments to physical books. I don’t own physical copies of three of my favourite books of all time: Prep by Curtis Sittenfeld (borrowed from the library), The Best of Everything by Rona Jaffe (read on kindle) and The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold (lent out and never returned). I’m also quite impatient and enjoy the immediacy of purchasing an ebook and being able to dive in straightaway. I think this lack of sentimentality comes across in my bookshelves. They’re quite functional with no particular order or theme; I just aim to keep them vaguely neat and try to remember to dust them every so often.
In my new place, most of my adult books are kept on a bookshelf in the living room. Favourites titles include The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters, One Day by David Nicholls and anything by Kate Atkinson. Here you’ll also find a few classics, a variety of travel books and the odd bit of non-fiction, plus a selection of DVDs.
My YA collection can be found in my bedroom. You can’t see everything I’ve got because I’m a double stacker.
As you’ll probably notice my shelves are dominated by contemporary YA reads. This is what I write and also what I tend to enjoy reading the most. I try to keep my TBR pile separate but inevitably everything gets a bit mixed up.
This shelf features a mix of old favourites, more recent stuff I’ve read and loved, and titles I haven’t quite got round to yet. On the far right is Starring Sally J Freedman As Herself – my all-time favourite Judy Blume book. I was giddy with excitement to get this copy signed by Judy when she in London in 2015. Next to it is a bumper edition of the first three books in the prolific Sweet Valley High series. As a teenager, I devoured the adventures of beautiful Californian twins Jessica and Elizabeth Wakefield. They’ve dated pretty badly but I still can’t shift my affection for them. The majority of my collection is at my parent’s house in Nottingham but I couldn’t resist sneaking at least one of them onto my shelf. These childhood favourites mingle with Holly Bourne’s brilliant Spinster Club series, Jandy Nelson’s equally stunning titles The Sky Is Everywhere and I’ll Give You The Sun, and the beyond charming Jessica’s Ghost by Andrew Norriss. In the TBR pile are Fallen Children by David Owen, Wed Rabbit by Lissa Evans and Unconventional by Maggie Harcourt.
At my old house, I had all the foreign editions of The Art of Being Normal mounted in display cases on the wall. Here, they’re all jammed in, along with copies of All About Mia and I’ll Be Home for Christmas (a short story anthology I contributed to in 2016). When I get the time, I’m going to find a nicer way to display them. They’re currently being watched over my Scrufters the dog. I found Scrufters stuck to the ice on a petrol station forecourt in Norway and he’s guarded over my bookshelves ever since.
I love how colourful my shelves are, not only the books but the shelves themselves (discovered in the kids section at Ikea!). Again, this shelf represents a bit of a mix, from absolute favourites (Lobsters by Tom Ellen and Lucy Ivison, Everyday by David Levithan and Natasha Farrant’s Bluebell Gadsby series), to stuff I’m longing to get round to reading like If I Was Your Girl by Meredith Russo and Monsters by Emerald Fennell. So many books, so little time…