“A bookshelf is as particular to its owner as are his or her clothes; a personality is stamped on a library just as a shoe is shaped by the foot."
― Alan Bennett
I have a confession. I am a voyeur. A book voyuer. If I am ever a guest at someone’s house, and I see a collection of books, I cannot resist quietly edging my way toward them to browse and get the measure of my host. Perhaps their shelves are full of hardened crime fiction or sweeping romances or bloody horror or epic fantasy. None of that matters. Whatever their tastes, it is always satisfying and fascinating to meet someone with a book collection and discover what worlds he or she loves to get lost in.
I love books. I always have. A book is the gateway to another world. It is the beating heart and emotions of the person whose story you are following. Books are more than paper and ink. Books have life. Books enrich life. They make us happy, they make us sad, they make us angry. They educate us and help us understand other lives, cultures and emotions. Books are just so blimmin’ important, they make me want to explode with excitement! So, from that you may conclude that I form emotional attachments to them. Yes i do! I love ‘em and I collect the books I love. Oh yes, I do.
So let’s say I am hosting some people at my house and a fellow book voyuer browses my shelves. What would they find?
He/she would discover an eclectic mix of genre titles, mostly hardback with dust wrappers covered in protective plastic. I know, I know! What is all that about? Well, preservation actually. All of my hard book books are first editions and some are signed. This does not mean I have loads of money - I certainly don’t. I find these books all over the place and they are not as expensive as you might think. I am also a member of the Goldsboro Books Book of the Month Club, which I highly recommend. For a minimal monthly fee you receive a lauded new title in the post, which is always a signed first edition. Some can double, even triple, their value, which is amazing.
In this bookshelf above there is quite a mix. There is crime (Robert Galbraith, Steig Larsson), fantasy (Tolkien, Martin), YA (Horowitz, Rowling). There is also a poetry anthology by Carol Anne Duffy and great titles by Sarah Waters and Ken Follet, two authors I really admire. On the bottom shelf is a lovely piece of coral(far left) and on the right, an antique ink bottle nestling beside a replica astrolabe, an ancient device featured in my debut YA novel, Sleeper.
This cabinet sits in the front of my living room and contains some very special books, one or two I have yet to read. The truth is I buy more books than I am able to catch up with!
Inside this cabinet of delights is a beautiful copy of A Little Life, by Hanya Yanagihara, a heart wrenching story of four friends in New York, which I could not put down. Another favourite is The North Water, by Ian McGuire, a fast paced tale of an ill fated Yorkshire whaling ship bound for the Arctic CIrcle - a gripping thriller that I cannot wait to read again. I also loved Pierce Brown’s Red Rising trilogy, an explosive, science fiction action adventure. There are two wonderful gifts from my partner I will always treasure: a first edition of They, by Rudyard Kipling and the big yellow book box on the bottom shelf is a gorgeous special edition of Dracula.
As a child I loved Herge’s Adventures of Tintin. I am building a collection of UK first editions, which is taking some time, as they are not easy to find and can be over priced. There are many great books here but some final notable titles include The Kite Runner, The Boy with the Striped Pyjamas, When the Wind Blows. All wonderful books that have left a lasting mark on me.
I really hope you have enjoyed this snapshot of my book collection. Thank you Kirsty for hosting me.
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