Inspiration is the key!
Being a book lover, I cannot stop formulating book theories. I love the way books stand next to each other, how they form beautiful and colourful blocks and lines of concrete culture. As I observe them, I can’t help but think of the processes that brought those books on my shelves: how the idea for a novel formed in the writer’s mind, how it got published, how it depicts an imaginary world or displays photographs of a moment that is now past and gone (referring to the photography books here).
I also think about the processes that brought those books on my shelves in terms of personal interest: why did I find them interesting? What prompted me to buy “The Great Gatsby” or why have I purchased most of Virginia Woolf’s novels? Well, in this case the answers coincide: University courses. But I’ve grown to love them for different reasons.
To make a long story short, those books ended up in my shelves. But, don’t books tell a lot about their possessors depending on the place they have been left? For example, I have no novels here where I write. They’re all in my bedroom and all I have in front of me are books about food and recipes. There’s a logical explanation for that: they’re closer to the kitchen, perhaps.
But if I go to my room, I will notice how some of them left the shelves to land on my desk. What do those books say about me?
I moved them from the shelves to the desk because I intend to read more of those. Somehow, it’s like looking into a mirror, and I suggest you do the same. I know it’s barely self-psychoanalysis, but not only do your books tell you a lot about your interests, they’re probably also going to tell you something about your personality, about your needs, about plans you didn’t even think you were making!
I don’t think I’m wrong in trying to give books such power. They’re instruments of culture and they form, in my opinion, a close connection to their owner. They have been chosen among many, so when you bought them, you established a connection. It’s like getting a tattoo: you pick something that represents you, something you believe in, a symbol, or a name, or an image. In the same way (but less permanent, I guess), a book talks to its reader from the very first moment it’s opened.
It is my belief that a book shelf is a very exhaustive source of self-knowledge, but I suggest you focus on those books that have been moved to a location closer to their reader, as they have been picked among many and they can probably highlight something you did not even know about yourself! I, for instance, have among those books”A Haunted House” by Virginia Woolf, a book on the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood and a book about the visual arts of Twentieth Century dwell on my desk.
Of course, I know why I’m reading them. But why am I reading just those among all the ones I have? It could be that I want to find out more about the structure of short stories from Virginia Woolf’s “A Haunted House“, or I want to project myself in the period she wrote those stories, which is one of my strongest interests. To say that you’ve picked those among other for pure personal interest is a generalisation, an escape from the subconscious. There are more reasons, there are more connections, and they’re all for you to find out. Surely, they could help me figure out what it is that I really want to pursue in life, what my hobbies should be, what I really want to focus on. And probably, they could tell me much much more.