Sherlock Through the Keyhole

Earlier in the week, I posted a picture of one of my bookshelves. I’ve been thinking since then of what my bookcases might say about me. If someone had to draw up a personality profile of you simply by looking through your bookshelves, what might they guess about you? Would they be right?

Looking at my own library, taking a step back and putting on my deerstalker, I might hazard the following guesses:

  • One might first assume that there are children resident in the house, given the number of picture books on display. A closer glance, however, reveals that said picture books are in pristine condition. Children are therefore only (welcome) visitors in this home. (CORRECT)
  • Although the majority of titles are in the English language, other languages are also represented. One might assume that the reader is polylingual. However, the majority of titles in Polish, Irish, Slovenian, Hungarian, Croatian, Slovak, Spanish, Afrikaans, Italian, French and German appear to be translations of the Harry Potter series. The owner is most likely a collector rather than an accomplished linguist. (CORRECT, but, hey, I’m working on it)
  • Other than multiple copies of Harry Potter titles, and in spite of the large number of books, few titles are reproduced. The owner is organised and efficient when it comes to book buying. (Umm, umm, CORRECT, of course. But only because LibraryThing saved my life)
  • The number of books far exceeds the amount of shelf space. The owner is an impulsive book buyer with no control of her budget. (ABSOLUTELY NOT TRUE AT ALL, NOT EVEN A LITTLE BIT)

So, what might Sherlock deduce from your bookshelves?

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11 thoughts on “Sherlock Through the Keyhole

  1. excellent question! but let me add that I think what is NOT represented in my heaving bookcases also speaks volumes- no Sci-Fi, Horror, Erotic Lit…what there is besides an eclectic mix of ‘literary fiction’ are many travelogues and possibly every Dr Seuss’ book.

  2. Travel, Sci Fi, history, fantasy, building, gardening, interior design, carpentry, bits and bobs. Likes timber shelves. Well well, Haven’t taken stock like this before, but happy with what I see. Thank you for that view on viewing life. That was nice.

    1. I was pleased to notice that your list has a combination of the practical and genres that are perhaps less so. Isn’t it brilliant to think that some of today’s travel adventures would have been read as fantasy or science fiction in the past? Around the World in 80 days, anyone? And, at the same time, how some of the gardening or carpentry projects of the past still seem fantastical to us now. I’m thinking of mazes, like the one at Longleat, for example.
      I noticed your blog’s background image of the TCD booksale – I hope your timber shelves are sturdy enough to withstand the damage that sale does to the wallet each year!

      1. Some of the old travel books are better than can be got now. Used a 1903 Baedeckers for Siena and it was better than any on sale now (for history and buildings – not food and travel times – Florence is a quiet 10 hour cart ride away), but better info in general.

        1. I think I’d choose that cart ride over some of the public transport options I’ve experienced in Italy!
          I have a small collection of children’s travel guides from the 1960s. They’re hilarious but wonderful at the same time. Fantastic to see children being offered travel as a viable future, scary how political correctness has rewritten the landscape.

  3. Nice idea! I think Mr. Holmes’ vanity would be interested in the collection of his novels, which would no doubt suggest to him that the resident was a person of taste. (Naturally)
    The travel books and foreign language dictionaries probably speak for themselves, especially the dog-eared nature of some of them. (Of course)
    The presence of bookmarks in multiple books on the shelves might suggest that the owner has a habit of leaving things unfinished. (wholly unfair… or maybe a little)

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