Andi commented on an NY Times article (about another article) on bookshelf etiquette. It was a rather tongue in cheek but the author's #1 rule caused some hubbub:
It is unacceptable to display any book in a public space of your home if you have not read it.
Srly!? What book snobbery! Imagine all the unread books relegated to closet shelves and pushed under beds. Poor books.
After some thought on the subject, I decided that the rule doesn't apply to us crazy book bloggers and friends of book bloggers. Like Jennifer Schuessler, more than 60% of my books are unread. I'm a book hoarder. I too collect books to read at some other point in time. Maybe not tomorrow but at some later date, possibly even a few years from now. I liked how Jennifer put it:
"an insurance policy against the day when electronic readers have taken over, all the world’s bookstores have gone out of business, and I have to barricade my door against virus-infested zombies who want to drink my blood and ravage my (unread) copy of “Daniel Deronda.” "
You just never know. But honestly I can't pass a "Sale" sign at the book store, or the library. $1 for War and Peace is a good deal when you consider the size of the thing.
I think the author of the original article was referring to those people who use books as ornamentation. They never actually plan on reading those books. They're there for show. Maybe he's afraid of being lumped into that category. I wouldn't be ashamed to say, "Haven't read it yet" about any of my books, because I am going to read them all. And yes I have read War & Peace but you won't find it on my bookshelves because it takes up valuable bookshelf space. It's just too honking big! It went directly to the used bookstore.
I've had my own book shelf war at home though. We bought a lovely bookcase for an empty corner of our living room. I thought, "Yay! More books." Hubby (the non-reader) thought, "Good, a place for all those darn knick knacks she has." I started piling the books upon it and was stopped by the hubby. He was probably afraid of the crazed look in my eye. He made up his own public space bookshelf rules:
-Only the 'pretty' books (sorry jacketless, tattered copy of Roots)
-A few of his engineering books had to make it onto the shelf. I guess to show that he has read at some point.
Well, it is his house too. I've been pretty good at keeping this bookshelf looking respectable. My private stash is something else. It's 3 rows deep. If a book can fit in a space, it will be filled. There is no rhyme or reason to how they are arranged. The shelves sag. Paperbacks and hardcovers live in harmony, read and unread alike.
So. How are your books displayed?