I’d like to talk today about bookcase judging – not judgement on the quality of the bookcases themselves, you understand … but the contents thereof. In this current lock-down period, there’s been an explosion of communication by video, resulting in our personal space being on display to all manner of person – both personal and professional.
I thought I’d ask some questions after I caught an online discussion complaining that the public at large were ignoring the actual content of a political interview, being focused instead on the contents of the politician’s bookcase.
Now, I’ll admit having previously checked out the background in photographs & training videos, to see if I can recognise what’s on bookcases – especially when I’m a bit bored – but not with any intent to judge, more because I’m interested in a vast variety of reading material, and never tire of adding to my overwhelming To Be Read pile.
But then I remembered a book club friend browsing my bookcases when I first hosted one of our gatherings, and my wondering what impression he’d gained from that experience, as it contained almost none of my favourite fictional reads. I largely read fiction on an e-reader, so this is what currently appears on my bookcases …
- Hardbacks – that I can’t bear to part with, intend to read again, or I’ve yet to read
- Paperbacks – that I intend to read again, or I’ve yet to read
- Professional books on the subject of coaching, counselling, psychology & self-development
- Books on the craft of writing
- Training materials from professional courses attended within the last 5 years
- Photograph albums going back to the days of film when I still printed photographs
- Essential oils – my wide collection of single oils & blends, together with diffusers, burners, spray & roller bottles, and associated literature
- My collection of Spanish porcelain – significantly curated down in size since the last house move, as apparently Himself finds them creepy (he has a thing about faces watching him)
- Frames containing reasonably current family photos
- DVDs of films & TV series – to watch or re-watch – including my shame viewing pleasure Dawson’s Creek 😉
- Camera-related bits & bobs, including Himself’s antique Russian camera
- 8 box-files containing my filing
Lastly, I had a moment of wondering how much Himself’s books on all things militaria and WWII may have caused me to be judged, especially as they appear right behind me during video calls. For while there’s no copies of Mein Kampf or Mao’s Little Red Book, the glass skull and the (deactivated) hand grenade being used as bookends might surely raise the odd eyebrow.
It got me to wondering whether people curate the background of their video calls, or whether they just have a tidy up? An alternative view could be to give it absolutely no thought, on the basis that people are jolly lucky to be let into your home – however virtually – so they can take you as they find you.
Which school of thought do you fall in to? What story do you think the contents of your bookcases might tell about you?
© Debra Carey, 2020