I have the self discipline to keep myself from peeking in a friend’s medicine cabinet, even their liquor cabinet, but when it comes to bookshelves, I have to hover and peruse. What does this person like? Do they have books I have read? Books I want to read? Strange books? Runs on fiction by a single author?
Flickr is a photo service that lends itself to socializing by sharing annotated images. One Flickr image descriptor, or tag, that has taken on a life of its own is the “bookshelf” tag. Follow the link and you’ll see lots of pictures of people’s bookshelves. Some of them are even annotated with little callouts. Some are organized by color. Of course, the books you read and the books you show people are often two very different things. Predictably, some bookshelves are pretentious. Have you really picked up that book since your philosophy class? Did you even read it then?
I love shelves lined with puzzling books, disturbing books, tempting books. Looking at all these pictures makes me want to go organize my books and take some snapshots. Then again, moving books is work; building a virtual version of your library may be the next best thing. A company called Delicious Monster has cooked up something (for the Mac only right now) called Delicious Library that lets you create virtual shelves filled your favorite bookly booty, CDs, and DVDs. I wouldn’t mind having something like this, but this particular company seems to have swallowed a few too many wacky pills. So I’ll wait.