…and hard on the heels of authorial astrology, comes bookshelf psychoanalysis! The New Yorker’s book blog feature “The Subconscious Shelf” taps into that singular pleasure of scoping out other people’s bookshelves: readers submit photos of their libraries, and the blog’s contributors offer up lighthearted analyses of their tastes, concerns, aesthetics, and whatever else they can glean from their bibliophilic snapshots.
e.g. (on a photo featuring precariously free-standing towers of books) “The point is that while your system is aesthetically pleasing and features all the “right” authors—Updike, Agee, Chekhov, Keats, Capote, Orwell, and Roth, with a little Wells Tower thrown in—it does so at the expense of practicality and, furthermore, safety.” (har)
or, on the twin shelves of an engaged couple:
“Michael, you’ve got Heinrich von Kleist’s “The Marquise of O,” Kafka’s Complete Stories, a couple James Baldwins, and lots and lots of philosophy. This, coupled with Jessica’s above claim that you wanted to take the shortest route through your pre-marital counseling, leads me to believe you value rationality highly. Jessica’s books are perhaps a tad lighter in spirit, but still quite serious and thoughtfully selected—your collections complement each other.”
Once I get back home to my primary bookshelves, I’d be way tempted to be self-indulgent and submit a shot or two…