Monday, 18 May 2015

The Bookshelf Tag

Yesterday I was away at the Loch Fyne Food Festival (yum) so I’ve not had as much time for blogging as normal. Luckily for me, a couple of the blogs that I follow (The Book Coop & Ashleigh Muses) posted The Bookshelf Tag on their blogs the other week, which I ferretted away for a day such as this.

1. Describe your bookshelf (or wherever it is you keep your books – it doesn’t actually have to be a shelf!) and where you got it from.

I currently have two bookshelves (which are in the living room), the main one is a big sturdy pine display unit with two big drawers in the bottom. It came from a local furniture recycling place for about £30. It’s not technically a bookcase but it’s got these lovely deep shelves which means I can get two rows of books to a shelf (plus the drawers hold magazines and all Mr Click’s cookery books). Mr Click has a shelf and a half here, my Tolkien books occupy another, hardbacks are on the bottom shelf and everything else slots in where it can.

My other bookcase is my ‘Children’s Bookcase’ which holds most of my children’s/young adult books. It was an absolute bargain, picked up by Mr Click for a mere £5! When I was little I had a white bookcase in my bedroom which held all of my books, so this one has kind of taken over the role of that bookcase. The recycling place we got it from painted it white; if you look carefully in a couple of patches you can tell it used to be a garish pink colour.

I’ve also got a ‘book cupboard’ in Tara’s bedroom (an alcove off our living room). This holds books I’ve recently finished which I might want to look at again or books which I intend to read again in the future. At the moment it’s got the Harry Potter series in it; before that the Discworld books lived there. The book cupboard was part of my bedroom furniture when I moved to Scotland. It’s a basic Littlewoods bit of furniture. The drawers are falling to pieces, the cupboard handles have been replaced (and still keep coming off!) but it’s handy all the same.

Upstairs I’ve got a cupboard with five or six boxes and plastic tubs of books. As I don’t have enough room to get them all out on my bookshelves at once, they have to go out on a rotational basis. About once or twice a year I pull them all out, pile them up, sort through them and rearrange the shelves. It’s great fun!

2. Do you have any special or different way of organising your books?

I do have a system. On the children’s bookcase the books are sorted by series (so I’ve got The Edge Chronicles, two Blue Balliett books, the Myth series) and then individual books are grouped together afterwards in no particular order.

My main bookcase is a little bit more complicated, especially because of the doubly-loaded shelves. The top and middle back rows are single books, sorted alphabetically by author; the top front row is all Tolkien (or books about Tolkien) with a random Neil Gaiman and Douglas Adams books squeezed in at the end. The front middle is for Mr Click’s detective books, some of these have spilled into the row behind as well, I’ve also added my Penguin Little Black Classics to the end of this row.

The bottom row is a bit of a jumble. The biggest and heaviest books live down here, so we’ve got a couple more Tolkien ones (like the illustrated editions of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings), The Complete Works of Lewis Carroll, The Illustrated Stratford Shakespeare and the Earth’s Children books rubbing shoulders with the Colin Dexter Morse books (more overflow from Mr Click’s shelf) and a couple of biographies.

The book cupboard is used for pretty much anything, but again they’re sorted into series and the boxes upstairs are usually by author or genre (so all the Terry Pratchett books are in one box, all the Tolkien ones in another, young adult/children’s books in yet another, etc.).

3. What’s the thickest (most amount of pages) book on your shelf?

Not counting the ones on my Kindle, or any of the ones up in boxes upstairs, it’s my illustrated edition of The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien, clocking in at 1193 pages (not including the additional map pages at the back).

The Illustrated Stratford Shakespeare should get a special mention though. It’s got just over 1020 pages, but the text is in columns on the pages in fairly small print, so if it was full size it’d probably be over 2000!

4. What’s the thinnest (least amount of pages) book on your shelf?

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them by J.K. Rowling with just forty-two pages. It’s only still on my bookcase because I was working through the additional Harry Potter books so if I’d gotten around to moving it to the cupboard it would be either The Adventures of Tom Bombadil or a tie between the Penguin Little Black Classics, which all have around sixty pages.

[Edit: I lied. I’ve actually got two poetry pamphlets which are thinner than all of these How To Hug and Other Poems by Susie Maguire, and The Hungry Ghost Festival by Jen Campbell, both of which have thirty-two pages.]

5. What’s the smallest (height and width wise) book on your shelf?

Roverandom by J.R.R. Tolkien. It’s a little squarish book, shorter than a regular paperback and not quite as wide.

6. What’s the biggest (height and width wise) book on your shelf?

Definitely The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien (illustrated edition again). It’s a real brick of a book. You need two hands to lift it and it’s kind of impossible to read lying down in bed!

7. Is there a book from a friend on your shelf?

Yes, a few. The Hungry Ghost Festival not only came from my friend Jen, it’s written by her too; I’ve got The Tiny Wife by Andrew Kaufman which came to me via Jen and one of the competitions she ran on HTV. I’ve also got Raising Steam by Terry Pratchett which was sent to me by Pempi at Pempi’s Palace. There’s Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte which came from a Secret Santa exchange on a forum I used to be active on. There are plenty of others which have come from friends, which are safe away in boxes upstairs as well. I’ve got lots of friends who know me very well.

8. Most expensive book?

Probably one of my Tolkien ones. I’ve got a first edition (third imprint) of The Silmarillion as well as the three volume edition of The History of Middle-earth which were about £150 to buy (not including the separate index book). I know that the illustrated editions of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings are also pretty pricy.

9. The last book you read on your shelf?

A Strange Eventful History by Michael Holroyd which is also one of my heftier books from the bottom shelf.

10. Off all the books on your shelf, which was the first your read?

Probably When We Were Very Young, Now We Are Six by A.A. Milne. It’s been on my bookcase forever and I think I must’ve had it since I was about four (it was published in 1989 so that’s about right). It’s the same edition as well, though we’re both looking a bit worse for wear now.

11. Do you have more than one copy of a book?

Oh yes! I have multiple editions of various Tolkien books (though not all of them are out on the bookcases at the one time). I’ve got two editions of The Silmarillion (my fancy first edition and a paperback which is for actual reading), ditto The Children of Hurin.

The Hobbit is in my collection five times (battered old paperback which belonged to my brother, paperback from the 60s, more modern paperback, fantasy book club hardback and illustrated edition). The Lord of the Rings is in the collection six times (paperback which was published the year I was born, three volume edition, single volume edition with virtually no appendices in it, fantasy book club hardback, illustrated edition and Kindle edition).

Other books have some duplicates too; The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett (signed hardback and a battered paperback for reading), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling (UK edition and USA edition), Chasing Vermeer (paperback copy with a printing error and hardback signed by author and illustrator which I received for pointing out the printing error).

12. Do you have the complete series of any book series?

Oh yes! I’ve got all the Harry Potter books (as well as the tie-in books), A Series of Unfortunate Events (as well as two of the tie-in books), all of the Walter Moers Zamonia books which have been translated into English, the Twilight books (purely for blogging reasons), Tolkien books (again) and Mr Click has all the Morse books (which are on my bookcase so get a mention).

13. What’s the newest addition to your shelf?

A four-way tie from when we went shopping in Oban: Becoming Bindy Mackenzie by Jaclyn Moriarty, The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky, The Last Sherlock Holmes Story by Michael Dibdin (one of Mr Click’s but again, on my bookcase) and yet another edition of The Hobbit.

14. What book has been on your shelf FOREVER?

Many of the one’s on my Children’s Bookcase; The Endless Steppe by Esther Hautzig (which I’ve had since I was about twelve), Zlata’s Diary by Zlata Filipovic (from about the same time), A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett (which I’ve had since I was about seven, I got that edition as a birthday present), Becky Bananas by Jean Ure (since I was ten or eleven), Golden Apples Poems for Children edited by Fiona Waters (since I was maybe eightish), and of course the aforementioned When We Were Very Young, Now We Are Six by A.A. Milne.

I’ve got plenty up in the cupboard upstairs which I’ve had going back that far again, like Winnie the Pooh and The Wind in the Willows which have been in my possession ever since I was tiny.

15. What’s the most recently published book on your bookshelf?

An eleven-way tie between the books from the Penguin Little Black Classics collection. They’re all short stories or extracts from the works of famous authors, although the original material was published way in the past, these editions were all published this year.

16. The oldest book on your shelf (as in, the actual copy is old)?

My copy of Jane Eyre looks pretty old and I can’t actually see a date in it. I think my oldest book with an actual date in it is probably The Adventures of Tom Bombadil which was published in the early sixties. There are older books in my collection upstairs.

17. A book you won?

Two which I’ve already mentioned; The Tiny Wife by Andrew Kaufman and How to Hug and Other Poems by Susie Maguire, both through Jen’s book giveaways. Bonus mention should go to Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett which I didn’t strictly speaking win, but it was sent to me (with another book) after I wrote to the publishing company to let them know about a printing error in the paperback edition.

18. A book you’d hate to let out of your sight (a.k.a. a book you never let someone borrow)?

My copy of The Silmarillion from my Grampy or my signed Terry Pratchett’s. Actually, any of my signed books, come to think of it.

19. Most beat up book?

One that’s not actually on my bookcase at the moment because it’s in forced retirement (lest it completely disintegrate), it’s the edition of The Lord of the Rings that was published the same year that I was. I spent ten years (on and off) trying to read it so it’s been dragged all over the place… I may have sat on it a few times since it’s a good chunk of a book. I used it in an English exam so it had notes stuck in loads of the pages and the cover has been taped back on at least once. It’s in a very sorry state now.

20. Most pristine book?

The trio of volumes of The History of Middle-earth. They’re printed on ‘bible paper’ so I have special cotton gloves to use when I look at them. And they’re always placed on cushions, pillows or a beanbag when I want to look at them so that the spines don’t get cracked. Yes, I’m that careful with them!

21. A book from your childhood?

When We Were Very Young, Now We Are Six has already been mentioned, but I’ve also got A Little Princess (which I used to ‘play’ when I was younger, pretending I was Sara and forced to clean the school whilst living in the attic). I’ve also got Becky Bananas by Jean Ure (who was one of my favourite authors as a pre-teen, I was thrilled when I got to meet her) and although I lost my copy of The BFG at some point, I found a copy in a charity shop a few years back and so that’s back on my bookcase.

22. A book that’s not actually your book?

I’m not borrowing any books at the moment, so I’ll just point at the shelf and a bit which contains Mr Click’s books. Most of those were bought for him, I just happen to dip into them from time to time. These include all the Morse books, some Ian Rankin ones, some Hamish Macbeth books and a bunch of books (by various authors) featuring Sherlock Holmes.

23. A book with a special/different cover (e.g. leather bound, soft fuzzy cover, etc.)?

There aren’t really any with special covers out on display at the moment, but the most special cover I have is the cloth-bound classics edition of Jabberwocky. It’s so pretty. Though since I read it a while ago, it’s been relocated in order to make room for books I’ve not yet read!

24. A book that is your favourite colour?

Rumo by Walter Moers. It’s a bright lime green which is what drew me to it when I saw it in the charity shop where I bought it. The Wide Window is also a particularly nice shade of green, as is The Grim Grotto, both by Lemony Snicket.

25. Book that’s been on your shelf the longest that you STILL haven’t read?

I’ve been carting around a copy of The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell for years and it keeps getting bumped up and down my list. I even downloaded a Kindle version, just in case that made me more inclined to read it. It didn’t.

26. Any signed books?

I have a little collection of signed books:
  1. Suffer Little Children by Elizabeth West
  2. Becky Bananas by Jean Ure (who I met when she visited my school)
  3. The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents by Terry Pratchett (who I met and he signed it to me ‘with cheese’)
  4. A Hat Full of Sky also by Terry Pratchett
  5. There and Back Again: An Actor’s Tale by Sean Astin
  6. Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett and illustrated by Brett Helquit (signed by both)

Hope you’ve enjoyed this little trip through my bookshelves. I’m not really one for tagging other bloggers in things, but if you feel like participating, leave a comment to link to your own post below. :-)


  1. I'm a librarian, so it probably won't surprise you that I have my fiction in strict A-Z order and my non-fiction in rough Dewey Decimal order. It means I can find anything but my husband always has to ask!
    Anabel's Travel Blog
    Adventures of a retired librarian

    1. Hehe, that doesn't surprise me at all. That's a very sensible way to organise your books.

      When I was at uni and I had lots of non-fiction books, I had them in order of which days my classes were on. Dewey Decimal works too. ;-)

  2. I counted a few years ago and I had close to 2000 books on my bookshelves. Now there's more and some in boxes. I need a bigger place. This was a great post and I might just have to do one of my own.

    1. Wow! That's quite a collection. I'd love to see your Bookshelf Tag, I hope you do take part. :-)

  3. I don't know why I missed this post - it's wonderful and gives such a great insight into your reading likes and history of reading :) It is also special to know how important When We Were Young & Now We are Six are to you as my volume given to me by my late grandma is probably the book I would take with me to a desert island if I could only choose one book. I also like it that you have a bookcase dedicated to "children's books" as I do too. I am smiling from ear to ear - as I said a wonderful post :)

    1. Glad you enjoyed it. It was a really fun post to write, even if there was a lot of jumping up and down to examine books on my bookcase.

      It's funny how certain books just worm their way onto your bookcase and then never leave. When We Were Young... (along with a handful of others) has been one of the bookshelf constants for as long as I can remember.

      Someday I hope to move that 'children's books' bookcase up into the spare bedroom for an actual child to enjoy, but even if that happens, I think I'll have to get myself another 'children's bookcase' to replace it. ;-)


Let me know what you think. :-)