Thursday, July 20, 2006

Which Authors Dominate Your Bookshelves?


I did reorganize my books. I mixed the fiction and poetry together, arranged alphabetically by author, then added in any essays, journals, diaries, letters, and biographies by or about the authors. I kept the children’s literature in its own section but there too I integrated other material by or about the authors. The rest of the non-fiction is still divided into various sections by subject.

The chief drawback of the reorganization is that my books seem to have multiplied in the process. When I was done, all of the bookcases were full, yet my travel and art books were homeless, sitting in stacks on the dining room floor. I either had to get rid of some books or get another bookcase. I’m sure you can guess which option I chose. I thought I’d run out of wall space, but I got out the tape measure and figured out that I could squeeze one more bookcase into my office. The deed is done now: one more bookcase, bought, built and filled. As you can see from the photo above, I seem to have transformed my office into a library.

There are two things that I particularly like about the new arrangement. First, I think I’m much more likely to delve into the poetry books now as these generally slim volumes are much easier to see when they’re interspersed with thick novels and biographies than they were all squashed together in a clump. Second, as I anticipated, it’s very satisfying to see all of the books related to individual authors lined up next to one another. Here are the authors who dominate my bookshelves (arbitrarily defined as those whom I own five or more books by or about): Margaret Atwood, Elizabeth Barrett Browning, Robertson Davies, Emily Dickinson, H.D., Neil Gunn, Margaret Laurence, Mary McCarthy, Alice Munro, Anais Nin, Sylvia Plath, Jean Rhys, Muriel Spark, Robert Louis Stevenson, J.R.R. Tolkien, and Virginia Woolf. In the children’s literature section, there are even more authors that meet the criteria given the preponderance of series books in my collection: Louisa May Alcott, Lloyd Alexander, L. Frank Baum, Judy Blume, Enid Blyton, Susan Cooper, Elizabeth Enright, Madeleine L’Engle, C.S. Lewis, Maud Hart Lovelace, Lucy Maud Montgomery, E. Nesbit, J.K. Rowling, Noel Streatfeild, P.L. Travers, and Laura Ingalls Wilder. In the non-fiction sections, only these heavyweights qualify: Louis Althusser, Michel Foucault, Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, and Karl Marx.

Which authors dominate your bookshelves?

15 comments:

melmoth said...

Authors dominating my bookshelf: Kobo Abe, Roland Barthes, J.G. Ballard, Raymond Chandler, Philip K. Dick, Harlan Ellison, bpNichol, Richard Powers, Alain Robbe-Grillet, Nathalie Sarraute, Claude Simon, Gilbert Sorrentino.

Ex Libris said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one with reorganization dilemmas! Authors that dominate: Joyce Carol Oates, Ray Bradbury, Anthony Trollope, Margaret Atwood, Charles Dickens, Edith Wharton, Margaret Drabble, A.S. Byatt, Saul Bellow, Hilary Mantel, Iris Murdoch, George Eliot, Jane Urquhart.

AC said...

I love that picture.

Dominating authors on my shelf (almost typed "myself"): Marcel Proust, Thomas Hardy, Philip Roth, Leo Tolstoy, Vladimir Nabokov, W. Somerset Maugham.

Wow, I'm quite the sexist/chauvinist. Better work on that....

Todd said...

Authors dominating my bookshelves: Hemingway, Faulkner, Frank Conroy, Denis Johnson, Tom Grimes, Larry McMurtry. (All males, I know. I wish I could add Francine Prose and Jane Smiley, but I don't meet the more than five books criteria; actually, I have to delete Denis Johnson, and Grimes because I only have four of their books, if I'm recalling correctly.)

sfp said...

I love your shelves, Kate!

Dominating authors: Anne Tyler, Margaret Atwood, Margaret Drabble, Iris Murdoch, Bill Watterson, Larry McMurtry, Jane Smiley. Rebecca West should be a dominating force by fall.

Victoria said...

Domination by: Margaret Atwood, Virginia Woolf, Jeanette Winterson, Carol Emschwiller, Guy Gavriel Kay, Jane Austen, George R. R. Martin, George Eliot, Dorothy Dunnett... :-)

I really wish I had the space to have all my books out on shelves. As it is they're packed away in dozens of boxes...this makes me sad. :-(

litlove said...

I spent far too long considering this today. Domination by Margaret Atwood, Julian Barnes, Anita Brookner, Alice Thomas Ellis, Penelope Fitzgerald, Alison Lurie, Iris Murdoch, Barbara Pym, Muriel Spark, Elizabeth Taylor, Barbara Trapido, Anne Tyler, Virginia Woolf. It's clear that the women have it. For French and lit crit it's not so clear cut - Colette and Duras, but also Camus and Sartre, Balzac and Flaubert, Louis Aragon, Barthes, Julia Kristeva and Slavoj Zizek.

Dorothy W. said...

Let's see -- Virginia Woolf, Henry James, Mary McCarthy, George Eliot, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Daniel Defoe. I don't think I own enough books.

JohnM said...

Looks familiar. ;)

Margaret Atwood, Paul Auster, Doris Betts, A.S. Byatt, Italo Calvino, Jim Crace, John Crowley, Don DeLillo, Clyde Edgerton, Karen Joy Fowler, Haven Kimmel, Lorrie Moore, Bharati Mukherjee, Richard Powers, Francine Prose, Richard Russo, Jane Smiley, Lee Smith.

Stefanie said...

Beautiful shelves full of books! Here are my dominate authors.

Ella said...

Your library makes me want to move in. What a great space.

My dominant authors: Agatha Christie, Joseph Conrad, Sherman Alexie, Peter Hoeg. However, I should note, we're so cramped for space, a 'dominant author' is usually about four books.

Razovsky said...

I love the idea of an author's poetry and fiction books being side-by-side. Very radical!

On my overstuffed, doubled-up shelves, Samuel Beckett gets his only single-layer shelf. Mervyn Peake and Patricia Highsmith share another.

I have a vast collection of Opal Louis Nations and his Strange Faeces imprint, but these are in boxes: most are stapled books and chapbooks, and I haven't figured out how to make the accessible yet.

Another collection is comprised of jwcurry's various imprints, but they're in clusters all over my apartment, also undisplayable in my current quarters.

The other major collections: James Tate, David McFadden, Bill Knott, Charles Bukowski, David Grubb, Tom Clark, B.S. Johnson, John Fante, Gilbert Sorrentino, A.L. Kennedy, Vladimir Nabokov, Graham Greene, A.M. Homes, bpNichol, Joe Rosenblatt, Sharon Olds, Mark Strand, M.A.C. Farrant. Lots of others (in the five-books-and-over category).

The New York Poets get two single-layer shelves, but really need three: focus is on Ron Padgett, Ted Berrigan, Kenward Elmslie, John Ashbery, Joe Brainard, Kenneth Koch.

The listing of books my single-author quantity is deceptive. I have only one book by Demetrio Aguilera-Malta (Seven Serpents and Seven Moons), but it's one of my favourite things ever written. Same goes for Leonard Gardner (Fat City -- did he write anything else?). Oh, and Lisa Shea (Hula -- one of the most perfect novels I've read): same category.

satyridae said...

Dominating: Dorothy Allison, Ruth M. Arthur, Allison Bechdel, Helen Boylston, Orson Scott Card, Charles Dickens, Annie Dillard, Gerald Durrell, Edward Eager, Elizabeth Enright, Walter Farley, Robert Heinlein, Russell Hoban, Norma Johnston, Ursula K. Le Guin, Madeleine L'Engle, Maud Hart Lovelace, Robert McCloskey, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Ogden Nash, Sharon Olds, Philip Pullman, Spider Robinson, Sara Teasdale, J.R.R.Tolkien, Garry Trudeau, & Mark Twain.

I file by author, mixing fiction, poetry, nonfiction, & comics.

Tony Rabig said...

At the moment (low on shelf space, so now and then an author's work is donated to a local library to make room for a new one; the churning is constant): Fritz Leiber, Robert Silverberg, Robert Heinlein, Harlan Ellison, Henry James, Isaac Bashevis Singer, Flannery O'Connor, Charles Dickens, Roger Zelazny, J. P. Marquand, Richard Russo, Tim O'Brien, William Goldman, Jack Finney, Shirley Jackson, Thomas Williams, Stephen King, Tabitha King, Ray Bradbury, John O'Hara, Joseph Epstein, Gerald Kersh, Theodore Sturgeon, Jon Hassler, V. S. Pritchett, Jorge Luis Borges, Rudyard Kipling, W. Somerset Maugham, Chekhov, Dostoyevsky, Tolstoy, Shakespeare, John D. MacDonald, Fredric Brown, James Tiptree, Dan Simmons, Evan Hunter, Lawrence Block, Michael Connelly, Cornell Woolrich, and others on the back shelves and in the ebook files I'm overlooking right now.

Michael said...

I have the somewhat interesting problem of so often giving away books I've read (my family are all mooches-- but well read ones) that my bookshelves make me look like a total poseur who buys everything and reads nothing. So the question becomes, who have I read the most by that I am sufficiently jealous of keeping their books so that I still have them? I think Patrick O'Brian wins that one, with, oddly enough, Joris Karl Huysmans placing second (but then his are hard enough to find that one hates to let them go-- and who else would like them anyway). Oh, and maybe Thorne Smith for similar reasons, but completely different pleasures. I'm sure I'm the only person to ever cite those three names in the same paragraph.