As it’s World Book Day, I thought I’d share my bookshelf with you. How about you? What’s your shelf like?
I’d like to think of mine as quite a good mixture of titles and genres. Unfortunately, I had to leave many of my books behind when I left England to move back to Germany, so I am still rebuilding my personal library.
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.
My main bookshelf is a combination of three IKEA Billy shelves and it takes up one wall of my living room. While I also keep souvenirs, DVDs and photos on the shelves, most of the room is taken up by books.
Textbooks and dictionaries live in a small hanging cupboard above my desk. The glass-fronted cabinet next to my desk is filled with travel guides, books on languages and photography, and a few of my bigger books, including the Brockhaus Encyclopædia.
I’ve got a few cube IKEA Expedits (just single cubes) in my bedroom. In one, I keep older books I got from my gran like a 1950 version of A tree grows in Brooklyn and a 1947 copy of Bel Ami, as well as older copies of Tai-Pan, In Cold Blood and Lucrezia Borgia. On top and next to that cube is my current To Be Read pile as part of my 60 Books Challenge.
2. Do you have any special or different way of organizing your books?
Well, my books are organised like this:
- Books I had to read in school
- Favourite books
- 1 shelf is just Harry Potter
- Travel writing
- Heirlooms/Fleamarket finds
- Crime / Thriller
- To Be Read
- Everything else
They are all sorted by size as well, and series are kept together, in order.
3. What’s the thickest (most amount of pages) book on your shelf?
I own two books with the complete, collected works of Wilhelm Busch, illustrated editions from 1959. Book #1 Und die Moral von der Geschicht has 1,135 pages, Book #2 Was beliebt ist auch erlaubt has 1,087 pages.
4. What’s the thinnest (least amount of pages) book on your shelf?
Das Schiff Esperanza by Fred von Hoerschelmann has only 51 pages.
I also have a copy of Fräulein Tugendschön, die edle Gouvernante und andere Humoresken by Karl Ettlinger (originally from 1923), which my German teacher typed up and bound himself as graduation gifts for my Advanced German course at Grammar School. His version has 60 A5 pages, and he personalised every copy with a message.
5. What’s the smallest (height and width wise) book on your shelf?
Any of the yellow Reclam books for school (books of equal size, approved and cheap school literature). Yellow means it’s a German language book, red is English language.
On my shelf right now are:
- Das Fräulein von Scuderi by E.T.A. Hoffmann,
- Faust – Der Tragödie Erster Teil by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe,
- Woyzeck by Georg Büchner,
- Wilhelm Tell by Friedrich Schiller
- A Streetcar Named Desire by Tennessee Williams.
6. What’s the biggest (height and width wise) book on your shelf?
Another, illustrated version collection of works by Wilhelm Busch.
7. Is there a book from a friend on your shelf?
Well, I do have books that friends have written, like Menschen mit Meer by Alex Hofmann and Die Spiegelsinfonie by Lilian Muscutt, but I do not borrow books from friends.
8. Most expensive book?
Fiction: The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, leather-bound edition.
Non-fiction: The 1st World Travel Atlas.
9. The last book you read on your shelf?
The Vesuvius Club by Mark Gatiss
10. Of all the books on your shelf, which was the first you read?
Either Das kleine Gespenst by Otfried Preußler or Kalle Wirsch und die wilden Utze by Tilde Michels. I know I got Kalle Wirsch in 1994, but I’m not sure anymore whether I read Das kleine Gespenst first.
11. Do you have more than one copy of a book?
I have all the Harry Potter books in English and German, and Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in French as well.
I own The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings trilogy, some of Bill Bryson’s books, The curious incident of the dog in the night-time, Animal Farm in English and German.
I also have duplicates of the 1956 version of Vom Winde verweht (Gone with the wind) by Margaret Mitchell and the 1950s version of Der Glöckner von Notre Dame (The hunchback of Notre Dame) by Victor Hugo.
Die Bekenntnisse des Hochstaplers Felix Krull by Thomas Mann was required reading in school, so I own a paperback copy of it. Then I found a copy from the 1950s with a painted cover while browsing a fleamarket and bought it. Last year, I found the exact same version on my gran’s shelf. I still don’t like the book, or Thomas Mann’s writing.
As a Sherlockian, I also own The Complete Sherlock Holmes, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes and a German illustrated collection of the Sherlock Holmes short stories.
12. Do you have the complete series of any book series?
- The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien
- Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling
- Lucifer Box trilogy by Mark Gatiss
- Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
- The Forest Wife trilogy by Theresa Tomlinson
- Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin
- all of Bill Bryson’s travel books
- Eragon by Christopher Paolini
- The Trilogy of Five by Douglas Adams (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy and sequels)
- and dating back to when I was a teenager, the Wicca series.
- and I have loads of Kathy Reich’s books
13. What’s the newest addition to your shelf?
Axolotl Roadkill by Helene Hegemann
14. What book has been on your shelf FOREVER?
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
15. What’s the most recently published book on your shelf?
I think that’s Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs from 2013
16. The oldest book on your shelf (as in, the actual copy is old)?
As the only active reader in the family, I got most of the family heirlooms. The oldest is a Holy Bible from 1897, but I also have the Collected Works by Friedrich Schiller dating back to 1910 and two Gustav Freytag books (Soll und Haben and Die verlorene Handschrift) which were gifted to my granddad’s boss in 1926 and 1923 respectively, so I’m assuming they were new when they were given away.
They are all still printed in Fraktur / Gothic typeface (the Old German typeface).
17. A book you won?
The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux
18. A book you’d hate to let out of your sight (aka a book you never let someone borrow)?
All of them, after the last book was horribly mistreated.
19. Most beat up book?
I buy a lot of my books second hand in all sorts of conditions. Though my copy of The Hobbit is really beat up now after I lent it to a friend (see above).
The Collected Works by Friedrich Schiller (heirloom) from 1910 is also starting to fall apart, but that’s because the spine ot damaged 100 years ago, I’ve been told.
20. Most pristine book?
The Complete Sherlock Holmes by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.
21. A book from your childhood?
- Kalle Wirsch und die wilden Utze by Tilde Michels, a Christmas present from my primary school teacher, Year 2, 1994.
- Der kleine Prinz by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, another Christmas gift from my primary school teacher, Year 4, 1996
- Pippi Langstrumpf by Astrid Lindgren
- Das kleine Gespenst by Otfried Preußler
- Momo by Michael Ende
22. A book that’s not actually your book?
All of the books my gran gifted me from her own collection as she is going blind and can no longer read. That’s around 60 books by now, but she still has a crate full of books waiting for me to collect it.
23. A book with a special/different cover (e.g. leather-bound, soft fuzzy cover etc.)?
- The Complete Sherlock Holmes, leather-bound and gilded pages.
- Several books with intricate drawings on the covers.
24. A book that is your favourite colour?
The Lord of the Flies by William Golding with the burnt-orange cover.
25. Book that’s been on your shelf the longest that you STILL haven’t read?
Ende einer Dienstfahrt by Heinrich Böll
26. Any signed books?
- Michael Palin’s New Europe by Michael Palin (of Monty Python fame) signed by Michael during an interview in 2007
- Schmitz’ Katze by Ralf Schmitz, signed by Ralf after a live show in 2008
- Street Without A Name by Kapka Kassabova, signed by Kapka during an interview in 2009
- Bluebird by Vesna Maric, signed by Vesna during an interview in 2009
- Menschen mit Meer by Alex Hofmann, signed by Alex during an interview in 2014
- Die Spiegelsinfonie by Lilian Muscutt, signed by Lily after an editorial meeting in 2015
Hoping to expand the list on Saturday after the Rock ‘n’ Roll Benefit Reading which will feature local autors.