It has been wonderful to see all the initiatives and events unfolding throughout this National Year of Reading, and I’m thrilled to be an ambassador for the Eastern Regional Library Service. So for a while I’ve been trying to think of something to  contribute to the whole celebration. And then the other day (thanks to Yvette O’Dowd and her scrabble-inspired organisation), I came up with - bookshelves!

Now I have to admit that I love bookshelves regardless. Apart from their general usefulness, I think they’re a bit like glancing into someone’s shopping trolley where you get an instant sense of the type of person they are. Of course any such analysis has to be  more about majority than the odd anomaly (like leftover school texts and weird Christmas gifts), but here’s my rough guide:

Mysteries - an analytical mind. You probably also like crosswords, or sudoku.
Business/finance - practical, and a tad methodical. Possibly a little boring. Sorry.
Science Fiction - you secretly crave alien abduction. Probing would be the icing on the cake (metaphorically speaking). 
Bestsellers - a bit of a trend-follower. You probably also liked capri pants and/or crocs.
Prize-winners (Man Booker, Miles Franklin etc) - You are a little worthy, and need to spread your wings. Seriously.
Historical fiction - You like to have your cake and eat it too. Possibly bi-sexual.
Cook-books - while you prefer to
make the cake. Therefore well worth cultivating as a friend.
Romance - soft centre, dreamy. Romantic (duh). If you were chocolate, you’d be caramello.
Magic & fantasy - you are imaginative and adventurous. Or you have teenagers in the house.
Westerns - you are politically conservative. You think feminism is destructive, although you’ve never actually looked the term up in a dictionary.
Auto/biography/memoir - this is dependent on the subject. For instance Confessions of an heiress (Paris Hilton) says something very different from If I did it (O.J. Simpson). Except that they both make me want to vomit.
Short stories - you either have wonderfully eclectic taste, or a short attention span. If you were chocolate, you’d be a block of Snack. 
Light Fiction - there is a part of you that is bright, fun and funky. You enjoy a glass of white wine. Me too.

However I digress (a bad habit of mine, which those who’ve been to one of my author talks will know).  This is about the bookshelves, not what lies within them, as fascinating as that may be. The author Anna Quindlen once said that she would be content if her children grew up to be "the kind of people who think decorating consists of building enough bookshelves." This competition is for those kind of people.

Simply send me a photo of your bookshelf. Either post it to my facebook page or email me during August or September. It doesn’t have to be imaginative, or exotic, or even organised - it just has to contain books. I’ll be posting the photos on facebook and will also use a selection to decorate my revamped website (due by October). To start us off, I’ve included a few of my own to the left (but not my sarcophagus, which has now been turned into a receptacle for memorabilia). There’ll be a couple of prize packs of books but because this isn’t a competition (how can any bookshelf be judged ’better’ than another?), the winners will be selected at random. And if you come across any weird, wonderful or quirky bookshelves on the net, please supply a link so that we can all share. This is a celebration, inspired by The National Year of Reading (plus Yvette), and like books themselves, it’s about expansion, inspiration and entertainment. Enjoy!

Cheers, Ilsa Evans


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