Hello and welcome, to the latest in the series of Other People’s Bookshelves. In the grand scheme of things we have now gone from a post on porn, well sex, in books to book porn as we all nosey through someone else’s book shelves. This week we are in finally joined by Anne Coates. I say finally as we have been trying to get Anne’s shelves shared with you all for quite some time but technology has been defeating us until now! So without further ado here is Anne to introduce herself and her shelves…
Books have been a constant in my life for as long as I can remember. After graduating in English and French, I worked in publishing and this was wonderful for reading and learning about contemporary fiction and different genres. As a freelance editor and writer, I have been involved in non-fiction as well. I have always written short stories which were published in women’s magazines. Endeavour Press have recently published two ebook collections Cheque-Mate & Other Tales of the Unexpected and A Tale of Two Sisters as well as two parenting books linked to my family website, Parenting Without Tears. As you may imagine Roald Dahl is one of my favourite authors and as an antidote to my work in non-fiction, there’s nothing I like better than a good murder!
Do you keep all the books you read on your shelves or only your favourites, does a book have to be REALLY good to end up on your shelves or is there a system like one in one out, etc?
Obviously I keep all my favourites but every now and again I have a cull. Once I kept every Reader’s Digest book I’d worked on then thought – why? So out they went. Also some non-fiction books become outdated/superceded so they go too. A lot of the non-fiction books on my shelves were for review or research. I love re-reading books I’ve enjoyed but Twitter has introduced me to a whole world of new writers and the “books to read pile” has become a tower or rather several towers if you include my ebooks!.
Do you organise your shelves in a certain way? For example do you have them in alphabetical order of author, or colour coded? Do you have different bookshelves for different books (for example, I have all my read books on one shelf, crime on another and my TBR on even more shelves) or systems of separating them/spreading them out? Do you cull your bookshelves ever?
My bookshelves tend to evolve organically and they have moved around the house. Used to have all my fiction in the dining-room but then needed the space there. Having looked at my shelves for this article, I’ve realised what a mess they are in. Fiction used to be alphabetical with a separate shelf for French texts and plays and poetry together. However the shelves are rather chaotic at the moment – time for another cull? On the other hand sometimes, when I’m looking for one book, I find another I’d forgotten about and that’s always a joy.
What was the first book you ever bought with your own money and does it reside on your shelves now?
I remember being given some money when I was about nine or ten and I went straight out and bought a maths book! However I’ve no idea what happened to it.
Are there any guilty pleasures on your bookshelves you would be embarrassed people might see, or like me do you have a hidden shelf for those somewhere else in the house?
I don’t harbour any guilty reading pleasures (she said in her best Lady Grantham voice) but I don’t like westerns or erotica. However on my shelves is a copy of Joy in Love translated from French by one Anne Dante (!). My mother read it without comment but she had read The Story of O. I probably wouldn’t want anyone to think I’d read it but I just can’t bring myself to throw away or hide the first book I translated.
Which book on the shelves is your most prized, mine would be a collection of Conan Doyle stories my Great Uncle Derrick memorised and retold me on long walks and then gave me when I was older? Which books would you try and save if (heaven forbid) there was a fire?
I love having books that members of my family (who are now dead) have owned. My paternal grandmother won a copy of Mrs Beaton’s Family Cook Book (second prize for a Victoria sponge) which contains notes and comments and some of her recipes. So I’d certainly want to save that. Plus I’d grab Mum’s Shakespeare knowing that she had held the book and read the plays. I also have her copy of Andrew Marvell which I bought her as she loved his poetry. Whenever I read those poems, I smile thinking of my mother. I also have books signed by authors I have worked with which are very special to me.
What is the first ‘grown up’, and I don’t mean in a ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’ way, that you remember on your parent’s shelves or at the library, you really wanted to read? Did you ever get around to it and are they on your shelves now?
My parents didn’t own many books (although my mother was a voracious reader and went to the library every week) but I do remember As I Lay Dying by William Faulkner, The Essential Hemingway and Sticky Wickets by Lionel Lord Tennyson. I still have their Pears Encyclopaedia. I did read the first two but am not that interested in reading about cricket.
If you love a book but have borrowed the copy do you find you have to then buy the book and have it on your bookshelves or do you just buy every book you want to read?
I used to buy every book but then had to reduce expenditure so use the library and share books with friends. Having a Kindle has made a huge difference as I buy books on special offer.
What was the last book that you added to your bookshelves?
The latest book has literally just arrived: The Unquiet Grave by Steven Dunne. I shall be reading it to see if I am hoodwinked by Steven’s perfect plot twists. A lovely challenge.
Are there any books that you wish you had on your bookshelves that you don’t currently?
Am looking forward to the latest from Peter James and Mari Hannah –Dead Man’s Time and Monument to Murder – they’re on my Christmas wish list.
What do you think someone perusing your shelves would think of your reading taste, or what would you like them to think?
I hope they’d think here’s someone who loves books and reads widely. Some of my books are “well-thumbed” and some have notes written in them which would probably say more about me than the book. Observers might wonder at some of the non-fiction titles … but all in the line of duty.
A huge thanks to Anne for taking part in Other People’s Bookshelves! Don’t forgot if you would like to participate (and I would love you to – hint, hint, hint) in the series then drop me an email to email@example.com with the subject Other People’s Bookshelves, thanks in advance. In the meantime… what do you think of Anne’s responses and/or any of the books and authors that she mentions?