Normally this new series of Other People’s Bookshelves will go live on Thursdays, however I have done a little swap around of posts this week and so it is here a day early. This week we have the lovely Marina Sofia, who regularly comments on Savidge Reads (for which I am hugely grateful as I am to anyone who does). Marina Sofia is a serial expat, currently living in the French Alps near Geneva. She loves reading books of any kind, with a particular weakness for Japanese and German literature, and crime fiction from any country. She is currently writing her own crime novel and blogs about poetry, the books she reads and the joys and pains of finding time to write. Marina is also a regular reviewer for the website www.crimefictionlover.com. She also has the blog http://findingtimetowrite.wordpress.com Do give them both a visit.
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?
In an ideal world, I would have all of my books up on the shelves. However, I currently have books in 3 countries. We are temporarily living in rented accommodation in France, so I have a few old favourites and new purchases here (hence the limited number of bookshelves). In the attic of our house in the UK I have boxes and boxes of books, which I had to clear out of my beloved bookcases for our tenants. And I still have quite a pile of books waiting to be reunited with me at my parents’ house in Romania. However, I do have big clear-outs and give away books to charity or local libraries a few times a year.
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?
I used to be really anal about organising books by topic, alphabetical order, colour, size etc. I’ve mellowed a little over the years and only organize them by topic. So, all my crime fiction is in one place. All my books in foreign languages are in another place. My professional books are in one corner, with my ancient teddy bear to keep them company. And so on. I can usually find any book in just a few seconds, so there is some kind of system there which works for me.
What was the first book you ever bought with your own money and does it reside on your shelves now?
I wasn’t given pocket money as a child, so I didn’t buy books with my own money! Although, to be fair, my parents were very good about buying me books, because they thought it was educational. Hmmm, not so sure all those Secret Seven, Mallory Towers and Chalet School books really qualified as educational, but I adored them all!
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?
No, I don’t feel guilty about any of my reading choices. But I do have a tendency to push out my husband’s books out from ‘my’ shelves and hide them somewhere. Luckily, he has taken to using his Kindle now, so I can claim full possession of the study now!
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?
It would be painful, but I think any books can be replaced. I would be more likely to try and save my manuscripts and old diaries.
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?
Back in the 1970s or 1980s, parents had bought a Pan Classics collection of all of Austen’s novels, all the Brontë novels, most of Dickens, some Thackeray and ‘Moll Flanders’ for some reason. I am not sure that they actually read them (they are not native speakers of English), but they had probably been told it would be a good investment for me in the future. So I started dipping into them from the age of 10 or thereabouts. My parents never censored me, but I had the sensation they were a bit of a forbidden fruit nevertheless, so I enjoyed them and probably became far too precocious for my own good.
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 borrow a lot of books from the library; otherwise my house would soon overflow with books completely! However, if it’s an absolutely brilliant book that I can’t live without, I will buy it after reading a copy of it. The most recent example of that is a collected edition of Simenon’s noir fiction (the so-called ‘romans durs’).
What was the last book that you added to your bookshelves?
A hardback edition of ‘Burying the Typewriter’ signed by the author, Carmen Bugan. It’s a beautifully written, very poignant memoir of an idyllic childhood in the Romanian countryside which comes to an abrupt end when the author’s father decides to protest against the Communist regime in Romania in the 1980s.
Are there any books that you wish you had on your bookshelves that you don’t currently?
I do like collected or complete works of my favourite authors. I would love to own the whole set of Michael Dibdin’s Aurelio Zen crime novels. And I am still searching for that perfect edition of Marcel Proust’s ‘Remembrance of Things Past’.
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 would think I am a very open-minded reader, ready to try all genres, all kinds of writing. What my friends and family usually think, however, is: ‘How are you going to take them all back to England again?’
A big thank you to Marina for letting me grill her. Don’t forgot if you would like to participate (and I would love you to) in Other People’s Book Shelves 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 Marina’s responses and/or any of the books she mentioned?