Books in the background

What you read says a lot of unsaid things about you. So I tend to snoop on people’s bookshelves. This post covers some of the critical points.

That was pre-COVID. 

Now I have to rely on Zoom backgrounds. It’s distracting in a meeting. Not the fake Zoom backgrounds – the real thing behind the person. The titles are illegible. So I go by the thickness of the spines. Do they look like reference tomes? A variation indicates a range of topics. Or at least some type of diversity.

The bookshelf could be loaded with unread books giving a pretence of wisdom. Or operating as a display of status. What I look for is “messiness” on the shelves. It’s a rough indicator of reading activity. Another is bookmarking. Are any jutting out the books? Coloured Post-It notes are a sign of a hard-core reader. The type who has bibliography files and builds their arguments with facts. 

Of course, it’s a superficial and inaccurate view of anyone’s reading life. A lot of productive readers have got digital. So they have their bookshelf in their pocket whenever they have to wait a handful of more minutes. Such hidden readers are successfully invisible until you have to talk to them.


2 thoughts on “Books in the background

  1. Is this prompted by the now infamous picture of Gota in his library?

    I like Zoom bookshelves, esp. the regular journalists on BBC and the like. They seem to deliberately highlight appropriate books for the topic in discussion or promote their latest books!

    Something of a pang when someone you don’t like has read the same book as you. There’s a connection, at least you have something to talk about if you ever meet Gota, and makes them more ‘human’ I guess. But then …

    Liked by 1 person

    1. 🤣 Never thought of that one! Mainly because I avoid all news on any media. So my experience is mostly based on video meets.

      I guess for people on mass/social media every pixel needs to be part of the message (being cynical here).


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