12th November, 2019

Review: Shelf Respect by Annie Austen (Little, Brown Book Group)

Going Marie Kondo is all the rage, but what if your preferred style of interior decor is miles of overstuffed bookshelves? If you can't bring yourself to declutter your collection, Annie Austen's volume will come to the rescue and validate your life choices. It is a celebration of the humble but worshipped bookshelf: whether Billy case or oak library with rolling ladders - Shelf Respect is an endearing defence of towering TBR piles and idiosyncratic shelf organisation.  

As any bibliophile would have been, I was delighted when I found this little book. Another collection of readers' anecdotes and book loving geekiness? Oh yes! You can't have enough of these. 

Shelf Respect follows in the fashion of titles such as Bookworm or I'd rather be reading. It is essentially a variety of mini essays and lists (such as "10 books found on Marilyn Monroe's bookshelf") and it's both humorous and entertaining. There are chapters that reveal what your book collection tells others about your character, chapters that talk about fictional books in stories or the slightly more macabre question whether or not 'death by bookcase' is a desirable way to perish (I guess the answer is obvious. Yes! Duh?).   

I really enjoyed this book. However, while the included lists are interesting, they unfortunately take up too much space, in my opinion. At times it feels like Austen needed more material to bring her collection up to book length and that's a pity because those chapters that really are about the daily trials of bibliophiles are extremely well-written and entertaining. I would have wished for more of these sections as they make up the true heart of the collection and any book lover will easily find themselves in these. 

I still recommend this slim volume on all things "book love". It's a bit like dessert, maybe a warm apple pie with custard: You can finish it quickly or savour it, but in any case it will give you a warm feeling of happiness. 

Rating: 3.5/4 stars

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