Today’s ritual duty will provide you with a view of my bookshelves. Gazing into the depths of the china hutch I use as book storage, I was struck by the aptness of my books. Until, well, frankly, until just now, I hadn’t noticed the strong link between a personality and its books. My books are so deeply mine that I hadn’t really looked at them before. Familiar as my own reflection, I look at them without surprise. They suit me.
Naturally, I can see other people’s reflection in their books. I can see Terpsichore in her Archival Room (where she happens also to sleep) and Melpomene in the coffee table Richard Wilbur. My mother keeps an entire closet lined with shelves and full of uncategorized miscellaneous books. Last week, I visited a pastor and his wife and found their home lined with books, organized by category. Books of theology in the dining area. Hymnals (about 30) beside the piano. Genealogy in the living room.
But I can’t see my own face.
So this is my mirror. I’ve taken a good long look into my bookshelves and I find a few things the rest of you probably already knew.
Firstly, I have widely varied interests that alternate at a whim. World War One poetry , Shakespeare, Newbery Award winners, Theology. They’re all represented and well loved.
Secondly…I have a lot of violin books. While they’re not by the same authors, this arena completely drowns every other category. I have stacks and stacks of concerti, sonatas, etudes, gig music, show pieces, exercises, and practical theory. And nowhere near half of it is with me at my apartment. Mom has the rest. Poor woman.
But what you want to know is the name of the author who runs rampant through my bookshelves. Clearly, it is Agatha Christie.
As of this spring, I have read everything that Dame Agatha wrote. This is no idle boast. I have even read the books published under other names, the autobiography and the (not terribly successful) poetry. Most of her works I have read more than once. My favorite titles are falling apart. I don’t own all these books by any means. I read all of them from the library and judiciously pick my favorites to weigh on my shelves. I own about eight. There could be more, tucked away on the wall side of my bed, or providing ballast in my trunk. But there were seven on the shelves, and I know I’m forgetting one.
Lord Edgeware Dies
The Pale Horse
Evil Under the Sun
The Man in the Brown Suit
Come, Tell Me How You Live
I do love Agatha Christie. I love her sense of humor, and I love her self effacing modesty. She loves life and humans, watching them and pondering humanity. Oh yes, I love her. I think one day I will tell you why, but that is not the story for today. Now you know with sureness that Agatha Christie is the author by whom I have the most books (sexy grammar? I think yes.)
PS. May I point out, in addition, that in my household, Terpsichore and I own every Lord Peter Wimsey book. Except Five Red Herrings, which we don’t like. T.