What – If Anything – Do Our Personal Libraries Reveal about Ourselves?

Most booklovers probably assume that people who would like to understand us better could do worse than scan our home library for clues.

According to journalist James Wood, most of us would be wrong.

Wood recently wrote in the New Yorker about the thoughts provoked by dismantling his father-in-law’s extensive personal library, and comparing his observations about the books he found in that library with what he knew of their owner’s background, character, and behavior.

It’s a fascinating story. New Yorker subscribers can read the story online; non-subscribers can read a summary of it here.

Do you think your personal library reveals – or obscures – clues to your personality, or is it merely a handy, if imperfect, index to your reading patterns (and ambitions)…and little else?


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