It’s not just a bit of punnery. It’s a little more serious than that. The ‘selfie’ (the smartphone self-portrait pinged onto Instagram or into the Twittersphere and delivered to one and all on Facebook) has, as I’m sure you’ll be aware because you are smart, been joined by a ironic new kid on the block.
This, though less prevalent despite its best efforts, is the ‘shelfie’ – a portrait of your bookshelf. The aim being to, I think in a friendly way, score points over those more self-indulgent mugshots by showcasing your library. Books mean brains – whether they’re read, unread or ‘long-term borrowed’ is irrelevant. If we’re telling the truth, very rarely does a selfie exist without some degree of effort. The scale is huge, traversing celebrities, wannabe celebrities, you (perhaps) and (just occasionally) me, and could be anywhere from an inoffensive, yet knowing ‘gentle head tilt’ to the full-on, pumped and plumped up mega-pose, quite possibly in a state of undress. Having examined the appropriate hashtags all over the internet, I’ve been wondering if the same self-consciousness applies to its cousin, the shelfie. After all, checking out a bookshelf is pretty close to taking a look into the mind of the shelf owner. And I know the odd lady who would hide their Jilly Cooper guilty pleasure before there was a chance of their bookshelves being scrutinised. Books in a home tell us about a person’s education, interests, appetite for language, information and story telling. In one moment they are a visual shortcut to saying ‘my mind is open to more than I can fit into my waking hours right here and now’. They bring life, texture and colour to your home. Unfortunately for the anti-clutter brigade, the discreet e-reader can’t be relied upon to do the same job. I am unconvinced that the selfie phenomenon should be encouraged with anything less than a tongue in your cheek – as too much self-love can leave you a fool. But, at risk of sounding all liberal and arty, I rather like the shelfie phenomenon. It rather benefits the perception of you to have a well-connected book shelf. And if your book stocks are low, add some curiosities into the mix. I’ve waffled on before about pictures providing a quick means of changing the look of a room. A good book shelf can also act much like a hung gallery, providing the opportunity to curate its contents over and over again. And don’t stop at books, especially when there are old ladies around. We will be posting our #shelfies all this week on our Instagram feed. Follow us to get the updates and post your own using #ladylandshelfies. Images from top: När Var Hur (When Was How – a Swedish year book first published in 1944, popularly given as a Christmas gift top left: United Shelves of America – nothing says ‘proud to be American’ like a giant bookshelf of the States top right: A Tolkein fan – edition seeker middle left: This shelfie is racking up the Irish chick lit middle right: A rainbow reader who mixes literature with life – a surprisingly height conformist selection bottom left: Aussie bottom right: Something of a show-off shelfie – I have anxieties about him getting the pages wet. lastly: Old lady shelfie