Thursday, February 07, 2008

Ezra Klein, Shameless Poseur.

Aspirational bookshelves are the devil's work. This is just wrong:
Bookshelves are not for displaying books you've read -- those books go in your office, or near your bed, or on your Facebook profile. Rather, the books on your shelves are there to convey the type of person you would like to be. I am the type of person who would read long biographies of Lyndon Johnson, despite not being the type of person who has read any long biographies of Lyndon Johnson. I am the type of person who is very interested in a history of the Reformation, but am not, as it happens, the type of person with the time to read 900 pages on the subject. More importantly, I am the type of person who amasses many books, on all sorts of subjects. I'm pretty sure that's what a bookshelf is there to prove.
Prove to whom? People you want to delude into thinking you are well-read instead of merely glib? At least put a copy of this out to inoculate yourself from charges of deceit and pretention. I tend to agree with the commenter who inquires:
Who has sufficient disposable income to buy significant numbers of books and not read them? Me, I only ever buy books I'm pretty sure I'm going to read.
They must be paying liberal journalist/bloggers better than I thought. A few years down the line, we'll have a Sex & the City: Beltway Edition scene, in which the wonkish blogger realizes that he doesn't have money for a down payment on one of those trendy Green Line condos because he has sunk thousands of dollars into books he's never even read. At least Carrie got some wear out of her Manolos.

I stand by my shelfworthiness theory.
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