What your bookshelf says about you

Graphic by Jennifer Kwan

What’s in a bookshelf? A whole lot, it turns out. The Concordian conducted an experiment, where writers asked strangers if they could invade their homes and pry into their book collection. The result? Observations, hypotheses, conclusions and sometimes, outright jealousy from our spies.

Graphic by Jennifer Kwan


Matthew’s bookshelf is full of classics. We’re talking Shakespeare, Hemingway, Wilde and others of that calibre. That’s it. Six rows of shelves each carrying literary masterpiece after masterpiece.

This could only mean one thing: Mathew is a technophile. He must have both the iPad and the iPad mini, and he must have queued up all night last week to be the first to get the second generation of the iPad Air — unless he’s into Android.

The only thing Mathew’s bookshelf indicates is that he’s an avid reader. But not what kind of reader he is though, because the books he’s actually reading are stored digitally on his Kindles and tablets and whatnots. What remains on his bookshelf are mere vestiges of his past.

His present leaves room for none of that. Matthew keeps an impeccable and up to date social media profile, and knows to get on trends before everyone hashtags them on Twitter. Also, Mathew’s been making Bitstrips way before you ever did.

Mathew will cause his family and friends a great deal of pain this Christmas when they shop for his gifts. What do you buy the man who has all the toys?

E-books are the best bet. He’s going to want to read Neuromancer, where the term “Cyberspace” was coined, or maybe Trust me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a Media Manipulator.

Matthew is a second-year philosophy student.

-Marcel Shepard



Browsing through Stacy’s bookshelf, I came across a variety of books which gave me the impression that she’s a multi-faceted woman. Her bookshelf was adorned with such novels as Girl, Interrupted, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and The Virgin Suicides, which leaves no doubt in my mind that Stacy has got a sensitive and inquisitive soul.

Her interest in angst-ridden novels that have to do with people’s psychological states and feeling like the odd one out, sheds light on her introversion. She’s not an outgoing social butterfly, hates to be in the spotlight and will probably spend a good amount of her free time alone enjoying the comfort of listening to some melancholic tunes from Sigur Ros while sipping on some freshly brewed herbal tea.

She also owns the Harry Potter series so there’s no denying her interest in the fantasy world; it is probably reflected in her quirky body language which attracts the eyes of the nerdy boys who find her inner geek “adorkable.” Lastly, with books like Animal Farm and A Clockwork Orange, she’s got an eye for sci-fi, meaning she can hold an intellectual conversation and is open-minded to having some serious political discussions over the country’s current state.

On that note, she probably hates Pauline Marois, so with that in mind I can see myself hanging out with Stacy. This lady is all about substance over style.

Stacy is a geography student in her final year.

-Andrea Arrizza



My bookshelf victim is Diana. Scattered on her white lacquered shelves are titles like Healing Your Emotional Self, Getting Past Your Past and Sex Made Easy. Odd, I think to myself, but I keep looking on. 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, A Gentle Path Through the 12 Steps and The Six Pillars of Self-Esteem. Aha! Her bookshelves are filled with self-help books.

Diana, I figure, is the type of woman that is highly in touch with her emotions, and judging from some of the titles, is getting through a bad breakup. With books illustrating just how hard she works on her emotional well-being, I decide that it must be totally his fault.

She’d be the kind of person that proffers unsolicited advice, and readily shares information of her journey to happiness. Diana would definitely be into astrology and probably spends one night each month getting her fortune read. Diana’s drink is a cosmopolitan just like her idol Carrie Bradshaw (I’m cheating here; I met Diana at a bar, drinking a Cosmopolitan). I’d totally hang out with this lady, because she would be sure to know the five easy steps to having a good time.

Diana is a second year psychology student.

-Filippa Michelakakis



Before even getting to the bookshelf, I’ve already made up my mind as to who Samara is. The hallway leading to her living room was in immaculate condition with muted-coloured prints on her walls — I had introduced myself an hour earlier and was invited over immediately; she had no time to prepare for a visit, her apartment was already guest-friendly.

There is a reason I mention her decor: Samara uses books as decoration. Oversized picture books lay ‘randomly’ on her coffee table underneath coasters and little trinkets. Beautiful looking books also line the fireplace mantle amidst framed paintings and candelabras.

Now you can imagine my lack of surprise when I find that the two bookcases against the wall are carefully curated with books on interior design, fashion, and cooking. All presented with either busts and golden statues on either side serving as bookends, or with vases sitting on top of said books.

Though the choice of books does not speak to me, I am glad to be surrounded in their presence. Beauty at Home and Timeless Style makes me feel like I am welcomed here, while Classic Home Desserts and The Martha Stewart Cookbook assure me that I’m gonna be taken care of in the most delicious way. And with the World Atlas of Wine, I’m guaranteed to be happy spending time with the hospitable Samara.

Samara is working on an M.A. in religion.

-Maral Mooshian



Andile does not have a bookshelf, rather he has three large boxes filled with books. I’ve never known a man to have both the entire series of The Lord of The Rings and Harry Potter. Andile could be the one to bring the feud of the two fandoms to an end.

Digging through the boxes, I find a pattern emerging. Arthur C. Clarke’s The Space OdysseyDune, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Ender’s Game and A Song of Ice and Fire.

But wait, there’s more. Andile’s not only interested in otherworldly adventures, he’s into globetrotting our own world as well. Andile has a collection of no less that 50 Lonely Planet travel books, covering countries in Europe, Asia, Africa and the Americas. And I know he’s done the traveling; the books are worn out and stained with all the use he’s been getting from them.

The watermark is from the snow falling down while hiking atop the Himalayas; the red stain is from the wine he drank at the cafe on the Champs Élysées in Paris; the torn page in the Thailand edition happened while in the middle of doing some Muay Thai that he developed a predilection for in Bangkok.

I leave Andile’s room with a desire to explore the world. But mostly I am overcome with envy. Looking at the contents of Andile’s boxes is like looking at the world’s best Facebook profile. I want to go on Andile’s adventures and I want to have Andile’s life. My only comfort is believing that Andile cannot not have much of a social life. He must work double shifts in order to save up the money for all this traveling, afterall.

Andile is a third year physics major.

-Victor Dragic


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