Bookshelf Tours with Team Savvy Reader

A little while ago we ran a feature where the editors at HarperCollins Canada let us into their reading lives to give us a glimpse at their bookshelves. Well, we’re back with another one of those features! This time around, Team Savvy Reader is here to take you on a quick tour of our own bookshelves! Ready? Let’s jump in!

ALICE

1. How do you organize your bookshelves?

I hope this isn’t appalling to everyone, but I organize my shelves by genre and that’s it. I put books by the same author together within my genre sections, but otherwise it’s the wild west!

2. Describe your bookshelves in one word.

Expanding.

3. What is the most expensive book on your shelf?

Janson’s History of Art, which I think picked my poor student pocket of about $250 CAD.

4. What is one book that you think all readers should have on their bookshelves?

Ahhhh that’s so tough! Maybe Bad FeministRight now in this atmosphere of change, I think everyone should be reading it because of the message it sends: we don’t have to be perfect, but we have to keep growing and fighting for what’s right. Roxane Gay not only applies this to sexism and racism, but life as a whole.

5. What book that you still haven’t read has been on your shelf for the longest amount of time?

A Complicated Kindness by Miriam Toews. I really, really, really want to read it, but I keep reading other things instead. Maybe I’ll start it tonight.

6. What is your most prized book on your shelf?

I think my most prized book is probably The Blue Clerk because Dionne Brand added a beautiful personal inscription to me when I attended her launch event. It’s also such a unique book design with the exposed spine and stitching.

BRIANNA

1. How do you organize your bookshelves?

I organize my shelves by my love for a series, keeping books by the same author and books of the same size together on a shelf. You can check out my shelfie tour on HCC Frenzy if you want to see what I mean!

2. Describe your bookshelves in one word. 

Colourful.

3. What is the most expensive book on your shelf?

The most expensive book on my shelf is Harry Potter Page to Screen. It’s also the heaviest and largest book on my shelf.

4. What is one book that you think all readers should have on their bookshelves?

I think that every reader should have Nineteen Minutes by Jodi Picoult on their shelves.

5. What book that you still haven’t read has been on your shelf for the longest amount of time?

I think it’s The Golden House by Salman Rushdie.

6. What is your most prized book on your shelf? 

The most prized book on my shelf is my OwlCrate edition of Heart of Flames by Nicki Pau Preto.

JESSE

1. How do you organize your bookshelves? 

A mixture of over-organization and not organizing at all. I currently have 4 bookshelves – 3 in my room, and one in a spare bedroom. On the one closest to my bed, I organize it – in descending order – by Canadian lit (alphabetical), postmodern lit (alphabetical), and finally my favourite authors (grouped together alphabetically) for the final three shelves. My second bookshelf is entirely dedicated to books on mental health (more on that later), and my third and fourth bookshelves are a random mess of everything that’s left over. And that’s not even getting at the books on my floor that don’t currently have a shelf to call home…

2. Describe your bookshelves in one word.

MESSY!

3. What is the most expensive book on your shelf?

This one is a tie between two books. In a past life, my original plan was to go into academia, so when I was doing my MA I splurged on a massive book called History of Madness. It’s around 800 pages that collects everything Michel Foucault wrote on mental illness, which is what I studied, and it cost me around $130 or $140 bucks at the time. The other book is a gorgeous collection of Van Gogh (my favourite artist) paintings and writings that was around the same price.

4. What is one book that you think all readers should have on their bookshelves?

I’m not one to prescribe what people should and shouldn’t read, but I do believe the world would be a lot better if more people read Swing Low by Miriam Toews.

5. What book that you still haven’t read has been on your shelf for the longest amount of time?

Prior to the COVID lockdowns going into place my answer would have been The Raw Shark Texts by Steven Hall before I read it for the blog, but I actually think Freedom by Jonathan Franzen has officially taken that crown. And it’s not for lack of trying – I’ve picked that book up so many times but just haven’t been able to commit! Maybe that’ll be my winter project…

What is the most prized book on your shelf?

Surprise surprise, this one is also a tie. My first is a copy of Swing Low by Miriam Toews, a book that helped me get through a very difficult time in my life. While touring for her latest book, Miriam came to Toronto and I wasn’t able to secure tickets to the event. Luckily my friends were able to attend, and they were wonderful enough to tell her my story and have her sign a copy for me. She wrote such a heartwarming message in it. My second most prized possession is a copy of Infinite Jest by David Foster Wallace (I know, I know…). I started reading this tome when I was in a very rough spot in my life, and I decided to jot down notes about things that interested me – passages I laughed at, lines that made me stop and pause, words I had no idea existed and had to look up – and what I was thinking while I was reading the book. Now, after having read all 1100ish pages and (what seemed like) 3,000,000 footnotes, it’s less of a book and more of a recording of me at a very particular moment in my life where I was working to get out of a really bad place, and that’s really cool to me.

MARISOL

1. How do you organize your bookshelves? 

I have three major bookshelves in my house: one in the bedroom which has my TBR and houses most of my paperbacks; one which is pretty much dedicated to hardcovers and books I consider to be of special significance; and a third bookshelf above my desk which is where I store all the books I’m currently working on so they’re handy! On all three of my bookshelves, I try and keep genres/similar subjects together.

2. Describe your bookshelves in one word.

Flexible – I am constantly rearranging everything in my collection to accommodate new books!

3. What is the most expensive book on your shelf?

A US-edition of Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire that my husband and I purchased off Etsy to use as our ring box in our wedding. You can’t actually read the book, but it’s been hollowed out on the chapter called “The Unbreakable Vow.”

4. What is one book that you think all readers should have on their bookshelves?

I don’t think there is any one book that all readers should have, but if I walk into your house and you own absolutely no books, that’s suspicious…

5. What book that you still haven’t read has been on your shelf for the longest amount of time?

The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.

6. What is your most prized book on your shelf?

My copy of Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret by Judy Blume! It’s such a classic and my copy used to be my mom’s and that was gifted to her by her mother.

There you have it, Savvy Readers: a tour of our bookshelves! We want you to join in on the fun. Give us a tour of your bookshelves in the comments, on Facebook, or on Twitter @SavvyReader!

Happy reading,

Jesse

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