Well, the shelves themselves aren't interesting. They're pretty and contribute a specific atmosphere to a room's decor. But that's not what I wanted to write about! What's more interesting is what people put on their bookshelves.
A person's shelves obviously do not hold every book the owner has ever read. That would be ridiculous. The average person (hopefully!) has a wide reading portfolio supplemented by loans from friends and the local library.
Some people might put every book they own on their shelves. I wouldn't begrudge such a person since that was me up until today! I am not a person who often rereads books, so I am putting my less frequently used books into storage to consolidate the two bookshelves in my bedroom into one. This way I reduce some visual clutter in my bedroom and my kitchen gets some direly needed shelving.
While my intent was utilitarian, when picking and choosing which books to keep on the remaining bookshelf I caught myself wondering why I was selecting each book. Was I keeping "Machete Season" because I wanted to seem compassionate? Am I holding onto Shakespeare so I appear to be intelligent or sophisticated? Are songbooks and books on art and design placed prominently so I look more interesting or do I honestly think I'll be referring to them in the next 6 months? If the technical references dwarf the fiction, will I seem stodgy?
Ultimately I believe I chose to keep the books I will be reading relatively soon, since I am if nothing else a pragmatic person. It did, however, lead to an interesting line of thought.
I never considered the bookshelf that was carefully groomed. It always seemed interesting to see what a person kept on their bookshelves because what we read reveals much of who we are. Now I realize what I once considered to be an uncensored slice of a person's life and interests may be a deliberately crafted image which is biased by how the owner views himself or how the owner wishes to be perceived by others.