If Your Bookshelf Could Talk, What Would It Say About You?


Do you have a dear friend who always floats your boat?

One who emails you everyday reminding you of all that is good in your world? Who discusses books and life? I am blessed with a fun, brilliant, academically gifted friend like that.

The idea for this blog bounced around in my neurons after my positive psychology metaphorically gifted buddy lady, psychologist Marvelous Marion Levine, “MM”, emailed me. Marion recently moved to Colorado, but her stories about her former life in Long Island and Manhattan, NY, are the ones my psyche loves to hear most. She shared an office with Dr. Phillip Zimbardo, famed pioneer psychologist. She has tons of tales about TV and movie stars. She literally ran into Brad Pitt on the street. Barbara Walters and Marion shared the same doctor. What a life! But I digress.

The other day, Marion wrote how she was tickled pink and yelling, “YES!”. Her beloved bookcase had finally been delivered. Her book babies were rescued from taped up boxes, held captive way too long. Marion’s joyful spirit spilled over into my welcoming world. Our mutual love of books gave me pause and got me thinking.

I remembered positive psychology research indicating emotions are contagious.

They sure a heck are! Smiling, I jaunted up from my computer. With glee, I realized I had never actively thanked my books!

I stood in front of my huge bank of book shelves. Surveyed them with honor, I respected them with full attention. I glorified them with a deep bow of gratitude for blessing my world. Fun! Then seriously, I studied them.

The old timers books, like my grandfather’s book of poetry, have been long distance travelers. Delaware, Virginia, Maryland, Germany, Michigan, Canada, and finally WI and Puerto Vallarta, MX. Wow! Who would have imagined I would live a life so full. Have I ever been lucky! Mom used to say that, too. Gratitude is one word with a gigantic meaning.

Like Marion, these books have been my dear friends, too.


These book micro-moments of love (can you imagine positive psychology researcher, Barb Fredrickson’s book shelves?) have sustained me my whole life. Always a refuge and perennial purveyor of joy. (Remember JOY is one of the 10 positive emotions).

I decided to look at my book themes.

There are the tracks of my life, loud and clear. Books mirror my universe. Each decade new interests added to the shelves of my love of learning. I noticed half are psych books, a quarter are coaching. The rest are art and beauty, poetry, design, gardening, photography, travel, wisdom, paranormal, and autobiographies. Sean has many books shelves-full waiting for his kids, too. Someday.

Thinking back on the books I used to read Sean, I paused again, trying to resurrect memories of my first books. I remember being angry when I was perhaps five. In those days, there was no kindergarten in Delaware, but the seeds of my learning were begging to be planted. I picked up a book and couldn’t read it. Upset, I asked my mom why I couldn’t read. She gently explained I needed to be taught. I had to wait till first grade. I was not a happy camper. Not the most patient color in the crayon box, I expressed my chagrin to my grandmother, Mom Mom. That’s when the fun began. I spent most of that summer with her and Pop Pop on the farm. Glorious days of sunshine, fresh eggs, meat, pickles, preserves, veggies from the root cellar..but best of all a primer reading book.

One night, when my Mom came to pick me up, Mom Mom told her I had read a Reader’s Digest magazine cover to cover. Always careful and never one to exaggerate, Mom kindly asked me to read to her. Shocked, she queried Mom Mom, “When did she learn to read?” When the student is ready, the teacher will appear.

The back story was Mom Mom, Essie Maude Robinson Redden, had been dismissed from her teaching career when she got pregnant later in life (Thank God for women’s rights!). She joyfully resurrected her skills and graced me with her fantastic tutoring. Told you I was lucky. Don’t you love a win-win?

At home, I remembered sitting by myself reading in the small bedroom I shared with my sister. The bottom bunk was my haven. My first books were the Children’s Book of Verse, Grimm’s Fairy Tales, Little Black Sambo, Misty, The Chincoteague Pony, The Little Train That Could, and The Little Gingerbread Boy.

We were always tight for money, but in summer, I could ride my bike to the traveling library bookmobile. A big deal for a six year old. I savored those books like a thirsty nomad on the Sahara Desert.

Back to adult reality.

I muse, “If my books could talk, what tales would they tell me about me?

I gaze loving at my shelves. Curious, I wondered how many bookcases I have. Traversing upstairs and down, I had an eyebrow-raising count. Eight bookcases. Several floor to ceiling and the most fun place, many shelves under our stairs going downstairs. Sean’s book reading hiding place.

Books. Life.


My senses savor all 10 positive emotions flitting though the pages of my treasured books: Joy, gratitude, serenity, interest, hope, pride, amusement, awe and love. Sweet!

I also happily notice the positive psychology 24 character strengths dancing happily on my shelves. Creativity, curiosity, love of learning, appreciation of art and excellence and gratitude reign as my literary top 5.

Books and every beloved National Geographic Magazine opened my life’s pages to the wonders of the world. To places I would never have imaged I’d actually see some day. These books came to life in real time. Life is amazing.

Marion Levine’s bookshelf, bless you! This blog bubbled up into my consciousness because your joy spilled over into mine. To “Maven of the Mostest”, mammoth-talented Marion Levine, I dedicate this blog to you.

If your bookshelves could talk, what stories would they tell about you?

Happy reading between the lines.