Wednesday, August 20, 2008

English 101: The Perfectly Pretentious Bookshelf

-The pretentious bookshelf is a staple of college-aged dwellings that I both love and hate equally. Really, if you have any collection of books on display, you are making a statement about how you want to be perceived. The only way to avoid this is to, I don't know, get all your books at the library? But what does that say about you? I'm poor? The point is, any book that any intelligent person may have read may look pretentious on your shelf; So you might as well embrace the process of crafting the perfectly pretentious bookshelf (ppb.) Everyone knows that the only purpose of displaying one's books to impress and incite inferiority in those who believe themselves, falsely, to be our intellectual equals (aka women.)
-I've constructed this photographic essay to help you ensure that your shelf doesn't induce scoffs (both Safran Foer novels, really?) or make you seem illiterate (A Series of Unfortunate Events?), as well as to inform you how to make irrational judgments and generalities about people you meet based solely on their book's covers (get it?) So check the photos and analysis after the jump.

Firstly this examination requires a few notes -
[A: Someone will probably comment that the photos look staged. Yes, I moved some books out of the way of other books, and grouped a few by similar themes, get over it.]
[2: The word essay is used very loosely, it is certainly not an essay by any academic definition] and
[D: This post wanders between self-mocking sarcasm and self-aggrandizing sincerity. Now scroll down.]

-All photos are click to enlarge

-If you believe, as we do, that one of the main goals as a human is to bell-rounded, then your ppb should reflect this. If you've got only classics, it looks like you're trying too hard. Only modern, then you've got no respect for your elders. Non-fiction/fiction is another balancing point. Oh and before I move on, the key to impressing people is obviously to only display books you've actually read, or books that you're planning on reading very soon. This rule does not apply to books purchased because they were required for a class, however, because no one would expect you to have read those. Moving on:

-All Quiet is the only war novel anyone need own. When talking about it's greatness, be sure to note how you think translation alters the intricacy of Remarque's spontaneous bursts of poetic language, and that you're planning on learning German so you can enjoy it as Germans did before Hitler banned it. An essential for any ppb. Oh an Utopia, that's one most people will know of but not have read, so they can't quiz you on it and reveal that you haven't read it, either.

-Put some other things on your shelf, after all, it is a shelf. It's a chance for you to show how, say, you have a real Diana-F not the reproductions they sell at Urban Outfitters. And a mate (mah-tay) from Argentina, how fucking indie is that? Very.

-And a camera that actually uses film, crazy. Also, put books in front of other books, showing that you just have so many fucking books you don't have anywhere to put them all.

-Oh yeah, having a couple textbooks that's a good one too. "Yeah I really needed the money, but I just couldn't sell it back." Also throw a graphic novel into the mix to aid the diversity of your collection. Also, not having a complete series of something (like only the later, better, Harry Potter books.)

-Oh this is a good one, political books. Show that you're edgy with the conspiracy theory books, yet informed and grounded with an Iraq war (or even Gulf War) book.

-This one shows a nice balance of zeitgeist authors of the past decade (Eggers, Pulahniuk) and favorites of your parents (Heller, Vonnegut.)

-More horizontal stacking. Also, the inclusion of young adult fiction (The Golden Compass) tells prospective mates that you would be a good parent who would read to your children nightly. Or maybe just a huge nerd who reads young-adult fantasy.

-Some might argue that you need all hardbacks to be legit, but I think paperbacks say "I want to be able to take my book in my pocket, and I want the lines in the cover to match the lines in my face as I continue to love this book over the years." Also, interesting and unintentional pairing of Heart of Darkness and American Psycho, maybe argue that Bateman is a modern day Kurtz?

-This one is the killer. Nothing is more pretentious than unnecessarily old copies of books. Especially if you have 2 copies of the same book, as pictured. I purchased most of these at the Salvation Army. I especially like the Frankenstein (3rd in from right) because all of the labels on the outside are worn off. You can't even tell what fucking book it is.

-And then finally, extensions of the ppb. Because you can't just keep your books on the shelf all the time, you have to actually re-read them. And what better place to read/display than in your bathroom. Better to keep your bathroom reading material on top instead of on the floor or on a rack, that way when some drunk girl is puking in your toilet, the first thing she thinks when she raises her head is "Wow, this guy is classy."

-So that's it. You're probably thinking "I just wasted 5 minutes because some douche bag wanted to take pretentious pictures of his pretentious books." You are right.


caitlin said...

the golden compass is the same book i use to bring some young-adult diversity to my ppb. nice work.

Anonymous said...

I just found this and dude, it is awesome lol.