Sunday, April 24, 2011

Reading into my Soul

“Your library is your portrait.” –Holbrook Jackson

I came across the above quote a few weeks ago, but I didn’t think much of it. I have a few books at school with me, but not enough to be considered a “library”. So I saved it in my “Interesting Quotes” document in Word and forgot about it.

But this weekend I went home and I found myself staring at the two bookshelves in my room, wondering if it was true. Did my bookshelves reflect me? Would someone looking at those shelves know the essence of Emily E. Sears?

And what I realized is that they would. They would KNOW me, know my interests, know my values, and know what is important to me. My bookshelves are a reflection of myself. They show my past, my present and my future. As cheesy as it sounds, I truly believe my “essence” is contained within those shelves. 

Someone examining the shelves for my essence would first have to notice the sheer number of books. Not only is every space full, but books are stacked on top of each other and there is more than one row of books on each shelf. The mere fact that I have TWO bookshelves in my room shows my love of books. When I got my second shelf, I jumped up and down while my Dad put it together, exclaiming “Now I can get even MORE books!!”

The second thing they would probably notice is the unorganized structure of the books. This would seem contrary to my nature (a total stranger would think I hate organization which is absolutely NOT true), but due to the sheer number of books I have (see above) it is impossible for me to organize my shelves. Books go wherever there is room. But there is one exception—my series of books. Every series that I own goes with its mates. I think the unknown observer would realize that I love series. Within my shelves I have the Chronicles of Narnia, all the Anne of Green Gables books, the Little House on the Prairie series, and Nancy Drew books, among others. I have nearly an entire shelf dedicated to the Chicken Soup for the Soul series (last time I counted I had about 20 of those books from every stage of life).

But the main series on my shelf is (of course) Harry Potter. I have all 7 of the main novels along with 3 companion books. These 10 books sit exactly at eye level—the 3rd shelf of the first bookcase—the prime spot if you will. One looking at the shelf has to know I am a major Harry Potter nerd (and if they needed any more confirmation, they merely have to turn to the right of my shelves and see the giant poster of the HP Trio on the wall).

My books are reflective of my life. They show where I’ve been versus where I’m going. There are books from high school that I hated reading at 15 that I now love. There are travel guides that I poured over while I was planning my trips to London, Paris, Rome, Alaska, Scandinavia. There are books I received as a child that I still love and will always love no matter what my age. There are books that I currently use and love—books on religion that I study, books on history that now go with my major, books on journalism that still interest me. There are books on my future goals—books on editing, on playwriting, books describing places that I have not been yet but want to desperately. Books on getting published, books on growing up. There are books that I fully intend to pass on to my children.

Most of all, the books on my shelves show my interests. The majority of my books are either Christian fiction/study books, historical fiction and nonfiction, travel books/guides, or romance novels. Doesn’t that just sound like me? Logically it makes sense—why would I keep a book that didn’t interest me? But I just like knowing that those books are “me”. I like knowing that if I had to describe myself without any kind of words I could merely take someone to my 2 bookshelves and point.

Don’t judge a book by its cover, but do judge a reader by the contents of their bookcases.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

What People Notice, What People Know

I was thinking about how I recognize people the other day. As some of you might know, I spend a lot of my time at the TCU Wesley Foundation’s house. This house has a parking lot that is often full of cars. I know the cars. I know the people in those cars.

I recognize who is there based on their car. Once I cross the parking lot, and enter the back door, I’m expecting to see a certain person there. If there’s a turquoise car, it’s Abby. A tan car? Bennett. A white van? Taylor. A blue truck? Kelly. If they are not there I feel a bit cheated. Of course in the middle of the day, most people just park there and then go to class. But if I’m walking in for Thursday Night Fellowship at 7 and your car is there, I’m looking for you.

Why are people’s belongings so recognizable? How do we make associations? I feel like a Psych major.

Another example in my life. When it comes to eating out, I’m a “If it’s not broke why fix it?” type of girl. I always order the same things at most restaurants. But this is more about the recognition of my choices. At the Starbucks near Target in Rockwall, I have established a relationship. For the longest time I was A-Grande-Caramel-Macchiato-With-Three-Vanilla-Scones-If-You-Have-Them Girl. The workers KNEW me, knew my order. Why did it matter so much to me? I was associated with my coffee order for the longest time, and I liked that. (Eventually we got on a first-name basis until I went off to college. Now there are new people working there, and my days as A-Grande-Caramel-Macchiato-With-Three-Vanilla-Scones-If-You-Have-Them Girl are over.) I worked at the Target in Rockwall, so I came to that Starbucks often, either for sustenance pre-work or for a OMG-I-Survived-Another-Shift celebratory drink post-work. They knew me because I was reliable, a quality that I both love and hate about myself.

Lest you think my days of building relationships with restaurateurs are over, I would like to inform you that at Red Cactus I am now Chicken-Taco-Plate-With-Flour-Tortillas-And-Double-Rice Girl. I’ve got two more years to get on a first-name basis.

I guess my point is, whether you like it or not, people know you by the things you do and the things you own. If you always drive a blue car, people know. If you get the same meal, people notice. Even people you might not expect to. People notice the good things you do and the bad. So be aware.