Jonathon Seidl writes:
Sure, you’re right that a book shelf can (but not always) say something about a person. Two things, however:
1. So, too, does asking, “Hey, what are you currently reading?” That’s the less creepy approach.
2. You can’t judge a book by its cover. Bam! I just hit you with a corny, overused cliche. How do you feel now?
On the first count, asking what someone is currently reading is barely informative. For example, I am currently reading an advance copy of The Psychopath Test by Jon Ronson (highly recommend). If that was all you knew I was reading you might jump to the conclusion that I was interested in psychology - or that I was a psychopath (I'm not because I now know the test). In order to really make a solid judgement you'd have to see all my books, in which case you'd come to realize I'm obsessed with World War II, France, the IRA and trivia. Scouring someone's bookshelf for a fuller picture may be creepy but asking “What are all the books you have ever read?” also comes off weird.
On the second point, I do believe you can often judge a book by its cover (it's Contrary Tuesday).
But let’s play your little game. Below are two pictures showing two of my book shelves. This is not my entire collection, mind you. Tell me, what do these say about me?
Based on my unscientific and totally subjective analysis coupled with some focal issues, I have arrived at the following conclusions:
1. Definitely attended college.
2. Probably took some kind of philosophy class.
3. Probably took a class on the Constitution.
4. Very interested in economics.
5. Likely a Libertarian view of markets.
6. Some flavor of Christian.
7. Lean toward buying Veggie Tales movies for the kids.
8.May have played World of Warcraft.
9. Mobile phone has lousy camera.