Guest Post: Welcome to my Bookshelves with Emma Chapman

A Tour of My Bookshelves

I was recently offered a wonderful piece of advice, originally spoken by the film director and comedian John Waters.

N.B. John Waters used slightly different language (unsuitable for this blog)

The first thing I do when I visit someone’s home is to look at their bookshelves.  I love to see what other people read: it gives a great insight into their personalities.  It’s like looking at what artwork they choose to have on the walls: a very good indicator of another person’s tastes. It can also act as a great conversation starter.

Thank you Emily, for inviting me to share my bookshelves.  It won’t take long: I have a limited ration of books in my apartment in Indonesia as most of them are in storage in the UK.  You’ll be pleased I’m not taking you through all of those: there are hundreds of them.  I have a horrible medical condition that prevents me from ever throwing a book away.  I got it from my father. 

Living overseas forces me to be careful.  I only brought a few books with me: the rest are ones I have bought or been sent as gifts.  I’m constantly promising not to buy any more books.  I lived in Perth for 4 years, and when we left, the majority of what we sent home (20 huge packing boxes) was books.  I haven’t read them all.  That’s the problem.  I know I will: one day.  Either that or I’ll start a bookshop, where I will refuse to sell any of the books to customers. 

I’ll let the shelves speak for themselves, but here are a few interesting facts about my choices: 
         I bought Big Brother by Lionel Shriver at Ubud Writers’ Festival last year, where I saw her talk about the book.  I was totally star struck. 
      I recently wrote a series of blog posts about Donna Tartt’s books, and may have become her biggest fan as a result.

      You’ll spot a lot of books about photography, the Vietnam war and foreign correspondents: research for my new novel, about a war photographer

      I have been meaning to read the Bible (and other famous religious texts) for a long time.  I’m not religious, but I feel it’s something so intrinsic to so many cultures that they need to be read.

      I studied the poems of Keats and Wilfred Owen at school.  I keep them around as reminders of brilliance.
      I’ve not read almost half of these books (and I need to stop buying new ones)
      The books I would most recommend would be Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn and Mrs Hemingway by Naomi Wood
      The History of Exploration is my husband’s and shows our utterly different interests: he’s a geologist
      I’ve been learning Bahasa Indonesian for six months and it still gives me a small thrill when I understand something
      The big yellow ornament just visible on the top shelf is a model of a giant Durian fruit.  It’s the emblem of Jakarta, which people call The Big Durian due to the fact that people either love it or hate it. 

You’ll also be able to make out my inspiration frame, filled with quotes to keep me going.  Here’s a close up view of it.  I also have a pin board filled with pictures of setting, time and place of the current chapter of my work-in-progress. 

Thank you for taking the tour with me! I hope it made you feel better about your own book hoarding habits.  Have you read any of these? 

Emma Chapman's first novel, How to be a Good Wife was published in early 2013, to critical acclaim.  The paperback is available now at all good bookstores!

You can visit Emma at her blog, which is or send her a tweet using her handle, which is @emmajchapman

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