love you ’till the end

Bethan
Exeter

Tell us about your bookcase

Having taken over a second room in my family home, I am now the proud owner of two Ikea bookcases. After 18 months(ish) of running a bookcase blog I am about to expose myself as a massive hypocrite. Please witness my bookcase/deodorant/skincare stand in all its glory.

Thank you to all our contributors who have inspired me to reorganise my shelves. One day I might even get round to it.

How have you organised your books?

My books can be organised into the following categories:

  • Childhood favourites
  • Politics/Economics (of which I have read 1/5)
  • Theology/Biblical reference books
  • Text books for various languages that I have attempted to learn (my duolingo app is currently sulking at me)
  • Horror (mainly Stephen King, but I am open to new authors)
  • Books that friends have given me for special occasions. 

My second bookcase is largely devoted to therapy/counselling books. I am a trainee counsellor and I am mainly hoping that I acquire the knowledge by osmosis because I haven’t read them all.

Are these all of them?

Nej. Some are in boxes in my attic room.

Some of my books are on loan to friends (one of life’s great joys is sharing books with one another). Some are in my family bookcases or on my Mum/Brother’s shelves waiting to be rescued.

Be honest now, have you read them all?,

Absolutely not. I have tried to implement a ‘do not buy anymore before reading what I have’ policy. I have had this in place since 2016 and am yet to stick to it.

Oldest book

The Story of San Michele by Axel Munthe. It was a gift from my Grandpa (who’s greatest gift to me has been his love of books). The inscription reads Phyllis, Christmas 1939. So I suppose it’s quite old! 

I have yet to read it.

Newest book

The Ex-Girlfriend of My Ex-Girlfriend is My Girlfriend: Advice on Queer, Dating, Love and Friendship by Maddy Court. A gift from one of my dearest friends. I guess she was trying to tell me I need a lil help.

Most reread

Probably a book called Wolf Brother by Michelle Paver. It’s the first in a beautiful series called The Chronicles of Ancient Darkness. Michelle once replied to a letter I wrote her as a child. I have it framed in my room. It’s my pride and joy (along with my autographed Hayden Christensen photograph).

Biggest influence

Are Prisons Obsolete? by Angela Davis.

Marginalia? Pen or pencil?

*Bishop Bullwinkle Voice* Hell to the No-No-No. 

I am very protective of books, so if I wanted to make a note I would put a post- it on it. An art project once required me to defile a book, I refused and used a text book instead.

E-readers?

Love them. One of humanity’s greatest inventions (along with the pumpkin spiced latte). Perfect for holidays (remember those?).

Favourite bookshop?

We do not have enough indie bookshops in Exeter! I love browsing Gays the Word and cannot wait to make a pilgrimage when it is safe.

Any books you just can’t finish?

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo. It was too depressing so I gave up half-way through.

What’s by your bed?

A can of Diet Coke, a  neglected book, and some spare change. 

A stack of books that make up my ever-growing ‘TBR’ pile.

Ten books you’d save from fire or flood

The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S Lewis – Yes, I’m going to cheat as there are 7, but I find it hard to separate them, really. Narnia is a world I return to again and again when life is hard. I find so much comfort in these books. They are a source of light to me, even though they get dark (see: the Last Battle).

The Hobbit by J.R.R Tolkien. I have already waxed lyrical about the film adaptation of LOTR(https://medium.com/@bethanknight1/to-all-the-films-ive-loved-before-the-lord-of-the-rings-986472de696a). The Hobbit is my favourite of Tolkien’s writings because of the child-like wonder in the pages, and all of the singing. I guess Tolkien made me want to be a better writer. His descriptions are unreal (who else can take half a page to discuss a tree?) and the man created his own language(s). What a talent.

Lewis and Tolkien shaped my writing forever. They opened my imagination and showed me what other worlds look like. They are the reason I spent so much of my childhood with my head in a book. I’m also grateful that neither of them ever had a twitter account. The story of their friendship is so wonderful too. Sharing writing tips/snippets with friends is another one of the greatest joys in life.


IT by Stephen King. Horror is THE genre for exploring trauma and loss (see also The Haunting of Bly Manor on Netflix). IT is a book that is over 1000 pages, and I am considering re-reading it for 1000 pages. It’s scary AF, but the friendship theme is so well explored.


The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath. I am a sad girl (I am, I am, I am), so of course I love this novel. At times it is relatable, and at times I roll my eyes. Amazing that there has never been a successful adaptation of this book. Greta Gerwig, wuu2?


Death of a Naturalist by Seamus Heaney. I’m not sure that I believe in marriage, but best believe if I get married, ‘Scaffolding‘ will be read at mine.


A Little Life by Hanya Yanagihara. This book shattered my heart into a thousand pieces. I can’t wait to read it again.


Emma by Jane Austen. Like Emma Woodhouse, I am in everyone’s business but my own. Truly the most relatable heroine (although I love Lizzie Bennett).


Orientalism by Edward Said. One of the books from my English Literature degree that I actually remember, it made me reconsider the world and the lens through which I view pop culture (and everything really).


The Screwtape Letters by C.S Lewis. I love anything to do with angels and devils. If I was a publisher or someone who uses puns, I would describe it as ‘devilishly funny.’


Rule Britannia by Daphne du Maurier. Maeve and I have always given each other books on special occasions, and this was a gift from her. It’s a book that manages to make Cornwall sound exciting.

Sadly I’ve lost my copy of The Screwtape Letters, and A Little Life is on my kindle.

One book you’d recommend to everyone

This is like picking a favourite child. I like the thought of the Bible, as it is, to quote a friend of mine: ‘One huge metaphor init?’

However, I will probably say IT, because of how it intertwines childhood trauma with the horror genre (a demon clown is quite horrific), and how it is a testament to the power of friendship.

An honourable mention must go to Why I Am No Longer Talking to White People About Race by Reni Eddo-Lodge. I think this is the book that I recommend most often.

I’d like to thank everyone who has contributed to, read, and shared our blog. Thank you to Maeve for getting me to do something productive during Covid. May your memory be a blessing.


Bethan has very much enjoyed snooping around all of your bookcases. She may return, but for now she will be resting and training to be a counsellor. You can read her short stories/film ramblings here: https://medium.com/@bethanknight1


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Published by shelf absorption

everything you ever wanted to know about other people’s bookcases

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