I recently came across a new book being published this May titled “The Shelf: From LEQ to LES: Adventures in Extreme Reading” by Phyllis Rose. The author embarked on a literary experiment by randomly selecting and reading an entire row of books from the fiction collection of her local library…and then wrote about her literary adventure. What a novel idea (yes, pun fully intended)!
I thought I’d give a go at this concept and see where it got me. I popped down to my fiction section and did some counting: we have 84 bays of books with either 5 or 6 shelves in each. Using a handy online random number generator , I came up with Shelf #1 in Bay #36. I crossed my fingers in the hopes that my randomly generated shelf wasn’t made up of a single prolific author, say an entire row of James Patterson or Danielle Steel. To my relief, I ended up in the letter H (HARRIS to HARRISON) with a row that showed a surprising amount of variety. You can see for yourself in the photo – there are mysteries, a few thrillers, some non-genre titles, a science fiction book and a couple collections of short stories. Hmm I might have just created my summer reading list!
If an entire row is too ambitious, a colleague suggested that people go to their randomly selected shelf and measure out the length of their arm from elbow to hand to create an “armful of reads”. For an even smaller selection, why not measure it out against your shoe size? Just please wipe off any dirt or snow first! You could even use the random number generator to select a specific single book from the shelf. Give it a try and let us know what you come up with! In a related question, what’s the strangest way you ever chose a book(s) to read?