BOOK TAG: Shelfie by Shelfie #2

The Margaret Atwood Shelfie


My brilliant and industrious book blogging buddy, Jennifer from Tar Heel Reader, brought to my attention a rather fun tag in which one shares a picture (or ‘shelfie’) of a favourite bookshelf and then answers ten predetermined questions about the titles displayed thereon. The tag and logo were created by Beth of Bibliobeth (please do visit her blog for more in-depth details regarding this jolly).

You are no doubt all too familiar with the ancient Greek cliché: to ‘kill two birds with one stone’. Well, my second Shelfie by Shelfie aims to meld two reading activities into one post. Through November, fellow Atwoodians across the book blogging community celebrate Margaret Atwood Reading Month. It is an annual challenge hosted by Naomi at Consumed by Ink and Marcie at Buried in Print to encourage participants to read, analyse, discuss and generally roll around with abandon in the works of this uniquely talented author’s work. The Atwoodfest begins for me with a shelfie.


The Shelfie



The Questions

1) Is there any reason for this shelf being organised the way it is or is it purely random?

Due to an unfortunate muddle at the design stage, my library lacks lofty shelves – I therefore struggle to accommodate tall books. Although my Margaret Atwood section does at least have the required height to stand a hardback edition of MaddAddam upright, it is also somewhat compact (i.e. cramped) and lacking in length.

The shelf you see in the picture is temporary, and over time, I hope, nay expect, to increase my Atwood collection. Since this is an interim arrangement, the titles haven’t been chronologically or alphabetically ordered. So, there they will remain, randomly clustered together in typically Atwoodian heterogeneity, until I move to a new house (soonish, I hope) and establish a functional and more aesthetically appealing billet for my books.

2) Tell us a story about one of the books on this shelf that is special to you i.e. how you got it / a memory associated with it etc.

Please don’t think me a contrarian (at least, not unreasonably so), but this story relates to a book not currently on my shelf.

When I examined the picture in detail, I realised one of my Atwood’s was missing: Oryx and Crake, the first Speculative Fiction novel in her MaddAddam trilogy. After the initial shock, which required a whiff of smelling salts as I lay verklempt on the chaise longue, I recalled packing it in my suitcase for Cyprus some years ago – leading me conclude that I may have left it at my friends’ apartment (now shut up for the winter). I will leave no dust sheet undisturbed when I return there in September – and woe betide the culprit if it is propping open a door or stabilizing a wonky table leg. Until then, I will quietly mourn its absence.

3) Which book from this shelf would you ditch if you were forced to and why?

We’ll have none of that, thank you very much. I point blank refuse to part with another Atwood. They’re “mine, I tell you. My own. My precious.” Oops! Wrong author.

4) Which book from this shelf would you save in an emergency and why?

Hmmm… Can I not save them all? Well, I suppose if for instance a tsunami was about to engulf my home, I may grab The Handmaid’s Tale. It is, after all, one of my all-time favourite books.

5) Which book has been on this shelf for the longest time?

Although I first read The Handmaid’s Tale in the mid eighties, the copy I devoured was on loan from Llandudno Library. The edition you see in the shelfie (published by Vintage in 1996) was acquired several years later. Since we’re seeking longevity, the title that takes the crown is Atwood’s Man Booker Prize winning The Blind Assassin, which I purchased new from Quality Paperbacks Direct in 2000.

6) Which book is the newest addition to this shelf?

The newest addition was a gift from my mum last August and is also visible in my inaugural Birthday Shelfie. It is Atwood’s 1976 parody of Gothic romances, Lady Oracle, published by Virago Press in 2009.

7) Which book from this shelf are you most excited to read (or re-read if this is a favourites shelf?)

I’m invariably most enthused over whichever Atwood title I have in my hand. At present it’s her 1981 novel Bodily Harm.

8) If there is an object on this shelf apart from books, tell us the story behind it.

The object you see is a cuckoo chick sitting in a nest. It was a gift from a very dear but dotty American friend on my 21st birthday, and I must say, it made an intriguing change from the many decorative keys to the door and other shiny coming-of-age trinkets I recieved – most of which are now packed away in the loft. I know, I know… it seems so ungrateful, it’s just… Well, what do you do with them?

Anyhow, the eternally immature cuckoo, while having nothing whatsoever to do with Margaret Atwood, has always sat on her shelf because it appears to be content there. She is, after all, a life-long conservationist and birder, so I’m sure she doesn’t mind.

9) What does this shelf tell us about you as a reader?

It’s a wild guess, but this shelf may well lead others to conclude that I’m partial to the works of Margaret Atwood.

10) Choose other bloggers to tag or choose a free question you make up yourself.

I won’t nominate any individual blogger as this tag is open to all who fancy taking part, but I encourage Atwoodians everywhere to share their shelfies during November.


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37 replies

  1. Love the Atwood shelf!

  2. Fab shelf – I am currently reading the very same HB edition of Maddaddam.

  3. This is so fantastic, Paula! I had to google “dotty,” and does it mean mad and eccentric in your usage? 😂 I love that cuckoo! It looks adorable on that shelf. I am so sorry to admit this to you, but years ago, I picked up my one and only Atwood book, The Handmaid’s Tale, and it did not suit my mood at the time. I was a moody reader then; quite dotty actually. 😂 I’ve been scared to pick it back up, but now I know I need to. With you showing this much devotion to an author, I have to give her another try- easy peasy. Your mom always gives you the most thoughtful books! Lastly, I hope you find the missing book in Cyprus! When you go in September, are you bringing the dog back?? ♥️

    • Heh heh! I forget our language isn’t always the same. My American friend (who now lives in Australia) is indeed eccentric, but in the best possible way. I call her dotty with great fondness and an abundance of hilarious memories. Wherever I go, the cuckoo accompanies me! 🤪

      Don’t worry, Jennifer, I know Atwood isn’t for everyone. I wouldn’t think any less of you for not loving The Handmaid’s Tale. The thing with our Maggie is you never quite know from which direction she’s going to come at you. You can’t fit her into a box, she’s extremely perceptive and has a wicked sense of humour, which is always bubbling away beneath the surface. It’s quite possible for someone to dislike her dystopian work but really enjoy her historical fiction or feminist novels, for instance. If you decide to try her work again, it may be worth starting out with a different book. 🤔

      Olive has had her rabies jab, so she should be with us sometime in January. She will fly from Southern Cyprus to Belgium, where she will collect her EU papers, then we will meet her in Kent. Can’t wait! 🐕

      Hope all is well with you and the hummers. 💙

      • I quite enjoy “dotty!” I wish I could use it here! 😂 Ah, that is fantastic advice, Paula. I’ll try a different genre from her. Will you get to see Olive when you visit in September? Clearly I have some attachment issues with dogs! ♥️

        Our hummers must have gone farther south for the winter. 😔 It’s just that time of year. Fall is really upon us, and the cool nights are too much for them. We’ll blink, and spring will be back, and so will they. Right now we are having an abundance of (black-capped) chickadees. I wonder if you have those there? ♥️

      • Olive will be in the UK with her new doggy sisters by September (all being well, she’ll be here in 3 months)! 😃🐶🐾

        I’m sad to hear the hummers have left for the winter – the chickadees must be wearing their woolly hats and wing mits. I didn’t recognise the name of the species but upon further investigation it looks similar to our coal tit. I wonder, do you get long-tailed tits? They’re gorgeous little things that flit about in cacophonous mobs raiding the nut feeders. We often see migrants on their way to warmer climes stopping off here at this time of year, too. Sadly, no hummers, though. 😢💙

      • Gosh, I really got confused, thinking September was coming up soon for a minute. 😂 I’m going to blame early morning reading for that?! Ok, three more months until Olive comes home. ♥️

        I just did a quick google and the chickadees are more closely related to your Willow and Marsh tits, though I have to say they do look like the Coal, especially the head. No long-tailed tits, unfortunately, and how beautiful they are! We have a tufted tit mouse (bird) that I love! It usually stays year round. In college, I had a biology lab where one of my assignments was learning the different birdsongs, so I know how to identify a chickadee by sound! Not sure about the titmouse though! ♥️

      • No worries, I do that sort of thing all the time. At least I can put it down to having a senior moment these days!

        The tufted titmouse looks delightful. I wonder if we share any birds at all? I’m sure there must be one or two! 🐔 (Other than the obvious, of course.) 💙

  4. What a lovely idea. I enjoyed reading this and the Birthday Shelfie post which I had somehow missed. Thank you, Paula. Although I now think my own shelves need a bit of a tidy up & reorganisation!

  5. What another wonderful way to learn more about our fellow book bloggers.

  6. Lovely! I too have a QPD Blind Assassin (i used to be in a number of those book clubs). I so want to read Atwood this month but I don’t know what to choose!!!!

  7. Oh, I just love this! I wish it wasn’t night just now, so I could snap a picture myself. Thanks for the inspiration and enthusiasm about this outstanding author! (I hope you find your missing volume of the trilogy in good shape. And I love that you refuse to part with any single one of them. Look forward to hearing about your experience with Bodily Harm!)

  8. This is so much fun!
    Funny thing… I am also missing my copy of Oryx and Crake. Well, I know what happened – I lent it to someone to read and she didn’t give it back (which had never happened to me before!). She has since moved away, so I’m not holding out much hope for it. But I do wonder what she did with it…

    • How odd we should both lose the same MA volume. Oh, that’s so frustrating – some people don’t realise the importance of our books. It’s happened to me in the past. 😪

      • Now that’s just weird. Given that at least one character in O&C ends up seeming to disappear. I wonder if there’s a support group for the missing and lost O&C copies out in the world, drifting.

      • An Oryx and Crake Crimes Unit should be set up to investigate the disappearances

  9. Thank you SO much again and loved seeing your Atwood Shelfie. 😍 She’s such a legend, you’ve just reminded me how many of her books I still have to read. Very much looking forward to it too!!

  10. Lovely shelf Paula! I used to buy so many from Quality Paperbacks Direct 🙂 Margaret Atwood Reading Month is such a great idea.

  11. I do love seeing how others organise their shelves. I feel your pain about tall books not fitting, I have to lay so many down on one of my bookshelves. I am in need of some more tall bookshelves. My Genre’s are mixed at the moment. grr.


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