I stumbled across Explain Your Shelf recently. It’s a neat little blog with a simple premise: authors take photos of their bookshelves and write something about their contents. Some great posts up there from great writers, including Nuala O’Connor (back when she was publishing as Nuala Ní Chonchúir) and Alex Cox. Unfortunately, it seems that the last post there was in 2015. In the absence of being able to send in my own, I thought I would post my own entry here, if only for myself to read. So here it is:


Explain Your Shelf

This is the shelf that stands directly behind me as I sit at my writing desk. The top three shelves are filled with short story collections by many of my favourite authors, along with a few anthologies containing my own work. The lowest shelf show here crammed with various books on writing that I dip into and refer to from time to time. My study is tiny, so all of these books are within easy reach, I can simply spin round in my office chair and grab what I need without even getting up.

The wee figure holding the whiteboard you can see is Patty from the Tom Perrotta novel (and TV show) The Leftovers. She is holding a whiteboard with the words “Your pain doesn’t matter’ written on it, words which I find strangely consoling, especially considering her role in the narrative of The Leftovers. The TV headed gentleman is Prince Robot from one of my favourite comic books, Saga by Brian K. Vaughan and Fiona Staples. Both Saga and The Leftovers are real favourites of mine, for the sheer quality and impact of their narratives. As a writer, it is always good to be reminded of what good writing looks and feels like.

Out of shot, below the books on writing are my hardback collections of short fiction and novels I love, including Alisdair Gray’s Every Short Story, George Saunders’ Tenth of December and Lincoln in the Bardo, a whole host of David Mitchell novellas pretending to be novels, my Poe and Kafka collections, some John Irving, some Jim Crace, and some Murakami.

The walls of my study are lined with three more book cases, all crammed and overflowing with other good stuff (to me at least). I might well post about those another day. For my own narcissistic pleasure of course. I know I am the only one reading this.