Hey, Objectivists, see what I did there?

I’ve been seeing so-called “shelfies” all over social media for a while now, and have even shared a few glimpses of my own shelves from time to time, but this week, I want to go full shelfie and reveal my personal library/no kill book shelter in all its glory—and to me, it is glorious! Let’s start upstairs, and the four bookcases that line a wall of my office loft, going left to right…


The top shelf stores a bunch of notebooks and a supply of author copies of some of my published work. The rest of this (with a few exceptions on the right side of the second shelf down and the bottom shelf) houses what I’ve kept of forty-two years of playing, collecting, and otherwise being a part of the hobby, lifestyle, and business of role-playing games. Yes, that is the original Traveller box set. Yes, that is my copy of the first printing of Deities & Demigods, with the Cthulhu and Melnibonéan Mythos intact. Yes, there’s Judges Guild aplenty.

The top shelf and the third shelf down contain more of the books I’ve written or anthologies that include a story by me—also a small supply of puppy training pads, but that’s a post for another day. Dig my globes of Mars and the Moon. The second shelf down sports the complete Berserker series by Fred Saberhagen—I plan to work my way through that… eventually. The bottom two shelves contain books on writing and various reference books.

Next up is my Star Trek shrine. Just… don’t even.

And finally my prized collection of Ace science fiction Doubles, carefully shelved in chronological order, in protective plastic bags. The middle shelf is another series “to read” collection: the rest of the expanded Dune series, and a few others, including a partial collection of Iain Banks’s Culture series. I’ll get to it!

Moving downstairs, we have one whole wall covered in track shelves. Again, working left to right…

This is my science fiction, fantasy, and horror section. Of course they’re alphabetized by author—what do you take me for, some kind of savage? In the middle is a shelf that includes a couple of series I’m still working to collect all of, including the classic Tom Swift, Jr. and original Tom Swift books, and Perry Rhodan. If you have to ask, you’ll never get it. And sitting on their sides, a few books I’ve acquired recently and haven’t shelved yet. Below that, comics and graphic novels. And yes, those are the original Encyclopedia of Comic Book Heroes books, and Son of Origins of Marvel Comics, which have been with me for decades. Do not even try to step to my nerd cred, bitches.

Above the TV, from top to bottom: books about movies and television, and plays. Then poetry, literary magazines, a couple of art books, and full-on miscellaneous. On the bottom: religion, philosophy, and mythology.

And then the rest of the wall. I know… yes, that is an autographed photo of Majel (Nurse Chapel) Barrett. Still not getting the whole Star Trek thing? The top four rows are all fiction of various genres except science fiction, fantasy, and horror (mostly). Below the Clockwork Angels clock I designed for Brilliance Audio is history. Then below that, biographies, general non-fiction, space, science, animals, and a stack of pulp era fantasy and SF paperbacks that need to find a more permanent home. Finally, on the bottom, all things pulp fiction, including a large portion of the Bantam Doc Savage books, and a section of author biographies and autobiographies.

In the bottom left corner of this last photo you can see some larger format books stacked under the cable box. There are two more shelves below that (not pictured) of the same. Another little shelf unit holds some books my wife’s been meaning to read, and a collection of books by Edgar Rice Burroughs, a few in editions now more than a hundred years old. And then there’s the SF paperback grab bag box next to my desk upstairs, and another box full of SF, fantasy, and horror paperbacks marked OVERFLOW BOOKS in my closet.

Okay, so maybe you don’t have this many books at home. You may not have gone to Book Expo America for a few years and sent back three or four boxes of free books for yourself every year. You might not have spent a good portion of your share of stock option payouts from a corporate merger on a three-year book buying spree. I get it. Hell, maybe you have more books than me—it’s not a race!

I love books, man. I just really, actually do.

I literally surround myself with them, live inside of them.

Okay, then: shelfies shared.


—Philip Athans

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About Philip Athans

Philip Athans is the New York Times best-selling author of Annihilation and a dozen other books including The Guide to Writing Fantasy and Science Fiction, and Writing Monsters. His blog, Fantasy Author’s Handbook, ( is updated every Tuesday, and you can follow him on Twitter @PhilAthans.
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  1. Dawn Ross says:

    Nice! I am especially envious of the Star Trek shrine. I used to have just as many books, but after moving three times in the past five years, I’ve really had to cut down. If I did a shelfie, it would be pathetic compared to yours.

  2. Pingback: I COLLECT BOOKS, DAMN IT | Fantasy Author's Handbook

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