Jo Steffens shares some “Shelfies”


Shelfie – from Jo Steffens’ bookshelf. Click to enlarge.

The Oxford English Dictionary named the “Selfie” the word of the year for 2013 — a bit of news some readers may have missed while browsing their bookshelves full of old favourites and new discoveries over the Holidays.

Anyone familiar with social media is bound to have stumbled across the “Selfie” on platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. These self-portraits are often taken in front of a bathroom mirror or with arms outstretched to fill the tiny frame of a smartphone’s front-facing camera.

Since the “selfie” was reportedly first coined in 2002 by an inebriated Australian documenting injuries to his face, these minor indulgences in a bit of vanity seem to be everywhere, and everyone appears to be doing it.

But staff at Wordfest are much more excited about the “Selfie’s” bookish cousin — the emerging trend of the “Shelfie,” which didn’t quite make the top of the Oxford Dictionary’s list, but deserves special mention nonetheless.

#Shelfie — the self-portrait’s bookish cousin


Shelfie – from Jo Steffens’ bookshelf. Click to enlarge.

Yes, we’re talking about the practice of flaunting snapshots of one’s home library and book collections for the envy of millions of literary voyeurs. Search for the #shelfie hashtag on Twitter or your favourite social media site, and witness the full breadth of this curious trend. Or read more about it in this article in The Guardian.

Bookshelves displayed online are not just the new eye candy for a subculture of admirers. They are another way of sharing and performing a public identity — another way to “prepare a face to meet the faces that you meet,” as T.S. Eliot wrote almost a century ago. Only this time the bookshelf — the “shelfie” — stands in as the new avatar, giving viewers perhaps a much deeper glimpse into the personal interests of web denizens than is possible with a simple self-portrait.

Wordfest Executive Director Jo Steffens captured some #shelfies over the winter break. As editor of Unpacking My Library, she found this online phenomenon especially fascinating for what it reveals about the lives of book lovers and their books.

Since moving to Calgary my library shelves are still out of order I’m embarrassed to admit. That’s why you see titles on book making next to the Femmes Fatales series from The Feminist Press at Cuny or Climate Refugees on a shelf with Paul K. Miller’s (aka D.J. Spooky) Sound Unbound. This disorder throws into relief my wide-ranging taste in reading — but my interest in graphic novels really stands out. I’ve been collecting various authors work for 25 years; when they were first publishing single comics!

Join in the fun! Post pictures of your bookshelves to the #shelfie hastag on Twitter, and don’t forget to mention @WordfestTweets so we can find your Tweets and Retweet them to our audience.


Shelfie – from Jo Steffens’ bookshelf. Click to enlarge.


Shelfie – from Jo Steffens’ bookshelf. Click to enlarge.


Shelfie – from Jo Steffens’ bookshelf. Click to enlarge.


Leave a comment

Filed under Behind the Scenes

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s