i am no better than those people who judge the label on your purse, car or boarding pass. however, my area of speciality is serving as the st. peter of the paperback. these days, you can cross almost any domestic threshold to see a flat screen TV the surface area of a ping pong table attached to the wall-- and any visible "book" shelves are used to house dvd collections rivalling blockbuster.
i like to inspect other people's libraries (they are far more revealing than the medicine cabinet) and was recently sent an invitation to: http://www.goodreads.com/ allowing me to take my stalking, opinions, and judgements to a new, self-righteous nadir.
every.single.set.of.shelves.should.house.an.atlas.of.the.world. and the sentimental children's food stained picture atlas from your own formative years (next to an equally dog eared "little engine that could"), does not count. the hardback versus paperback elitism is redundant, as many of the leatherbound-never-been-cracked spines are for the pretentious who also own the complete works of dickens/austen/bronte, but couldn't spot miss havisham at 20 chapters. collections are acceptable only under certain circumstances; harry potter being the obvious exception. however, an entire alphabetized series of chicken soup for the soul, and i will be leaving you and the green bean casserole dinner you made for me. finally, if "someone", or "[your] mother" gave you dr. phil's latest missive, the official margaret thatcher autobiography, or the 'purpose driven anything', then you need to re-house it somewhere else-- like the gag gift white elephant exchange at work.
as with anything in life, balance is always the ideal, and it prevents your shelves from buckling. too many; "manage your stock portfolio for a brighter tomorrow" or "adult child of a parent who beat me/loved too much/was addicted to daytime soap opera" is tedious, and these individuals are to be avoided at the watercooler. additionally, the shelves that could have their own "airport departure lounge" section at borders (the da vinci code and it's ilk) is the only acceptable genre to pass on and never darken your treated ikea "pine", again. the science fiction "luvvies" are a breed unto themselves. i love you guys, but the spines of those robert heinlein books just don't have good "curb appeal".
while shel silverstein appears to be the pottery barn objet d'art for the bookcase, dave sedaris and augusten burroughs represent the standard "U2" for paper and print media. and those of you who own "spice girls; the album" should probably keep it hidden under the bed with "knitting for my cat" and "he's just not that into you".
my goal when people come and pry at the goodreads i harbour, is to induce bibliophilic lust. or at least be able to identify which continent tanzania is part of.