Back Shelf awareness: Unscientific sample proves LOA volumes lend instant “bookcase credibility”

The books a person keeps on the bookshelf can tell you a lot about that person, right? Well, over the past two months, as cable news channels and social media feeds have filled with images of politicians, celebrities, and all types of commentators broadcasting from home, there’s been more attention than ever on the bookshelves in the background.

This month Amanda Hess of the New York Times has reported more than once on “bookcase credibility,” or the sense of authority and distinction that people try to project by strategically featuring certain volumes (along with the occasional knickknack) on the bookshelves behind them. Instagram now has over two million #shelfie posts. A Twitter account called Lockdown Book Detective is on a mission to identify seemingly every book in each celebrity background. And another Twitter account, Bookcase Credibility, currently boasts over 75,000 followers.

From Joe Biden to Tina Fey, Anna Wintour to Elmo, cultural icons of every sort are becoming curators of their own shelfies, and we would be remiss if we didn’t showcase some of our own contributions to this riveting new genre. Can you spot the LOA title(s) in each of the following tweets? (Hint: Our distinctive and undeniably stylish black dust jackets are the common denominator, except for the last two images, which give our slipcased editions equal time.) Click on any of the individual tweets to explore further—and don’t hesitate to acquire more LOA volumes if you start to feel your own “bookcase credibility” starting to suffer by comparison.

Library of America
Curator

A champion of America’s great writers and timeless works, Library of America guides readers in finding and exploring the exceptional writing that reflects the nation’s history and culture.

Learn More
Publisher

From poetry, novels, and memoirs to journalism, crime writing, and science fiction, the more than 300 volumes published by Library of America are widely recognized as America’s literary canon.

Browse our books Subscribe
Non-Profit

With contributions from donors, Library of America preserves and celebrates a vital part of our cultural heritage for generations to come.

Support our mission