Culture House Daily

The shelfie: the ultimate antidote to the selfie

22 February 2014

Shelfie [n.]: a bookshelf selfie

Has the shelfie replaced the selfie as the most fashionable use of a camera phone? I’ll admit it; I’m a fan of the odd selfie. What better way to record a social occasion — so everyone knows you were there — than to take a squashed photograph at arms length with your nearest and dearest? It’s become so popular even our politicians are partaking in a cheeky selfie. The Prime Minister is known to have taken at least three selfies, including a disastrous one at Nelson Mandela’s funeral, while Ed Miliband has been seen huddling beside Joey Essex.

But the new trend of the shelfie is the perfect antidote for the chattering classes who find a selfie simply too gauche. Anyone can get involved: take a picture of your favourite bookshelf and post it on Twitter with #shelfie. Sounds pretentious? Maybe but browsing them on Twitter provides a fascinating insight into people’s lives. Some of them are works of art while others are a great CV. How well read the photographer is for a start; whether the shelfie-er is a hoarder or tidiness maniac, a fiction freak or a biography buff as well as their political persuasions.

The shelfie was first seen at the end of last year but is currently experiencing a second wave. Ashamedly I’ve done a shelfie – showing off half of a bookcase at home. After extensively browsing existing ones from my friends, I duly prepared my shelves– hiding the books I didn’t want anyone to see, tidying up the area and getting just the right angle with my iPhone. From that single shot, you can find out a lot about what my interests are and what I do for a living.

That’s the beauty of the shelfie, and why it’s a significant advancement over the selfie. It almost has a purpose. It’s the ideal riposte for the wannabe intellectual who doesn’t like self-portraits. Go on, try it out yourself! You won’t regret it.

Or, if you still can’t be persuaded, here’s the top ten shelfies:

1. British Library – Hard to compete with the big guns, look at those beautifully bound, matching books.