One of the things I like to do when I visit someone’s house is browse their bookshelves. It is always interesting to discover what interests them, and to see where their reading has intersected with my own. Often they will have read some books that I plan to read, and I can ask for their opinion. It is also true that one can learn a fair bit about a person from the books they read – enough, in fact, that I sometimes feel that such browsing might be a mild invasion of privacy. I try to take a genuine, and not merely prying, interest.
Along the same lines, I have often thought it would be interesting to browse the shelves of a favourite author’s personal library. It may be easier to do than you would think: A group at LibraryThing has recently finished cataloguing the library of C.S. Lewis, and it can be browsed online. (I am a member of LibraryThing, and I made a modest contribution to the cataloguing effort.) There are about 2000 volumes, and its contents might surprise you. I expected to see Chesterton and George MacDonald, but I was not expecting to find that he collected Anthony Trollope, H. Rider Haggard, and F. Marion Crawford in abundance.