Esther liked books out where everyone could see them, a sort of graphic index to the intricate labyrinth of her mind arranged to impress the most casual guest.
~ William Gaddis, The Recognitions
A psychology of bookshelves. But there might be other explanations beyond sheer vanity. First, it helps to draw a distinction between wanting one’s books in reach and wanting them in view. The former is for those of us who’ve given up hope of having many friends other than books; the latter suggests vanity but may also serve for those who still hope to attract human friends with like interests, without loving their books any less.