Michael Bond’s Fans is a fascinating exploration of what it is to be a fan, be it of a pop group, a celebrity or a football team. In each chapter the author delves into the psychological mindset of fandom to examine intrinsic truths about being human. Most of us have been a fan of something, especially in our teenage years, and it’s a great feeling to be part of a community of like-minded people. This is the positive side, but Bond also explores the flipside of fandom. When does it go from being passionate to becoming an obsession? This book is about how we all want to connect and feel a sense of belonging by sharing our passions, and how we behave in groups for better and for worse.

Tell us about the bookshelves in your home.

I’m ashamed to say the books are rather scattered about the house, though I keep all my favourites in one special bookshelf. It hangs at the end of the living room like a piece of art. The books that live there have to be tolerant of their neighbours from other genres. It turns out American fiction gets along just fine next to travel and English poetry and natural history. I have a lot of books on psychology, but they live separately as they’re not pretty to look at.

Which books are your most recent bookshelf additions?

Some books I was given for Christmas – they haven’t made it to the favourites shelf. Also The Lost Country, the last novel by William Gay; Sally Rooney’s Beautiful World, Where Are You; and The Long View by Richard Fisher, on how we look at time. I need to make space for these three.

Do you judge people by their bookshelves?

Usually not, though I have a good friend who arranges his books by the colour of their spines, and it’s hard not to judge him for that.

Which is your most treasured book?

All The Pretty Horses by Cormac McCarthy. It’s a scruffy paperback which I’ve read perhaps a dozen times.

What do your bookshelves say about you?

That I like to organise things.

What’s the oldest book on your shelf?

In the literal sense, a book by my great-great grandfather William Milton and Walter Cheadle called The North-West Passage by Land, which describes a journey they made by horseback across Canada in the 1860s. It was published in 1865.

Do you rearrange your bookshelves often – and where do your replaced books go?

I don’t rearrange them much but I spend a lot of time just staring at my favourite books. Retired books go to a second-hand bookshop next to Winchester Cathedral – which I often visit to try to retrieve the books I regret letting go!

Do you have any books from your childhood on your shelf?

Oh plenty. Including my childhood favourite, B.B.’s Brendon Chase, about three brothers living as outlaws in a forest.

Book lender, book giver or book borrower?

All three!

Whose bookshelves are you most curious about?

The writer John McPhee, because he has such a vast range of interests. And Robert Macfarlane, whose books always reference so many interesting sources.

Introduced and compiled by Sonia Weir
Bookshelf by Michael Bond

Michael Bond is a writer specialising in human behaviour and a former editor and reporter at New Scientist. He currently teaches writing as a Royal Literary Fund fellow at Oxford Brookes University. His book The Power of Others (Oneworld, 2014) won the 2015 British Psychological Society prize. He is also the author of Way Out West (McClelland & Stewart, 2001), about his ancestor William Milton, and Wayfinding: The Art and Science of How We Find and Lose Our Way (Picador, 2020). Fans is published by Picador in hardback, eBook and audio download.
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Sonia Weir is a contributing editor to Bookanista. She started the Ultimate Reads and Recommendations Facebook group in December 2018, which now has over 700 members from all over the world. The group is inclusive and aimed at every reader, no matter the books, authors or genre.
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