More often than not, a shelf of books is a statement about the person we wish to be. We carefully arrange the titles so our friends will gain a favourable impression of us, thinking that we are cultured, sensitive, politically aware or part of the rebellious avant-garde. Meanwhile, the books we really enjoy, our guilty pleasures, are hidden from sight. It’s nice to know that not much has changed in 500 years. Apparently, scholars in Ming-dynasty China did much the same. The books on display in their studies were the Confucian classics they had been forced to read to gain high positions in the civil service, while the books they really enjoyed were hidden under their mattresses. And these, quite often, were pulp detective novels.