Monday, November 5, 2012

My Ideal Bookshelf

There is a book coming out on November 13th that I'm going to check out, but it isn't a crime novel. It's called My Ideal Bookshelf. I read this Wall Street Journal article about the book and it got me thinking about what MY ideal bookshelf would be. The idea is to have a small selection of books that represent you. This is what my "ideal bookshelf" would be at this point in my life:

The Mouse and the Motorcycle - I loved Beverly Cleary's books when I was growing up. I love to share them with my niece and nephew now. I learned how enjoyable the act of reading could be in the pages of her books and Ralph S. Mouse was wonderful!

Dante's Inferno - I know, this one probably seems odd, but in college my English class had to read The Divine Comedy and I was at a point in life where I was really wrestling with a conflict between organized religion and my faith. Somehow, in Dante's tale, I found peace with my beliefs and myself.

To Kill a Mockingbird - Still my favorite book ever and probably the book I've re-read the most. I always seem to discover something new each time I read it and I try to remind myself to be more like the innocent children than the tainted adults. I will always aspire to be as great as Atticus. I'll not likely ever reach it, but I try to make sure my actions and words work toward fairness for everyone - especially the underdog.

L.A. Requiem - The book that sealed my love for crime fiction. It defies all the genre stereotypes and epitomizes all the potential of a great story told by a great storyteller.

The Audacity of Hope - I never felt as passionate reading a non-fiction book as I did this one. I read it not long after leaving teaching and in the pages I heard so many of my own words echoed, especially about the state of education in our country.

The Lords of Discipline - Pat Conroy is incredibly talented and I've found myself lost in all of his books that I've read, but this one above all others...with The Great Santini coming in a close second. His themes play a big role in the reason I love his work; his writing is stunning. But he also expresses a love of the South despite its flaws. I've lived in the North all my life, but come from a family deeply rooted in the South, so I think I feel a connection to his books because of that.

A Prayer for Owen Meany - This is kind of an oddball for me. For the most part I'm not a big fan of John Irving, but A Prayer for Owen Meany affected me differently, likely due to it's themes of faith and social justice. It still baffles me that the same man who wrote this book wrote The Water Method Man.

One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest - Not only did this book serve as the deciding factor in my choice to study English in college, it was my favorite book to teach when I taught high school. In many ways it also reflects my teaching experience!

and my last choice for my ideal bookshelf is

The Ridge - This book represents a lot to me. First I think I connected so much with it because of my love of animals and their spirits, which I think Michael Koryta brought out beautifully. But I also look at this book as my faith for the future. When we lose great authors everyone is devastated and talking about how they can never be replaced. While I'm sad that we've lost a human life -- and it's true, their unique traits can't be replaced -- I look at young writers like Michael and realize that it's very much the circle of life. Our tap is not going to run dry and it's time for the new crop to have their day. There will be classics written in my lifetime, and I'll likely not ever know it. What I will do is enjoy to the fullest and share with others the books I read. This is one of those books!

This list looks similar to my staircase list, but it does differ slightly.

One of the unique elements of My Ideal Bookshelf the book is the artwork. Jane Mount did the art for the people's shelves who contributed--actually, I think it was her art that sparked the idea for the book. As a promotion for the book, Little, Brown is running a contest for someone to win an "ideal bookshelf" painting from her. I posted this link on the Facebook page, but if you didn't see it, you may want to check it out.

Just as a sidenote on the Wall Street Journal piece, James Patterson's comments about why he chose to write thrillers are so offensive. I respect him for a lot of things he's done in the writing community, but I really think what he said was in poor taste. Sorry, just had to throw that comment in there.

O.k., your turn. What would you want on your Ideal Bookshelf? What would represent you?


Naomi Johnson November 5, 2012 at 10:25 AM  

This would take some thought. From my childhood, definitely Cinnabar, the One O'Clock Fox. It's the only childhood book I still have, and I can't wait until my great-nieces are just a little older so I can read it to them. It's a third-grade level read. And probably Richard Bach's Illusions: The Adventures of a Reluctant Messiah. More than that, I have to give greater consideration before deciding. Love your list though. I wasn't surprised to see Koryta on the list, but was surprised by which of his books you chose, even though I know you love animals.

Shelleyrae November 5, 2012 at 6:11 PM  

Sounds like this would be really interesting. I have no idea what books I would choose to define me, I'll have to think about it!

Shelleyrae @ Book'd Out

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Karen November 10, 2012 at 8:30 PM  

A Prayer for Owen Meany - my favourite non-mystery book!

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