Building an Ideal Bookshelf

Ideal Bookshelf Art by Jane Mount Edited by Thessaly La Force

December 6, 2015
Susan Grossman, Development Officer

And always there was the magic of learning things.A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, Betty Smith
As I was wandering through a local antique – OK, probably more like junky stuff – shop around Thanksgiving, I spotted an appealing book cover with the title, “My Ideal Bookshelf.” The colorful and happy design caught my eye, so I picked it up and cracked it open. On the smooth, unmarked pages were more great colorful graphics of books situated on an author’s ideal bookshelf. This particular spread featured a familiar name. Centered on the opposite page in large bold type is Michael Chabon with the word writer below.

I could not believe my eyes. Chabon was our Big Read featured author this past year and here he was describing what would be on his ideal bookshelf! Borges, Barthelme and Proust are among them. Those masters taught this Pulitzer-Prize winner how to write. Amazing.

Naturally, I had to buy this book and add it to my own bookshelf. It sits on my desk for a little extra inspiration on those days when the words do not flow so easily. My ideal bookshelf is an inspirational well of writing knowledge. The novels are beautifully written, a perfection of language and storytelling. I read each one slowly, enjoying them as long as possible. I go back from time-to-time, re-reading portions of each. The writing books help perfect my craft of  writing personal essays. It is a life-long learning process which I continually practice. These books are essential to any essayist’s collection, in mA Tree Grows In Brooklyn by Betty Smithy opinion, and I often turn to them for inspiration and guidance.

  1. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn, by Betty Smith
  2. Bird By Bird, by Anne Lamott
  3. The Art of the Personal Essay, by Phillip Lopate
  4. Confessions of St. Augustine, by Saint Augustine – the first true personal essay
  5. Eats, Shoots and Leaves, by Lynne Truss
  6. The Old Man and the Sea, by Ernest Hemingway
  7. Stones from the River, by Ursula Hegi
  8. Cold Mountain, by Charles Frazier
  9. The Things They Carried, by Tim O-Brien
  10. The Night in Question: Stories, by Tobias Wolff

Having the ability to read and write is something we so often take for granted. It is a joy to read beautiful, expressive prose. But many people, adults and children alike, cannot read.  As we wind down 2015 and ramp up for 2016, literacy will become a central focus of the Pioneer Library System Foundation and its fundraising efforts.

Personally, I can’t wait to get started.

Building an Ideal Bookshelf