In this morning’s edition of the Shelf-Awareness newsletter there was a review of the new book, My Ideal Bookshelf by Thessaly La Force, editor, illus. by Jane Mount (Little, Brown, $24.99 hardcover, 9780316200905, November 13, 2012).
I thought it was a unique concept. The review, in part, stated, “Every reader will, at some point, face the dreaded question: “What’s your favorite book?” For the serious reader, the answer is often not nearly as simple or singular as the question. We love many titles equally, though for different reasons. Books educate, entertain and move us. Reading helps us to learn who we are as individuals and as a species.
In My Ideal Bookshelf, Thessaly La Force asks a variety of authors and other celebrities a somewhat less restrictive question: If you had to fill a small shelf with the books that represent you, which titles would you choose? Accompanied by Jane Mount’s charmingly colorful drawings of each participant’s shelf, the essays are alphabetized by each participant’s last name–in true librarian- or bookseller-approved fashion.
La Force selected a diverse group of participants. In addition to popular authors such as Stephanie Meyer, Malcolm Gladwell and James Patterson, she solicited responses from skateboarder Tony Hawk, French Laundry chef Thomas Keller and New Yorker music critic Sasha Frere-Jones.” …
I started wondering, “What books would be on MY ideal bookshelf?”
I would have to include a few of the epics that I loved as a teenager and that really provoked my interest in ancient history so there is no doubt that The Iliad, The Odyssey, The Aenied, Beowulf and The Epic of Gilgamesh would make my shelf.
I also love fables and fairy tales so The Canterbury Tales and The Brother’s Grimm Fairy Tales would be on the list. I once owned a dark blue leather bound version of The Brother’s Grimm Fairy Tales. It was complete with gilded edges. I wore it out reading it so much.
A few sports books have to make the shelf too. I would probably include the autobiographical Pete Rose: My Story and Throwing Heat: Nolan Ryan. They are two of my favorite all-time baseball players.
Naturally, my Bible goes on the shelf. It’s not just a book, it’s the book. You only have to watch that movie, The Book of Eli, to see how critical that book is above all others.
Then, just for good measure and because everyone needs a few laughs, I’d add some Lewis Grizzard. I don’t know which one but I’d probably settle on “Shoot Low Boys, They’re Riding Shetland Ponies” because it’s hilarious and makes me think of my Dad.
That’s 12 books. Is that a “small” bookshelf? It is by my standards.
What books would you put on your “small” bookshelf of ideal books?