My Ideal Bookshelf

From Goodreads: The books that we choose to keep –let alone read– can say a lot about who we are and how we see ourselves. In MY IDEAL BOOKSHELF, dozens of leading cultural figures share the books that matter to them most; books that define their dreams and ambitions and in many cases helped them find their way in the world. Contributors include Malcolm Gladwell, Thomas Keller, Michael Chabon, Alice Waters, James Patterson, Maira Kalman, Judd Apatow, Chuck Klosterman, Miranda July, Alex Ross, Nancy Pearl, David Chang, Patti Smith, Jennifer Egan, and Dave Eggers, among many others. With colorful and endearingly hand-rendered images of book spines by Jane Mount, and first-person commentary from all the contributors, this is a perfect gift for avid readers, writers, and all who have known the influence of a great book.

Since hearing about this project (it’s everywhere now, but I first heard about it from Kate and Cathy– so thanks!), I have been thinking long and hard about what books I would include on my ideal bookshelf.

1. Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte (1847)
2. What We Talk About When We Talk About Love by Raymond Carver (1981)
3. A Room with a View by E. M. Forster (1908)
4. Bag of Bones by Stephen King (1998)
5. 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff (1970)
6. The Devil All the Time by Donald Ray Pollock (2011)
7. White Oleander by Janet Fitch (1999)
8. The Painted Veil by W. Somerset Maugham (1925)
9. Empire Falls by Richard Russo (2001)
10. A Prayer for Owen Meany by John Irving (1989)
11.  The Book of Ebenezer Le Page by G. B. Edwards (1981)
12. The Cowboy and the Cossack by Clair Huffaker (1973)
13. Blithe Spirit/Private Lives/Hay Fever by Noel Coward (1965)
14. The Sisters Brothers by Patrick deWitt (2011)
15. Blood Meridian by Cormac McCarthy (1985)

In the words of the always appropriate, always eloquent John Waters “If you go home with somebody, and they don’t have books, don’t f*ck ’em!”. In all seriousness, there is something lovely about falling in love with somebody’s bookcase, it’s like falling in love with their mind (which is as it should be in any lasting relationship). I can honestly say that no one I’ve ever known has said “thank you for reading so much” and that is a tragedy. I don’t know what my bookshelf would reveal about me, perhaps I should rethink my claim of not liking westerns…


Some notable overlooked favorites: Persuasion, A Confederacy of Dunces, The Hotel New Hampshire, Washington Square, Lonesome Dove, Deliverance.


Having made my ideal bookshelf (with much thought and deliberation), I can assure you it is a daunting task. In reward for such hard work, I think a cupcake is in order. One of my favorites: Red Velvet Cupcake with Cream Cheese Frosting.

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