Each year we exchange names for Christmas on Tom’s side of the family and send our Christmas lists to Santa (some people call Santa “Mom”) to distribute the right lists to the right people, since only she knows who has whose name until gifts are exchanged. This past holiday season I emailed her my list, and directly afterward, my friend Johnnie tweeted a picture of a group of books he called “my ideal bookshelf.” Further information from him indicated there was a book by this name. I looked it up and saw that more than a hundred “leading cultural figures” submitted a list of books they had to have on their shelves, and these lists were turned into illustrations for My Ideal Bookshelf.
“Dammit,” I muttered. “I already sent off my Christmas list.”
I began to write random titles of books that would be on my own ideal bookshelf, but the list grew insanely long. That’s probably why I have so many bookcases. I don’t have any memory of mentioning the book to anyone else; I made a mental note to look for it the next time I was in a bookstore.
Then we received a box of Christmas goodies in the mail that included a beautifully wrapped package for me. When I ripped off the paper, I found:
Santa is not always called “Mom.” Sometimes Santa is called “David and Geri,” and I LOVE THIS BOOK. My 2013 masthead is a photo of my ideal bookshelf (a larger version of the photo is here if you can’t read all the titles). It tormented me to condense my list, leaving off some of the books that I did: Andrew Holleran’s Dancer From The Dance, Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice, Louisa May Alcott’s Little Women, and specific poets come to mind immediately. I tried to include books that changed something in me: the way I see the world, the way I see myself, the way I read and write fiction. Even though I’m one edition behind on my dictionary and two editions behind on my style manual, if I were lost on an island in the middle of the sea, those two books could keep me endlessly preoccupied.
Thank you, Geri and David, and indirectly, Johnnie, for My Ideal Bookshelf.
Feel free to add your favorites in comments, or if you put them online somewhere, give me a link. Book love is great love–and reading is hot!