Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Three Good Books. Out of Three Hundred. No, Three Thousand. No...

Last year, when my husband helped me re-do my home office (after 23 years), we lined two-and-a-half walls with floor-to-ceiling, walk-to-wall, black wood bookshelves. I think they look great against the new red walls, and it's a huge change from my previous system for books, comprised of hand-me-down half-height bookcases, used beige office shelves, and repurposed odd pieces of furniture topped with baskets, milk crates, plastic stacking shelves, and clumsy piles (plus boxes stacked in a corner).

Would it surprise anyone to learn that it wasn't nearly enough room for my books, even after a careful reduction? That a second culling yielded four boxes of books, now in the garage awaiting pick-up by a terrific local service that matches no-longer-needed books with organizations that want and need them? That two more boxes are in the basement; I'm undecided about their fate. That at the end of every class I teach I haul a suitcase of books into the classroom -- duplicates of books I love, books left over from contests I've judged, books I didn't enjoy but are well written enough that others might -- and still, the shelves groan?

Honestly I don't expect the situation to get much better, and though I am slowly coming around to making use of my Nook, I don't mind a bit. When you are a writer, when you have a constant need to locate good material to teach from and learn from, when reading is like breathing, and when you work at home, being surrounded by shelves that spill over is a good problem. 

Which brings me to a month or so ago when Drew Myron, a lovely writer (who contributed a guest post here with tips on giving a reading), asked me to participate in the "3 Good Books" series at her website, Push Pull Books. She assigns each invited writer a specific topic based on what she knows about the writer's work. I was happy she asked me to talk about books that feature personal essays, and even more pleased that I could pick not-so-new books (the idea is to suggest what may be missing from other writers' shelves). I decided to narrow it a bit further to essay collections by women writers which have influenced me and my writing (I hope).

To do the "research" for this assignment, I didn't have far to go. I simply stood up from my seat at my still-new writing table (in the office re-do, I tossed the desk and the entire idea of a desk), and traveled a few feet to spend some quality time with my bookshelves. The section that houses essay collections is a single unit unto itself, about two feet wide and seven shelves high. It was a good trip.

My "3 Good Books" guest post is now up, and I hope you will jump over to Drew's blog to read it.  And I also hope you have shelves that spill their riches all over your home and/or office too!

1 comment:

fullsoulahead.com said...

I love thinking of you in your new office, with your shelves and shelves. It makes me happy.