As a child, you don’t decide where you go–you just find yourself places. As a bookworm, I spent hours in front of the bookshelves of my friends and neighbors. Bookshelves are so personal and the books I reread were like friends to me. My grandmother’s shelf had book of the month club best sellers, Ernie Pyle, Reader’s Digest condensed books, and old popular humor like Art Linkletter and Erma Bombeck. My dad had his Ian Fleming, the musically named John LeCarre, Alistair Maclean, Time Life World War II Series and giant coffee table books about “The Very Rich” where I learned about Hetty Green “The Witch of Wall Street”. My next door neighbor had Wodehouse, W.P. Kinsella, John Mortimer. When I think of the people I loved as a child, I think of their bookshelves.
Bookshelves are going away. They are a luxury, not a necessity. I won’t bemoan this. Bemoaning does not serve. I like e-readers. One of the great things about e-readers is more books with you all the time–I mean, all of Dickens for $1.99?
E-readers are a font of old books for a bookworm like myself. I had this weird impulse to find a lost book that Churchill read, in a few minutes I had a .99 copy of Lytton Strachey’s Queen Victoria. I love how an e-reader will connect me to a lost popular culture book like Camping and Woodcraft by the naturalist, Horace Kephart. What a slice of life that book is.
The downside of e-books is the end of the bookshelf. That spot in the home where a little bookworm can sit and read book titles. We should keep a curated selection of books we love in our homes–like a badge. This is what made me. Because books make the home. At least for me they do, I can’t feel at home in a new house until my bookshelves are up. Jane Mount has a solution. Her custom art, the “Ideal Bookshelf” speaks to that private bookshelf so many bookworms carry in their hearts. When I finally settle on my own ideal bookshelf, I’ll have one made.
What books helped you fall in love with reading? What would you put on your ideal bookshelf?