Jun 01, 2012

by English Muse

Hello Everyone! This post is inspired by my latest find: Unpacking My Library: Writers and Their Books, “a book about bookshelves” edited by Leah Price. It spotlights libraries of several writers, among them Junot Diaz, Edmund White, Gary Shteyngart, Philip Pullman, Jonathan Lethem, Claire Messud and John Wood. In the Introduction Price asserts “You are what you read–or, perhaps, what you own.” Books=identity? “To expose a bookshelf is to compose a self,” she writes and adds “A self without a shelf remains cryptic; a home without books naked.” How many of you look at other people’s bookshelves in order to form an opinion? I know I do. I want to know what you read if we are to be friends.

Price interviews the writers about their home libraries, reading habits, book buying routines etc. Beautiful and colorful photos of libraries and shelves accompany these interviews. In addition, each writer was asked to pick ten books which are important for them for some reason. I wanted to partake in that game and chose my own top ten:

1. The City of Dreaming Books by Walter Moers – the only book I read while walking, as I simply couldn’t part with it before I was done reading it.

2. The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao by Junot Diaz – went to a reading with Diaz and when it was my turn to have my book signed I asked him to dedicate it to my future children who will be reading this book at some point in the future. What he had written, made me cry so hard it felt very cleansing. I am very fond of my copy.

3. Dom dzienny, dom nocny (House of Day, House of Night) by Olga Tokarczuk – my favorite Polish author. She lives in my hometown and I have met her. Her writing sometimes reminds me of Louise Erdrich’s style.  During a lonely Christmas away from home while I was living in Minnesota, she sent me one of her books. It was the only gift I received from “home” and it made my day.

4. The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse by Louise Erdrich – I’ve read it so many times and still find it moving. I envy every single person who has not read the book and will read it for the first time.

5. The Color Purple by Alice Walker – wrote my MA thesis on it and used to know the book inside and out.

6. Shadowlands by Louise Gluck – intelligent and emotional poetry book. I asked Ms. Gluck to sign it for my ex, but the way she wrote his name, it uncannily looks like mine, so this particular coincidence always touches and perplexes me, particularly because I didn’t tell her what my name was.

7. The Lover by Marguerite Duras – love the book and love the movie. Duras’ short, crisp, and erotic writing is unmatched.

8. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius by Dave Eggers – I want to be Dave Eggers and to write like that! The honesty is indeed heartbreaking. I have read every book by Eggers and every single book was a treat.

9. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee – Scout and Atticus Finch, need I say more?

10. His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman – read the trilogy within less than a week. Sent to me by my dear friends, Betsy and Jeff.

My library consists of roughly 656 books placed on four white Billy bookcases. I have arranged my books according to categories: there is a Louise Erdrich shelf, a shelf with academic novels, books in German, in Polish, children’s books, dictionaries, TASCHEN books, textbooks and everything else is American literature.

You can view my books here.

Happy Friday!

Smiles, Marta

Photos: 1


This entry was posted on Friday, June 1st, 2012 at 8:05 am. It is filed under Books. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.

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8 Responses to “Unpack Your S(h)elf”

  1. Tina says:

    Hi Marta! I love all your yellow tabs in “The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse.” You’ve inspired me to read it! xo

  2. Wendy says:

    I adored His Dark Materials, and thought it was so original! I don’t usually read books more than once, but this trilogy I could! My top ten also includes The Liveship Traders and Assassins Apprentice trilogies by Robin Hobb (my first fantasy reads as an adult), the Narnian Chronicles, by C.S. Lewis (my first fantasy reads as a child) Tomorrow When the War Began series by John Marsden (the world stopped when I read these), The Time Travellers Wife ( so frightening, and romantic), Jane Eyre ( I love books about orphans who make their way in the world), the Harry Potter series (also the orphan thing, but love all the magical ideas) Jessica, by Bryce Courtenay (great Australian battler, with a shocking mother) Dirt Music by Tim Winton (brilliant depiction of the landscape of Western Australia), Tears of the Moon by Di Morrissey (desperate love story set in Broome in Western Australia).
    I will try to find your list of books on ibooks and have a read of them. Thanks for the recommendations! xx

  3. Marta says:

    Enjoy 🙂

  4. Marta says:

    thanks so much for taking the time to share your favorites! i think you will enjoy my list of books — happy reading! smiles, marta 🙂

  5. Katie says:

    I’ve only read a few of the books on your top ten, but I loved them. At least a few of the others are making their way onto my monstrous to-read list now, though! I love your comments about each–it’s wonderful how meaningful a book can be, both in its content and in its place in our lives, no?

  6. Marta says:

    YES! have a wonderful sunday! smiles, marta 🙂

  7. Melissa says:

    I wonderful list and a great idea. I loved Heartbreaking Work and Mockingbird. I wasn’t blown away by Plague of Doves, so I think I might need to try The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse to give the author another try.

  8. Marta says:

    by all means give it a try! smiles, marta 🙂

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