Today guest posting on Bookcase Showcase is Amy Kathleen Ryan who is the author of Glow as part of her blog tour.
I always say I’m going to organise my bookcases and I never do. This is the bookcase in my office, and it is stuffed mostly with young adult and middle grade titles. I like having them near me when I work. I find their presence very inspiring.
You can see the spines of some of my favourite books. I love The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall, How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff, The Amber Spyglass by Philip Pullman, On Writing by Stephen King, The Traiter King by Todd Mitchell, Godless by Pete Hautman, Stealing Henry by Carolyn MacCullough, and Refugees by Catherine Stine. They’re all jumbled together, sending out good writing vibes, watching over my shoulder as I tap away at my keyboard.
Upstairs in my living room I have two lovely cherry wood bookcases on either side of our picture window. The left side bookcase has all our non-fiction titles, including dictionaries and desk references, now obsolete given the ease of finding anything you want on the internet. I keep them, though, because I find these books interesting and occasionally useful. There are also tomes written by the likes of Jacques Derrida, Michel Foucault, Noam Chomsky, Sigmund Freud, Plato, Shere Hite, and Susan Faludi - leftovers from my days as a poverty stricken graduate student with eye strain. I think I hold onto these out of nostalgia for those days of reading too much and trying to keep up with conversations that were slightly over my head. I am living proof that graduate school makes you smarter.
The right hand bookcase contains all my adult fiction and literary non-fiction books. They include Stephen King’s The Stand, Joan Didion’s The Year of Magical Thinking, and Joyce Carol Oates’ We Were the Mulvaneys, and each book has a memory associated with it. I read The Stand while lying on the spectacularly uncomfortable futon I had when I lived in a haunted farmhouse in Burlington, Vermont. I read The Year of Magical Thinking on my crappy used couch in the first apartment my husband and I shared together. I cried all through that book, so sad for Joan Didion’s losing her beloved husband when I had just found mine. We Were the Mulvaneys was one of the first books I read in the house we’re living in now, where we’ve started our family.
Doing this exercise has me a little bit sad, for I’m told that the tome as we know it is going the way of the dodo. Carrying around your entire library in a single electronic device definitely has its advantages, but it will be a sad day when people go over to a friend’s house for the first time and there is no bookshelf to look at and talk about. I’m realising as I write this that a collection of books is biographical. Pull a novel off someone’s shelf, and it calls up another era in his life - where he bought the book, where he lived when he read it, who he talked about it with. I never feel I’ve gotten to know someone until I’ve seen his books. Without that physical reminder, will books mean the same to us? They’re not just something to read, after all. They are souvenirs from our past lives. I love my kindle, but I don’t think I’ll feel the same way about the books I read on it.
In fact, I think I’ll be making a trip to my favourite bookstore very soon.