BOOKCASE SHOWCASE - Susie Day
I don’t own a photo album, or keep a proper diary, but my bookshelves do a pretty good job of keeping track of my memories.
The tattered copy of Cormac McCarthy’s Border Trilogy top left, perched atop the reference books, is the one and only book I’ve ever destroyed. I was partway through reading All The Pretty Horses on a trip to Arizona, and was about to spend 3 days hiking down into - and back out of - the Grand Canyon. When you have to carry every last item on your back into a desert canyon in August, you take sunscreen and food and as much water as you can bear. You don’t take books. But I needed something to read down there; I just didn’t need to carry the other two books that happened to be attached to the back of the one I was halfway through.
So - yes, I know, it’s awful - I I ripped through the spine, and wrapped the chapters I needed in a plastic bag. It’s still cloudy with canyon dust, that bag. But I’ll never forget reading those flyaway pages, my feet in the creek, fighting off sunstroke with the canyon height and heat looming all around.
I spent a scarily long time at university, writing a thesis on biographies of Virginia Woolf - before realising that instead of writing about other people’s I could make up my own stories.
I used to divide my bookshelves up, trying to keep things neat and tidy - the books on the left and right date from my student days - but I’ve realised that the associations the books have for me personally are more important than genre. Kidlit, YA, detective fiction, chicklit, modern fiction, classics... or ‘what I read lately’. As a filing system it might not make sense to anyone else, but it works for me.