October 20, 2022
Recently I read The Reading List by Sara Nisha Adams (2021). I am attracted to books about books, bookstores, booksellers, and libraries –both fiction and nonfiction–and this one is a delightful example of that genre. Another example is The Sentence by Louise Erdrich (2021), which is set in a bookstore and is one of my recent favorites. I also remember reading years ago a memoir by the mystery writer Susan Hill, Howard’s End is on the Landing (2009) about the year she read only books she already owned. I could do that, but then I better hurry up and buy the new Maggie O’Farrell and Barbara Kingsolver and…
Back to The Reading List. I loved each of the characters, especially the two main characters. Mukesh is an elderly man who is grieving the death of his wife and Aleisha is a young woman who has a complicated family. They meet at the library where Aleisha has a summer job. A list of books labeled “In case you need it:” appears to both Mukesh and Aleisha as well as other characters and thus begins a reading adventure, but more than that, support and even transformation.
And what a great list this is! I have read each of these books; some, more than once. I love how the lessons and the insights gleaned from these books are woven into the narrative–once again suggesting the power of books and reading.
Thinking about my own “In case you need it list,” I remember a charming illustrated book, My Ideal Bookshelf, Art by Jane Mount, Edited by Thessaly La Force. (2012). Over 100 cultural figures share the books that matter the most to them and why. Here, for example is librarian Nancy Pearl’s bookshelf as depicted by Jane Mount.
I am not familiar with most of Pearl’s choices, and that, of course, could lead to an even longer TBR list.
Here’s doctor and writer Atul Gawande’s shelf. I’ve read more of these books, but this isn’t a contest. Rather, an insight into a person’s life and development.
Naturally, this makes me think about what would be on my shelf. These are a few of the possibilities–novels I have read more than one time and that have impacted my life.
- Giants in the Earth by Ole Rolvaag
- All of Jane Austen’s books
- The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
- Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck
- The Color Purple by Alice Walker
- Bel Canto by Ann Patchett
- The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
- Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver
- Persuasion by A.S. Byatt
- A sampling of Nancy Drew books
- Crossing to Safety by Wallace Stegner
- Great Expectations by Charles Dickens
- Fresh Water for Flowers by Valerie Perrin
- A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith
- The Seed Keeper by Diane Wilson
- Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf
I need to stop or I will need a very long and sturdy book shelf.
What is on your “ideal bookshelf”? I would love to know.