I read many of the books recommended to me by friends and always have one or two titles to share in return. I’ve collected “best of” lists from writer’s workshops, publishers, periodicals, and arts councils and turn to them often for choices deemed “must reads” by one literary authority or another.
I usually like the recommended book and can understand why it resonated with a friend or was named to a specific list, but few of these selections make it to my list of five-star reads. Fewer still are ones I’d consider reading a second or third time, and I can think of only one title I’d classify as a book that changed my life.
But that’s the idea behind a coffee table book that caught my eye while I was book browsing last weekend. From the introduction:
The books that we choose to keep and display—let alone read—can say a lot about who we are and how we see ourselves. In My Ideal Bookshelf, one hundred leading cultural figures, including writers Chuck Klosterman, Jennifer Egan, and Michael Chabon, musicians Patti Smith and Thurston Moore, chefs and food writers Alice Waters and Mark Bittman, and fashion designers Kate and Laura Mulleavy of Rodarte, reveal the books that matter to them most—books that reflect their obsessions and ambitions and in many cases helped them find their way in the world.
So this week, I took note of the books displayed in my home.
Not only do they line shelves in every room, but they’re stacked under a lamp, to add height, and on the floor, to hold a coffee cup. They’re within arm’s length of my keyboard and my favorite reading chair. I open only a few of them again and again, yet all the books I’ve chosen to display hold memories, and it only takes a glance at the book’s spine to trigger a smile or comment.
But what books made me who I am? Changed my life?
Which ones do I read again and again?
|The Karna Bookshelf|
Some of these books are here because I can’t write without them, and some are here due to the topic and the eloquence with which the author wrote. Others are here because they exposed me to new people, places, and ideas and encouraged me to form opinions.
But I think the main reason I placed each of these titles on the Karna Bookshelf is because I grew. I was open to listening and interested in hearing the message behind the words – and I was ready to apply what I’d read, and heard, to my life.
That’s probably why all the books pictured are ones I’ve read during the past 20 years, while in my 30’s and 40’s. The years my husband and I are raising a family, figuring out who we are while helping shape the next generation.