Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Favorite Books Bookshelf, July 31, 2018

I recently was forced to move masses of books off and then later back onto their shelves for a carpet cleaning project, and it occurred to me that it might be fun for me to create a record of the books that are on my hallowed FAVORITE BOOKS BOOKSHELF at this particular moment in time. The shelf is pretty packed, so the rule is that I can’t really add a book without subtracting one. The other rule is that I have to remind myself that some of these books may not be the “best” book ever, but that it’s on this shelf because it hit me at the exact right time, or the reading experience was extraordinary in some memorable way that enhanced the book, or, well, because I don’t really care that this isn’t the “best” book ever. Also, for sure, some actually ARE the “best” ever. Usually, I have a sort of feeling as I’m reading and finishing. If I have to ask myself if a book should go on this shelf, I know it shouldn’t.

A few words to remind everyone that I’ve been around about as long as a sequoia, and I’m sure this list reflects to some extent a reader coming of age during a certain time/place. So be it. That is who I am. And this is my secret place where I separate the art from the artist and try not to worry about writers who might be dicks in real life. Additionally, I try not to put books by friends in this area, because those books get their own special shelves. And I (mostly) resist including children’s books.

I’ll also say that I have shelves of other books that I absolutely love! But usually there’s a little something extra that makes me send a book to this shelf. I’m really loathe to remove (or even reread) books that have been here for a long, long, long time…so if you’re going to question me in a deep way about why a book is here, it’s quite possible that I may not be able to answer to your satisfaction or even coherently. Suffice to say that typing each of these titles, touching each of these covers as I unshelved and reshelved did so much more than spark joy, as Marie Kondo suggests: Each book reminded me of who I was, who I am, and how I got to here.

Oh, and for those of you worried that you’re not finding The Great Gatsby here--!!—it, and The Catcher in the Rye, are in with the writing books, due to their outsize influence on me and my writing life.

Presented alphabetically here, but PLEASE don’t think I have them alphabetized on the shelf? What, you think I’m crazy?!? (Also, forgive me for being too lazy to italicize titles.)

Abbott, Lee K.: Love Is the Crooked Thing
Ansay, A. Manette: Vinegar Hill
Austen, Jane: Pride & Prejudice
Baker, Nicholson: The Mezzanine
Black, Robin: If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This
Bodsworth, Fred: Last of the Curlews
Boswell, Tom: Why Time Begins on Opening Day
Bronson, Po: Bombardiers
Campbell, Bonnie Jo: Mother, Tell Your Daughters
Canin, Ethan: The Palace Thief
Capote, Truman: Breakfast at Tiffany’s
Cather, Willa: My Antonia
Conrad, Joseph: Heart of Darkness
Didion, Joan: Play It as It Lays
Doerr, Harriet: Stones for Ibarra
Downham, Jenny: Before I Die
Eliot, T.S.: Collected Poems
Ellis, Bret Easton: Less Than Zero
Eugenides, Jeffrey: The Virgin Suicides
Ferris, Joshua: Then We Came to the End
Fitzgerald, F. Scott: The Pat Hobby Stories
Ford, Richard: Independence Day
Frazier, Ian: The Great Plains
Fried, Seth: “Frost Mountain Picnic Massacre,” One Story magazine
Gilchrist, Ellen: Victory Over Japan
Hamper, Ben: Rivethead
Hemingway, Ernest: A Moveable Feast
Hemingway, Ernest: In Our Time
Hemingway, Ernest: The Sun Also Rises
Hemingway, Ernest: Winner Take Nothing
Hempel, Amy: Reasons to Live
Ishiguro, Kazuo: The Remains of the Day
Jong, Erica: Fear of Flying
Krakauer, Jon: Into Thin Air
LaChapelle, Mary: House of Heroes
LeCarre, John: The Spy Who Came in from the Cold
Lee, Harper: To Kill a Mockingbird
Lowell, Susan: Ganado Red
MacLean, Norma: A River Runs through It
McCarthy, Cormac: All the Pretty Horses
McEwan, Ian: Atonement
McInerney, Jay: Bright Lights, Big City
McKinght, Reginald: The Kind of Light That Shines on Texas
Melville, Herman: Moby-Dick
Minot, Susan: Monkeys
O’Connor, Flannery: The Complete Stories
Plimpton, George: Open Net
Porter, Katherine Anne: Pale Horse, Pale Rider
Richard, Mark: The Ice at the Bottom of the World
Salinger, J.D.: Nine Stories
Shipstead, Maggie: “Astonish Me,” One Story magazine
Shriver, Lionel: We Need to Talk about Kevin
Simpson, Eileen: Poets in their Youth
Smith, Patti: Just Kids
Stafford, Jean: The Mountain Lion
Strand, Mark: The Continuous Life
Swarthout, Glendon: The Homesman
Tolstoy, Leo: Anna Karenina
Townsend, Sue: The Growing Pains of Adrian Mole
Townsend, Sue: The Secret Life of Adrian Mole, Aged 13 ¾
Updike, John: Pigeon Feathers
Wakefield, Dan: New York in the 50s
White, E.B.: Stuart Little
Whitman, Walt: Leaves of Grass
Wolfe, Tom: The Bonfire of the Vanities
Woodrell, Daniel: Winter’s Bone
Yates, Richard: Eleven Kinds of Loneliness


DC-area author Leslie Pietrzyk explores the creative process and all things literary.