On My Bookshelf, No. 1

I have what builders call a “plant shelf” in my master bedroom.  When my husband and I first moved into our home thirteen years ago (today!), I had no idea what to put on that shelf.  I tried some leftover wedding flowers and random plants, but it didn’t look good at all.  As I began collecting books, because I finally had a place to store them, I realized that they would look good on this plant shelf.


For the next few months, I’m going to share with you the titles of the books that are on this plant shelf, ten at a time.  On it, I keep books that I’ve read and liked more than other books.  (You could even say that most of these are favorites.)  I find their presence there comforting.  I recognize them, even without being able to see the type, from their colors and heights and placement. They are my friends. And sometimes, when I’m feeling particularly lonely or self-pitying, I look up and remember that I have many friends, and all of them wait for me within the books of this shelf.

I have previously posted about my many bookshelves here and here.

Today’s first ten books, on this particular shelf, are the following.


Our Sister Killjoy (1977) by Ama Ata Aidoo

Watership Down (1972) by Richard Adams

The Inferno (1555) by Dante Alighieri

Two or Three Things I Know for Sure (1995) by Dorothy Allison

A Simplified Map of the Real World (2013) by Stevan Allred

How the Garcia Girls Lost Their Accents (1991) by Julia Alvarez

The Blind Assassin (2000) by Margaret Atwood

The Girls’ Guide to Hunting and Fishing (1999) by Melissa Bank

The View from Pompey’s Head (1954) by Hamilton Basso

A Place Where the Sea Remembers (1993) by Sandra Benitez

59 thoughts on “On My Bookshelf, No. 1

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  1. I have two bookcases. One is full and the other one is getting there. Sometimes I buy books just for how the book cover looks on the shelf.

  2. Cool use. When we ran out of space, we took a trip to IKEA for more shelves. So, many to read, so little time. I have not thought of “Watership Down” in years.

        1. Emily, I have shared my guilt of starting and not finishing books. I saw something that applies to people like me. It said “every book is a mystery novel, if you don’t finish it.” Guilty as charged. BTG

  3. I love seeing what other people have on their shelves. And, I feel the same way about my shelves of books. I just like to look at them, and be reminded of the books I’ve read and the ones I have yet to read. 🙂

  4. Blind Assassin is a favorite, but not as much as Alias Grace ;-). And, having read Cavedweller and Bastard out of Carolina by Dorothy Allison, I somehow missed this one. So now I know what I shall be borrowing from the digital library next. Result. Thanks!

  5. Love the concept and the post. Years ago I tried to write a short story about books on a bookshelf. Alas, it was abandoned. I think the unfinished manuscript is also lost. 😦
    Emily, thanks for your post. We eagerly await the next chapter! 🙂

  6. I love this. I have a book room in my house, and my goal is to have my large shelving unit containing the fiction books become filled with author-signed and favorite books. I am almost on the third shelf at this time. (I also have a large barrister that contains books like my Easton Presses, vintage Laura Ingalls Wilder collection and my antique geography texts.)

    1. You have a vintage Laura Ingalls Wilder collection? I am SO jealous! Did you see the Google homepage on Saturday, for her birthday? It was adorable. (If you didn’t, I took a screen shot of it and I can email it to you.) And I love your idea to have signed books on one shelf. Very very cool!

  7. Your bookshelves are so wonderful! I simply have cheap box-store “bookcases” and piles upon piles of neatly stacked tomes.

    What version of Dante do you prefer? Personally, I enjoy Ciardi.

  8. Oh wow! How amazing to see a book I published in such illustrious company. Stevan will be thrilled, Emily. Thanks for sharing your lovely bookshelf; I’m working on making a Northwest authors’ one but it might have to be a whole bookcase because I keep running out of room.

      1. A friend of mine made a Northwest one and shared photos, and it was a great resource for me to see who I haven’t read yet. I’m excited about your bookshelf series because it’ll do the same thing, and I know my taste is similar enough to yours that you’ll help me find some gems.

  9. What a lovely little series! I’m glad to see that ‘Watership Down’ is on your favorites shelf. I only read it a couple of years ago and I couldn’t believe how amazing it was (or that with all the violence it was considered a kids’ book)!

  10. Thank you for your wonderful post. I look forward to seeing what books inspire you. We already have several in common. In our home we have a family favorites bookshelf with Harry Potter, Unfortunate Events, Bilbo and Frodo, “Watership Downs”. These are the books we read aloud or and all love. In my office are my favorite books about writing. In an area where visitors can peruse are the books that entertain or help folks remember their first love, adventure, or their youth. This is where Nicholas Sparks, Grisham, and “Where the Red Fern Grows” all live. As much as I love reading from a Kindle, if a book inspires, I want the firm feel of paper and binding; I want to share these friends with visitors; And I want to be able to flip through pages to find the passage that haunts.

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