On My Bookshelf, No. 4

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, 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 or the title, 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.

The first ten books on this shelf can be found here, the second ten are here, and the third ten are here.

Today’s fourth set of ten books are the following.


The Adventures and Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes (1894) by Arthur Conan Doyle

An American Tragedy (1925) by Theodore Dreiser

Rebecca (1938) by Daphne du Maurier

House of Sand and Fog (1999) by Andre Dubus III

The Memory Keeper’s Daughter (2005) by Kim Edwards

The Secrets of a Fire King (1997) by Kim Edwards

What is the What (2006) by Dave Eggers

Middlemarch (1874) by George Eliot

Silas Marner (1861) by George Eliot

Peace Like a River (2001)by Leif Enger


Have you read and enjoyed any of these books?

39 thoughts on “On My Bookshelf, No. 4

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  1. I have only read House of Sand and Fog, and The Memory Keeper’s Daughter, which I thought was so sad. Rebecca and Middlemarch have been on my to-read list for centuries. What are your thoughts on What is the What?

    1. What is the What was an interesting autobiography of a man who had been a lost boy in Sudan and escaped and was trying to make it in the United States. Eggers was the “ghost” writer for it. It was good and eye-opening, but also sad and shocking. You have to read Rebecca and Middlemarch!

  2. I was scheduled to take a lit class that included Middlemarch, but I wound up taking a Craft of Poetry class because I had missed a craft class somewhere in my scheduling. Anyway, since then I’ve been dying to read it, and I just haven’t managed to get it to the top of my TBR list. What about it made it viable for elite status on the planter shelf?

    1. Oh my goodness! It is one of the best books ever written hands down! I loved it so much I wrote three posts about it, and when I looked at comments on Goodreads, the most enthusiastic and hilarious review called it B-A-N-A-N-A-S! It was bananas in a great way. Masterpiece!

      1. I’m in the middle of two books right now, and I have a library list a mile long already. But anything that makes you gush this way deserves a violent shove into first place. Thanks for renewed reading motivation! (As if I needed it. 😉 )

  3. I have the same edition of Rebecca! And I loved Middlemarch—have to re-read that one soon (she says, looking at her TBR pile and despairing). Love Sherlock Holmes stories too. I have the Memory Keeper’s Daughter, but I haven’t read it yet.

    1. I think Middlemarch is one that should be reread often, but I’m a hypocrite since I’ve only been through it once! I hear you on that large and ever-growing TBR pile.

  4. The only one of these I’ve read is Peace Like a River. It’s been a long time now, but I remember liking it but I wish I could remember what is was about. Middlemarch has long been on my to-read list as well. Perhaps I should move it up.

    1. Yes, move up Middlemarch! Now that I think about it, I can’t remember enough about Peace Like a River to say anything intelligent about it. Sad.

  5. I read Rebecca as a teen and loved it. I read The Memory Keeper’s Daughter as an adult and hated it. Middlemarch seems to be forever to my ‘to be read’ pile!

  6. If memory serves, I’ve only read one of these: Silas Marner. I hate, loathe, and despise it as one of the worst atrocities ever passed as “literature.”

    However, my opinion may be somewhat tainted in that I was forced to read it and did not pick it up of my own volition.

    1. Ha ha! I was forced to read it too and it honestly sits on my shelf just because I own a copy. I need to reread it to make a better judgment.

  7. Haven’t read any of these but I’ve been wanting to get my hands on “Middlemarch” for a looong time.

  8. Good list. House of Sand and Fog. This one makes me shudder. I have never read Rebecca, but read “The Key to Rebecca” by Ken Follett which is about a spy code based off the book. Take care, BTG

  9. Love “The Memory Keeper’s Daughter.” “The House of Sand and Fog” makes me so angry and can barely discuss it with people. I’ve been thinking of reading “Rebecca” for a couple of years, but my sister said, ” No, no, no. Don’t do it.” lol

  10. House of Sand and Fog is very sad. Rebecca and Middlemarch are favorites. I wasn’t that fond of The Memory-Keeper’s Daughter. I didn’t think the characters behaved believably. I know I read Silas Marner, but I don’t remember it well. Of course, I’ve read some Sherlock, but I doubt if I’ve read all the stories. I have always thought An American Tragedy would be outdated and a massive drag, but that’s just based on the movie.

  11. Ah, Emily! You be dissin’ American Tragedy?!? I read that book when I was 14-15 and absolutely LOVED it! It was sooooo tragic and sad! I have been meaning to reread it now, over 40 years later and compare reactions. Love, love, love The Memory Keeper’s Daughter and Secrets of a Fire King–Edwards rocks the best collection of short stories I’ve ever read! Haven’t read House of Sand and Fog (Maybe a bit too creepy for me?) or the last 4, but Rebecca is on my 2015 must-read list. I even have a copy now! I should probably read Middlemarch, too, especially given your glowing recommendation! And now I’m rather fascinated about Silas Marner! 🙂

    1. I actually really liked An American Tragedy, but I don’t think it is for everybody. It isn’t as good or engaging as Dreiser’s other novels. And yes, so tragic and yet representative of human nature and the danger of pride. Thanks for giving me a chance to say more!

        1. I’ve been thinking about this a lot, and what I’ve come up with is that you should read The Essential Feminist Reader edited by Estelle Freedman. It has a collection of feminist thought from all over the world through every decade. I reviewed it here: https://thebookshelfofemilyj.com/2014/05/15/a-history-of-feminist-thought-the-essential-feminist-reader/ It will be your best bet for finding feminist ideas from an international perspective. I hope you enjoy it.

  12. What a lovely idea, to photograph your books! I do the same thing with flowers in my garden. And favourite walks, too. My problem, inside the house, at least, is space….With that in mind, I got rid of a pile of books (shocking) in one draconian sweep about a year ago. The truth is, I still miss them. And every so often I find myself looking for something – only to realise that, yes, it did go to the charity shop. WHY? Also, I struggle with the A-Z thing. When I moved house, I was determined to get organised and spent an entire day, with a patient friend, putting my books in alphabetical order. I am happy to report that all that soon went by the wayside. I am back to my cheerful muddle. As for your ten here, Rebecca, Middlemarch and Silas Marner are absolute gems. Clearly, Sophie Kinsella notwithstanding, you are a woman of discernment. Lovely blog.

    1. Thanks! I have other shelves that are organized by color or by read/unread. A to Z isn’t the only way. Glad you are organizing them a way that makes sense to you.

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