My Bookshelf

What books would you put on your favorites bookshelf?

What books would you select for your bookshelf to be painted by artist Jane Mount? Her Ideal Bookshelf paintings (click link to see) featured in the New Yorker last August 11 inspired me to put twenty volumes together on one shelf and photograph them.   Anne of Green Gables was a Christmas 1925 gift to my mother from her mother and the Gene Stratton-Porter book was my mother’s.  C.S. Lewis’ Silver Chair is a stand-in for The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. Most of these books belonged to my sister  Mary and got passed down to me. Longfellow was a gift to my brother David and me from Cousin Paul in 1961. In sixth grade I had to memorize, “Under a spreading chestnut tree the village smithy stands….. The Beatrix Potter in French was from my sister (who signed it Marie) and presented it to me on my half birthday one January fourth.  The Tiny Golden Book in The Naughty Little Guest by Dorothy Kunhardt. The Sunny Sulky Book opened two different directions with the good children and bad children stories.  I loved Fairy Eat-It-All who came in the night with a spoon for a little boy whose eyes were bigger than his  stomach, and he had to eat his way through a mound of food he had taken and not eaten.  So here are my books from growing up, all on one shelf.
My Bookshelf

You tell me my old books smell
like a Goodwill bin.
Old dust and stick your nose in,

The weight of them
on the house’s foundation.
My hardwood floors sag.
You say I’m impaired
in technology.
Society will evolve without me?
All I need in my life
is an e-reader not musty books.

I like the feel of them in my hand.
Turn them over, slip off a dustjacket.
See the author peer back at me.
The opening of the first page.
Or a slender bookmark to hold my place.
I’m sad they’re closing the store.

My list of reasons to read
from a page (or your preferred screen)–

There’s escape,
maps, cooking, and signs,
travel or how to put something together
take meds,
but for me
reason number one. Two and three.
There’s my mother’s voice
my dad’s, in certain volumes
reading to me-
the escape I mentioned before.
And enjoyment. Sheer enjoyment.
I’m sure you can think of more.

My Favorite Bookshelf Image
What books would you put on your favorites bookshelf?

40 thoughts on “My Bookshelf

  1. mine would have Little Women, The Bobbsey Twins, Five Little Peppers and many others I can’t remember

  2. what a neat idea! I like your collection–sorta like the books my children grew up with. As for me, being an ‘oldie’ and not having many books as a child I mostly recall our mother reading us
    Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Wish I still had it just to look at the illustrations.

  3. good idea. Last night I got books off the bookshelf for Anna to read that were Erika’s when she was her age.

  4. My sister had an old copy of The Wizard of Oz and lots of others whose titles I don’t remember. Like Dorothy, I liked Grimm’s Fairy Tales. I also loved Nancy Drew mysteries!! Today I would probably photograph a shelf full of cookbooks – I love them!!!

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  7. Loved this.Love books. Have every book of Aaron’s and Elise’s in the attic and on shelves.

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  10. My old book shelf would have gardening books. Because i am such an avid gardener, I use many books for reference. i like “looking things up” for advice on the flowers and plants I grow. Especially the Roses! I’ve taken this knowledge and turned it into an enjoyable hobby that actually earns me a small amount of money. (Keeps me busy through the Winter months too) Wondering what I do? Want a peek at my gardens? to see what type of books are of interest to me.

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  12. You have some great titles here Ruth. Like I said in my post, there’s nothing quite like the feel of an antique book. Wonderful photo as well.

  13. Lovely post, Ruth. my small flat groans with books, and I love the, I now have an e-reader too, and am quite excited about owning stories once more that the shelves here could no long accommodate. I may reply to this on my page with photos of some of m shelves.

    • I look forward to seeing your shelves filled with books. It feels so satisfying when someone responds to a photograph I post. If you send me your snail address to my email listed I will send a postcard of the bookshelf and poem printed on back. Thanks

      Sent from my iPhone

  14. My shelf would have the Bobbsey Twins and a Garden of Verses by Robert Louis Stevenson which I still have. Above it was said, and I agree, no e-reader would ever hold such memories, picking up an e-reader years later would never take one back like the feel of a book and the smell of the pages.

    • Thank you Frizz. What 20 books would you choose for your favorite bookshelf photo? Best to you. I enjoy your guitar music.

  15. Never can resist a bookshelf, Ruth. How lovely to have books going back so far, and their associated memories. Over the years many of mine have been passed on. The Kindle will never replace books for me.

  16. I LOVE this! I have special shelves of books–my other’s favorite poet, Rupert Brooks, boys’ adventure books from the 1920s, given by my grandparents to my uncle who died in WWII, books inscribed as gifts given to my mother from her mother when she was just a little girl, and worn out books that I treasured as a kid. I also love to see what other people have on their shelves. They not only give as a clue as to who they are, but they allow us to guess at the stories that helped them become the people they are.

  17. I love your book shelf and many of the books you have are on my shelf too. I would have so many children’s books– the three by E.B. White that I love- Charlott’es Web, Stuart Little, and Trumpet of the Swan. The Bible and The Book of Common Prayer would have to be on there too. I love old books. I don’t have an e-reader and just can’t imagine reading while not holding a book in my hands. We lost our little family-run used bookstore recently and it made me so sad as I loved to browse in there and smell all the old books. We lost our Barnes and Noble too. I hate to see all these bookstores close.

  18. hi Ruth,
    great poem intro:
    “You tell me my old books smell
    like a Goodwill bin.
    Old dust and stick your nose in,
    even new books smell!

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