Bookshelves As Storytellers


I love looking at people’s bookshelves. I guess that means I love hanging out with people who value reading and all that goes along with it. I like to see what titles people read, collect, and what they consider worthy to garner the limited space booklovers never have enough of.

I have my favorites and some I consider classics – Gone With the Wind (for sure), The Count of Monte Cristo (absolutely!), and The Thorn Birds (can you tell I’m a hopeless romantic?). I do pull myself out of my romantic haze every now and again, as you can see by the copy of Edgar Allen Poe’s poems. That wonderful little covered jar was given to me by my daughter when she returned home from a trip to Australia.


Alongside the books, I like my shelves to hold memory triggers – small items that I’ve picked up or loved ones have given me that transport me back to wherever the memory lives. Like the photo of Diana on her wedding day – not an often-seen photo, but something about it pulled at me. I was transfixed by it and the stories I could imagine surrounding it. She was the topic of my Master’s degree thesis, which was actually written after her death.


While I was pursuing my undergraduate degree, I took an Authors in Focus class that was based on the writing of Jon Hassler. I collected the books and was fortunate to meet Jon and have him autograph several of my copies. At the end of the term, our class catered a reception for Jon and served up dishes that were mentioned in his novels. Oh, the dandelion puff? It was a gift from my parents. Sadly, they’re gone from this earth, but I think of them with love and gratitude every time I look at it.


Some people complain about books being “too big” to read. They’re kidding, right? There’s nothing more exciting than finding a big, thick book to take with me when I’m packing for a vacation. Real tragedy is finishing the book before I get home and not having anything to read! In a more adventuresome corner of my bookshelf, you’ll find Lord of the Rings and the Harry Potter series. Yes, I do enjoy adventure, magic, and fantasy. I like reading the books and then seeing the film (if that comes to pass). The jar and the rock – the rock was plucked from a beach in Maine where the entire cove was full of rocks with soft, smooth edges. What a tactile adventure! It was hard to choose just one, but I made a decision after carrying a bag of them around for an hour and contemplating the possibility of paying extra for overweight luggage. The shell/sand came from Eleuthera, Bahamas. I remember how hot it was, trying to find a container for the sand, deciding on ONE shell, and bobbing in the surf with my sisters.


My bookshelf holds and tells stories. Sometimes I stand in front of it and have a wonderful, memorable look back.


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