Monday, January 12, 2009

Bookshelf in Review

Someone has been raiding my book shelf. Now, granted, my indignation is just a tad hypocritical. Half the books on that book shelf were raided from my dad's collection from his college days or my grandmother's many books. And furthermore, the actual shelf was raided from my brother's room, but I'm sure you won't blame me when you realize we have an abundance of books and a fair amount of shelves in this house and I was merely moving them around to give them a better home . . . well, at any rate, someone's been taking my books. And you can't very well blame me for being so possessive when you realize that each book that has made it on to that bookshelf holds certain value to me, either ceremonial or sentimental. So this is my bookshelf in review.

I guess I'll start with the most embarrassing -- yes, the four Twilight books are on my shelf. I'm not certain why I bought them all, but I was caught in the fandom for two months. Even though I hold a tiny bit of scorn for Twilight now, a lot of awesome things happened because of my brief fandom, and since I spend good money on those books, they're not going anywhere!

Then you'll see the bright blue covers of SparkNotes books. I have No Fear Spanish, No Fear Shakespeare, and SparkCourses in literature, short stories, and political science. A lot of people see SparkNotes as cheating, but for me they're a spring board. You need the basic knowledge before you can dive deeper, and that's why I like SparkNotes. (Also, No Fear Shakespeare is the cheapest I can find, so I always get that even though I don't particularly care for their "translation.") I also have "When In London: The Ultimate Study Abroad Guide" put out by SparkNotes for my eventual (theoretical?) trip to London. 

I've never been a marvelously huge fan of poetry, but I started warming to it once I entered high school. Featured on my bookshelf are mini collections of Milton and Rossetti, as well as a copy of "Evangeline" by Longfellow. I also a few "anthologies," one legit anthology of American poetry, one of Edgar Allen Poe's poetry, and dear present of 20th century American poetry.

I also have just about every C.S. Lewis book in this house on my bookshelf: The Great Divorce, The Space Trilogy, Mere Christianity, Surprised by Joy, Till We Have Faces (which is my most favorite out of all of Lewis's work), The Four Loves, The Screwtape Letters, Abolition of Man, Narnia . . . ah, but Narnia has been pilfered from my shelf as read-aloud material for probably the seventh time. My dad instilled in me an appreciation and love for the works of C.S. Lewis, who was truly brilliant. 

Then there are the economic and politics books -- oh, how the Foundation for Economic Education and TeenPact have infiltrated my bookshelf! Basic Economics by Thomas Sowell was the first addition, followed by "The Law" by Frederick Bastiat and The Road to Serfdom by F.A. Hayek. My mom also bought me Making Globalization Work by Joseph Stiglitz and a book about global business (Redefining Global Strategy) that I still haven't read because it's over my head. Freedom and Federalism by Felix Morley was given to me democracy year, "Real Citizenship" by Tim Echols was a TeenPact homework prize, and Human Action by Mises was another FEE addition. Not all of the FEE propaganda books made it on to my shelf, but those managed.

In the middle of the bottom shelf you can see a series -- these are my beloved Anne books. Acquired over a series of birthdays and Christmases, I finally have all eight. On the top shelf I also have an Anne of Green Gables primer (which has things like Anne Shirley's ancestry, a history of L.M. Montgomery, how to make plum puffs, et cetera) and an Anne of Green Gables themed journal. I am, yeah, kind of a fan. Anne of the Island is my favorite, with Anne's House of Dreams tying with Rainbow Valley for second.

I also have moderate amount of Shakespeare. I feel a little guilty for buying more and more Shakespeare when we have the complete works downstairs, but when it's Shakespeare you're spending your money on, no one argues. I have the Lambs' Tales from Shakespeare, Twelfth Night (my favorite), Much Ado About Nothing (my close second favorite), Hamlet, Midsummer Night's Dream, Macbeth, Comedy of Errors, and The Tempest, but I feel as though my collection is severely lacking. At any rate, no one can have too much of Shakespeare.

In addition to nurturing in me a love for Lewis, my dad has given me an appreciation for biographies and has been stocking my shelf with his favorites. My favorite so far has been No Compromise: The Life and Story of Keith Green, but I also like Out of the Comfort Zone and Personal Memoirs of Ulysses S. Grant. I have similar "life story" books like Blue Like Jazz and Praise Habit, and missionary stories like If I Perish, Don't Let the Goats Eat the Loquat Trees, These Are My People, and Sister Freaks. There's one I haven't read, that I'm greatly looking forward to, Against All Hope by Armando Valladares. I like reading true stories about actual people's lives.

Some individual books of note: Alice In Wonderland is amazing. My copy includes Through the Looking Glass, which I think I prefer, but both are genius. Into the Twilight Endlessly Grousing, while unfortunately the only Pat McManus book I own, was a brilliant library book sale find, and I treasure this copy. Also of note, I have the complete series of Sherlock Holmes! Some of my favorite stories of all time, and that's right, I have all of them. "Phantastes" is a short novel by George MacDonald that is another favorite and basically brilliant. Sophie's World is a genius novel that gives an overview of philosophy. Robinson Crusoe is a much beloved present that I am still reading but greatly enjoying. Christy is another classic girly novel that I still have mixed feelings about, but God has used that book, in addition to one of my favorite short stories "The Pearl" by Steinbeck, to work in my heart and mind. Finally, The Scarlet Letter has taken up permanent residence on my bookshelf, but . . . I haven't read it. I've tried to, several times, and it just never happens!

There is some sort of closure about owning a book, like the thoughts and words and stories and characters really become yours. When you own a book you are not an impostor or a poster for loving it. While I lack a great number of books I should like to own, I can only hope my bookshelf in the future should look completely different. I never really knew how wonderful it was to own a book until I assembled my bookshelf, and it has given me a whole new appreciation for the written word. What a blessing to live in a place where books are affordable and accessible, and may I never be loathe to share them with others.

1 comment:

Thursday's Child said...

I feel the same way when I discover a book missing from my own shelves. The nerve! I couldn't help but notice you're a fan of Sparknotes, and as such, I thought you might be interested in this other resource I found the other day. It's called Shmoop (

It's written by Berkeley, Stanford, and Harvard PhDs and grad students, so you know it's good, and their style really got me interested in what I was reading. Just thought you might want to give it a shot!=.