my ideal bookshelf

my ideal bookshelf

The assignment sounds straightforward enough. Select a small shelf of books that represent you–the books that have changed your life, that have made you who you are today, your favorite favorites. My Ideal Bookshelf.

Jane Mount, a wonderful artist, asked over a hundred creative people which books mattered to them the most, and then she painted their ideal bookshelves. Check out her website for lots more wonderful book paintings. She captures the spines so beautifully that you can almost feel the book.

One of the people she asked was Jennifer Egan:

jennifer egan's ideal bookshelf

jennifer egan’s ideal bookshelf

A long time ago I made a list of the 10 books I would keep if I could only keep 10, but I can’t find it. I know Ladder of Years, Light Years and The Anna Papers were on that long-ago list. I also have each of those in paperback and on my Kindle. After spending the afternoon playing with my books, I’m very satisfied with these 12. So at this very moment, here is my ideal bookshelf:

cnm ideal bookshelf

cnm ideal bookshelf 4-22-13

Twenty-four hours later I’m up to 16…

cnm ideal bookshelf 4-23-13

cnm ideal bookshelf 4-23-13

What’s on your ideal bookshelf : )

13 thoughts on “my ideal bookshelf

  1. Wonderful post! I’ve read a few on your best shelf, and like you, The Maytrees is on mine. Gatsby, I guess, so perfect. Moby-Dick, the Bible, A New Earth, To the Lighthouse, maybe A Room of One’s Own. Hardly halfway there. A lot to think about. Thanks, Cynthia.


    • Thanks, Richard. I’m already distressed to realize I left off William Faulkner’s A Light in August, Carson McCullers’ The Heart Is A Lonely Hunter, and Michael Ondaatje’s The English Patient… I need to give this some more thought. I may have another ideal bookshelf before the week is out : )


  2. Love your shelf of books, C. The Gathering by Anne Enright is one of my all-time favorite novels. I’d have to add The Shipping News by Annie Proulx to mine. And I love every one of Anne Tyler’s novels. Do you see a pattern here?


  3. Pilgrim At Tinker Creek, Hotel New Hampshire, Bleak House, Faust, Hamlet (oh, hush up and get on with it), Walden Pond, everything Dorothy Parker and Maya Angelou, and Catcher In The Rye. The last has special meaning. I had a first edition and found my husband had marked it up while teaching it to high school sophomores. That book nearly ended his life 🙂 What a fun idea to play with. The favorite books, not ending my husband’s life.


    • Oh, Cyd, some good choices. I’d like to re-read Bleak House.

      Also, trying to go to sleep, I remembered another book I left off–Michael Cunningham’s The Hours… I wonder how many is too many to have on my ideal bookshelf… James Franco has 31 on his–stacked sideways and on top of each other!


  4. This was the first post on my blog, prompted by the fact that my husband and I are still traveling for his job and I can only bring desert island books. Thanks for posting. It’s always lovely to see who writers are reading.


  5. Our posts did line up this week! I agree that Matisse writes beautifully on art. It was interesting to read other suggestions in the comments. It would be easier to list 100 than 10. For those who haven’t read my post on favorite novels for adults and teens: The Wind Up Bird Chronicle, A Secret History, The Hungry Tide, Flight Behavior, Anne of Green Gables, Jellicoe Road, Speak, The Fault in Our Stars, Code Name Verity, Wonder and more on my blog.


    • Funny, isn’t it, Sarah? I added a new bookshelf photo a few minutes ago with the 4 books I thought of since yesterday–so I’m up to 16. I hate to think which ones I would have to cut to get to 10…


    • Naomi, I LOVE the painting you made of your ideal bookshelf. It’s awesome. Thank you so much for leaving the link here. I hope others will check your post out.


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