I have too many books. I buy them compulsively and can’t let them go, and all attempts to clear them out end with me sitting cross-legged on the floor, reading. The Enabler will walk in and ask, “Didn’t you start going through those two hours ago?” Me: “Shh! This is the best part!” Deep-down, I know I can’t keep them all. We live in
. Our apartment isn’t that big. San Francisco
When it gets really out of control—as in, stacked two-deep on the shelf and taking over the floor—I have to buckle down and clear them out, but some of them are eternally safe: the keeper shelf always has immunity. (Actually, I have a “keeper-bookcase,” but who’s counting.) Here’s a random sampling from my keeper shelf, as of this weekend:
1) Dragonsdawn by Anne McCaffrey
This was the first science fiction book I ever read. I think I was fourteen. My mother brought me on a book-buying trip to our town's only used bookstore, and I found it in the woefully understocked science fiction corner. It was already beat-up when I made it mine, and now it’s in critical condition, but I could never trade it in.
2) My college copy of Pride and Prejudice
It’s still marked up with all the notes I took in class, with important scenes indicated by dog-eared pages. For my British Lit. class, I wrote a paper on how Austen uses laughter and smiles to differentiate the characters of Lizzy and Jane, so every time I go back and read it, I encounter underlines everywhere they do either one of these things. (Note: It’s often.)
3) A Light in the Attic by Shel Silverstein
I think my mother bought me this book before I was born. I certainly don’t remember a time when I didn’t have it. Every so often, I go back and open it at random, just for fun.
4) Halfway to the Grave by Jeaniene Frost
I loved this book so much, I read it cover to cover two times in a row. It’s funny and sexy and perfect escapism. Ironically, I don't have a picture because I lent it to a friend. (YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE!)
5) Moo by Jane Smiley
I found this hardcover first edition in a Salvation Army store for one dollar. I was in my senior year of college at the time, and the whole book cracked me up (It follows a handful of people on a college campus: students, professors, secretaries). Years later, I read A Thousand Acres, and I was blown away by how equally brilliant and totally different it was.
Honestly, who could get rid of these? (Number Six is out on loan, but this time I'm not sure who I gave it to. Anybody want to confess?)
There are more, of course, but that’s a cross-section. What’s on your keeper shelf?