23 June 2024

Laura's bookcases

"Our three-part library starts here, in the bedroom, on our fancy Home Depot particle-board shelves. They bow a bit, 'cause our studs aren't ideally placed, and we have too much media. Our books are mostly contemporary fiction, with some literary nonfiction and my grandmother's poetry books thrown in. These shelves have the first part of the alphabet: Louisa May Alcott to Carl Hiaasen, as well as some photo albums. You can see Shelly, my childhood Cabbage Patch Kid, staring at you benevolently from above. The shelves on the right have our CDs"
"Above is the weirdest thing in the house: my grandmother shrine. My grandmothers were both admirable ladies, so I decided to non-obviously memorialize them here. The white cloth is a khata, a Tibetan ceremonial scarf. I presented it in greeting to a lama, who blessed it and gave it back. The riding crops belonged to my maternal grandmother and are from Libya, where the family lived when my mom was young. The one in front has an iron spike in it. The silver coin purse belonged to my paternal grandmother. Inside are some Tibetan blessing pills given to me by the lama; I was supposed to swallow them, but I decided to do this instead. What does a secular humanist do when presented with sacred pills? She uses them to build a grandmother memorial.

To the right is the middle part of the alphabet: Homer to Jhumpa Lahiri, with heavy representation from John Irving and Stephen King. The bookshelf belonged to a former roommate. Note the attractively displayed cans of cat food.

This final section has the rest of our books. John LeCarré to Jeanette Winterson, as well as some reference and travel guides. The shelves were a wedding present from my mother-in-law; they're custom made by a local craftsman. Rob the cat, looking weirdly huge, supervises."


  1. I just read a column by Lucy Mangan in Stylist magazine - she mentions that she would like to invent the 'shelfie' (photos of her bookshelves instead of herself - re the 'selfie' craze) - I have sent her an email to point out that you are already on the case...

  2. "Surface Detail"!! I'm reading that right now!


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