Things to Read - My Ideal Bookshelf

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Have you seen My Ideal Bookshelf? The book's writers/ illustrators interviewed several famous creative people (writers, artists, musicians, designers, etc.) about their absolute favorite books. It's a fun read, full of popular titles as well as several relatively unknown publications. Some of the interviewees filled their shelf to capacity, others just chose a few (a few? can you imagine only choosing a few? such clarity is beyond me).

I'm a little in awe of the fact that George Saunders included Stuart Dybek's The Coast of Chicago: Stories on his shelf, which I have loved for years.

The book has me thinking about what I'd include on my favorite shelf. Definitely all the great short story writers - Munro, Chekov, Carver, Lahiri, Murakami; possibly multiple books by Munro (Lives of Girls and Women;Selected Stories, 1968-1994(esp. for Miles City, Montana).

For non-fiction - Nothing to Envy: Ordinary Lives in North Korea and The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals - both of which changed the way I see the world.

A collection of Alex Katz paintings for some artistic inspiration. Maybe Andrew Wyeth too.

Probably some Margaret Atwood, but which book?

Definitely Kate Chopin's The Awakening, just because I love the characters/writing. Same with Tolstoy's The Cossacks.

Possibly Virginia Woolf, despite the fact that I haven't read Woolf since my 20s, though I keep meaning to spend some time with Mrs. Dalloway in the upcoming months.

Vikram Seth's A Suitable Boy because when I read it fifteen years ago, I spent the whole summer unable to put it down.

2666 with hope that I'll understand it one day.

And what about books like Somerset Maugham's Of Human Bondage ? After college, this novel had such an impact on my life - the idea that some people for whatever reason cannot handle a world where religion is "real", the idea that a place can change you (for better or worse), and that sometimes we fall for awful people - everything really resonated with me. But when I tried to read it again, as an adult, I couldn't even finish it - the characters simply bored me.

Or what about Mo Yan's The Garlic Ballads? Probably the best novel I've read in the last five or so years, but so depressing. Would I want it on my bookshelf? My one tiny bookshelf?

Limiting oneself is tricky, sort of like those college essays I always dreaded (describe why you're awesome in two pages or less).

What would you include??

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