Project Bookshelf: From the Bookshelves of Nicole Oquendo

Ah, the bookshelf. A writer’s most prized possession. This week Sundress Publications is showing our bookshelf love by inviting you all to snoop around our bookshelves and learn the back story on all the odds and ends that make our shelves, well, uniquely ours.




Almost a year ago to the day, I had to condense everything I owned into a tiny storage unit. Super tiny, for real. I could maybe fit half of the couch I’m sitting on in there. I sold, threw away, or donated most of what was in the apartment, but made space for a few boxes of books. I’m slowly accumulating replacements for what I had lost.

During my MFA, I had the privilege of meeting writers like Eula Biss, John D’Agata, Forrest Gander, Dinty W. Moore, and others, and collected their signatures in these books. When I’m writing through a difficult section of my own work, I read what they’ve created, engaging the part of my brain that loves to learn, and remember as best I can what it was like to sit and listen to them read aloud. I think about what makes books like Notes from No Man’s Land successful, and then I write. Or I paint on that easel you see. Or I play that violin tucked into the corner.

To me, my current book collection is embarrassingly small. But the contents of those other shelves are just as important to me. I consider graphic novels, comic books, and video games to be literature, too. You can’t see the hundreds of games I own digitally, but if they were the size of books, I’d be in trouble.

Also, no apartment is complete without stuffed elephants, a Jack action figure, paintings from dear friends, and Grateful Dead art. I can’t stress this enough.

—Nicole Oquendo, Assistant Editor for Sundress Publications and Nonfiction Editor for the Best of the Net Anthology



Nicole Oquendo has tugged at genres for most of her life. Having recently completed her first book, a hybrid memoir project, she is currently drafting a book of poetry about abandoned places, as well as an illustrated chapbook of Lucretius translations. Her work has appeared in DIAGRAM, Hippocampus Magazine, and other literary journals. In her free time, when she is not writing or working on terrifying paintings for her loved ones, you will find her tweeting the madness of Cassandra of Troy @nicoleoq.


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