Project Bookshelf: Katie Culligan

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My bookshelf, more than any other thing I own, is a museum of all blueprints I’ve ever had for my life. Ruth Bader Ginsberg’s Time 100 photo watches over everything, cataloguing the time I thought I was going to be an environmental scientist, a movie musical star, a professional corsetiere. The top shelves are a novel-heavy mix of genres, with essay collection taking second place. They are in no particular order because I have made peace with my own mortality.


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The bottom shelves are treasured miscellaneous, but not leftovers: a shoebox full of all the nickels and pennies I’ve carried around since the eleventh grade, always meant for something exciting. Not one, but seven college prep books (only opened once in a panic very specific to the year 2013). Every Chicken Soup for the Soul that I snuck out of my mother’s room when I was in middle school. Those books are brilliant and I stand by my desire to keep them near me at all times, still to this day.


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Moving northeast, I have a story I wrote in the first grade that my grandparents had bound into a book, wherein I turn myself into a giraffe by eating magical gummy bears. Everyday I think “How am I going to top this?” and everyday I conclude that I am not. Directly underneath in the glass compartment is every Vogue from 2011-2014 because Lady Gaga’s meat dress made me think for a long time that I was interested in fashion; it turns out I’m just interested in weirdos. I also have a traffic ticket taped up because if I don’t make a move on that thing very soon, I will be in a legal situation. Life is a balancing act, or something like that.


Katie Culligan is currently young and terrified at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, where she is a junior studying creative writing. Her favorite responsibilities are NCAA rowing, big sisterhood, and believing unwaveringly in ghosts. Her writing is informed by this age of indestructible men, though she likes to think her life isn’t. She also thinks if you haven’t tried fig newtons with peanut butter yet, you really should.


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