Here it is. This bookshelf is by no means extensive or accurately indicative of my book collection. But it’s the set-up I have in place to make myself appear organized and under control when I am, in fact, neither of those things.
On top is usually the book I’m currently reading, which right now is Melissa Febos’ book of memoirs, Abandon Me.
The first shelf holds (for the most part) my poetry books, my favorites of which being Sylvia Plath, Jeanann Verlee, Emily Dickinson, Edna St. Vincent Millay, and Richard Siken. At the end, I randomly have Rosemary’s Baby and Carrie, neither of which I have gotten around to reading yet.
The second shelf is where I keep either my favorites, or just ones that I have finished reading. I love Her Body and Other Parties, short stories by Carmen Maria Machado. I also love Murakami’s Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, Chelsea Girls by Eileen Myles, and Everything is Illuminated by Johnathan Safran Foer. But, interestingly, a lot of my all-time favorites I have either rented from the library, lent to a friend, or otherwise lost track of—for example, Mrs. Dalloway by Virginia Woolf and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak.
Finally, the third shelf, which is more or less a place for my to-be-read books, my started-but-never-finished books, and other random books that have nowhere else to go. I am extremely guilty of starting new books before I finish the one I’m currently working on, which results in countless books being left to die with bookmarks in the middle—for example, The Unbearable Lightness of Being by Kundera, The Stranger by Camus, and Roxane Gay’s Bad Feminist. I’ll revisit them eventually, but for now, they’re resting.
Like I said, I tend to check books out from the library before I purchase them. While I would love to own and collect every book I can get my hands on, my college-student budget doesn’t really allow it. However, a large majority of the books that I do own have either been gifted to me (my mom has bought me a book of poetry for almost every Christmas), found (Rosemary’s Baby and Carrie were creepily laid out on a street corner in Brooklyn, so I obviously had to take them home), or bought in some meaningful way (I got a signed copy of Jeanann Verlee’s Prey at Brooklyn Book Festival, and it always reminds me of that beautiful day). So while my bookshelf isn’t complete, it is specific to me, and all the more special for that.
Jessica Lovett is a junior at Fordham University, where she studies Comparative Literature and French. Her poetry has been published in Fordham’s Bricolage and ANGLES Literary Magazine. She also loves to write music, impulsively get tattoos, and watch movie musicals.