Project Bookshelf with Intern-at-Large Bethany Milholland

I, like many others, made the age-old mistake of bringing too many books my freshman year of college. To my surprise, the only shelf in my twelve-by fifteen-foot dorm room was a thin strip of oak wood at the top of the standard desk. About twenty books could fit on it, and I had to buy an extra tiny shelf to support the overflow. The soft oak shelf held my comforts, fears, and hopes. My mother’s worn copy of Where The Sidewalk Ends, complete with her drawings, was in the direct middle of the shelf. Next to that was my three in one book that held Carrie, The Shining, and Salem’s Lot. The rest of the books, the classics, were books I hoped to learn the author’s skill. They were heavily underlined, especially the lines that compared to silk milk chocolate if sentences had tastes.

Sometimes I would look at them and think why did I bring so many books?

My books back home sit in cardboard boxes in my family’s storage units. They’re trying to move from my childhood home into a newer and better one. My childhood home where I read my first book to my sister. My home where my mother would discipline me by sending me to my bubblegum pink room without allowing me to read. The home where I drew pictures in the basement and asked my mom to transcribe the story.

The lines marking our heights will be painted over and the milestones will be left behind, but I will still have my books. I still have the first books I’ve ever read, every book with a meaning stays in my room. That’s why I brought them to college, to bring my home with me into the terrifying world that is living on my own. Now, as a senior, I am no longer scared of college anymore. If anything I am gripping onto college tight like a security blanket because the real world is much scarier.

I love my books, but I don’t need them right now.  The books I do have with me are ones I am currently reading. I bring them with me when I go camping or to a quiet place, which means I lose them a lot. That’s why there are two copies of Catch 22 and Cat’s Cradle. I didn’t bring my comfort books to help me feel better because I have myself and my determination to move forward without looking back. However, when I move into my own apartment and feel unsure of myself, every wall will be lined with shelves of books.

Bethany Milholland is a senior at The University of Evansville majoring in Creative Writing. She is the former Co-Editor-in-Chief of The Evansville Review. She is also a former intern for her University’s magazine The Crescent. In her spare time, she enjoys earning a cat’s love and shopping at every thrift store within a thirty-mile radius.

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