Project Bookshelf: Eliza Browning

My bookshelf is an assorted jumble of the books I’ve accumulated throughout the years from a variety of different sources, representing my shifting tastes and needs through high school and college. A revolving collection split between my home bookcases and my dorm room shelves, my books often undergo frequent purges and additions to compensate for limited space. Borrowed library books, a few old favorites, novels for English classes, and textbooks for my art history major crowd the mantel I use for storage in my dorm, while the rest of my books live year-round in two bookcases at home.

At the end of high school, I purged my bookshelf of most of my children’s lit and young adult books, saving my favorites and donating the rest to Little Free Libraries or my mother’s high school classroom. I retained my favorite books, some which were presents, and literary classics needed for my English major, many of which I inherited from the college collections of my mother and grandmother. I buy most of my books secondhand from the Internet or local used bookstores, which allows me to save money and buy more while purchasing books for class or pleasure. I also collect nineteenth-century books with embossed covers, many of which I find in antique stores or at the Book Barn in Niantic, Connecticut.

Many of my books have come to me by chance, gifted by friends and relatives, foraged from Little Free Libraries, or stolen from unused piles once owned by family members. Before leaving college, one of my friends gifted me almost his entire collection of philosophy and classics, dog-eared and coffee-stained. My collection ranges from classics to contemporary, poetry to nonfiction, theory to memoir, textbooks and Andy Steves’ Europe: City-Hopping on a Budget. I hope to one day have space for my own library in my future house or apartment, allowing my book collection to further expand and grow.


Eliza Browning is a student at Wheaton College in Massachusetts, where she studies English and art history. Her work has previously appeared in Rust + Moth, Vagabond City Lit, Contrary Magazine, and Up the Staircase Quarterly, among others. She is a poetry editor for EX/POST Magazine and reads poetry for COUNTERCLOCK Journal.

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