It’s difficult to define what my bookshelf actually is, because I share my home with two English Lit professors, and there’s a bookshelf in almost every room containing books from all three of us. The bookshelf in my room is one of the few exceptions to the rule: every one of these books is mine, and I keep my favorites close. Many are books from my childhood: The Chronicles of Narnia, Artemis Fowl, A Series of Unfortunate Events, and so on. Some are more recent fare: Terry Pratchett and Douglas Adams have particular prominence.
This shelf is the one I rearranged most recently. While some of the bookshelves elsewhere in the house were being shifted, I took the opportunity to put some favorites in a more proper place. Aside from the aforementioned Douglas Adams, many of these are hand-me-down copies – everything between Dracula and Moby Dick is an old copy filled with teaching notes. It’s always a joy to flip through them and read what my parents thought was important to note down, a way to connect with them even when we’re not in the same room. The Stanislavski books – An Actor Prepares and Building a Character – are a remnant from my Theater minor, and hold a special place in my heart.
A few other books inhabit my room, these on my writing desk along with the notebooks I use to organize my own writing. These are another mix of hand-me-downs and the few new books I’ve bought, most recently a translated copy of Ryōgo Narita’s excellent Baccano!, a story about mafiosos, alchemy, and incompetent thieves set against the backdrop of the roaring twenties. Out on the desk is a treasured copy of Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves, one of my favorite books in the world. I first read it long before I had any business reading horror, and I’ve picked it up again almost yearly since then.
This bookshelf is in the basement, and is a bit more representative of the rest of the house. Most of these are my father’s classic sci-fi collection, although I’ve added a few of my own: Andy Weir’s The Martian and Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash.
I’ve always been very confused by questions about why I read. Everyone seems to expect some deep philosophical logic behind the books I spend my time on. To me, reading is an end in itself, and I read whatever is available and feels good to experience. If I have a bias, it’s towards science fiction, fantasy, and horror. I love exploring other worlds through stories. Stories have always been a central focus in my life, to the point that (as my parents tell me) one of my first words as a child was “Read.” My bookshelf isn’t only what I’m reading now, it’s also a living history of my life and a record of everything that’s inspired me to reach where I am today, a record that will continue long into the future.
Gray Flint-Vrettos is an aspiring author and a graduate of Ohio Wesleyan University with a BA in English and Creative Writing, and minors in Theater Arts and Film. He has a long history with theater, having appeared in multiple productions both on stage and behind the curtain. Currently, she’s focusing on getting involved with publishing and writing her first book.