Project Bookshelf: K Slade

My bookshelf is a time capsule. It holds the remnants of my soul, keeping my past self and her memories safe behind its flimsy bindings. I’ve returned home for the past three summers, changed by the collegiate environment I spent the last nine months. 

It catalogs my arrivals with new stacks of indie novels. It recognizes I have changed. My Maximum Ride books greet newcomers with mild interest as my abandoned Shadowhunters series dissects the sprawling notes I left for it in the margins. 

The books I return with are only temporary. My shelf is reserved for the past. It’s a comfort; a tangible piece of myself I can fall back into at a moment’s notice. I can pick up a book and share a headspace with 15-year-old me. The security of it all is startling but necessary. I revisit my thoughts throughout time and form new ones alongside them. 

I am sucked out of time and into nothingness. I sit on the floor for hours. I say hello to my old friends and they ask me to stay a while. How could I refuse?

To be loved is to be changed

@tacticalcoquette on Twitter

Gillan Flynn’s Sharp Objects has changed me, just as I have changed it. It stands on my bookshelf, wilted, serrated, and most importantly, loved.

I’ve carried her throughout my years, troubled and soaked with anguish. I learned my melodrama from Flynn; it is how both I and Camille Preaker cut through the brutality of the world. 

The perfectionist in me doesn’t seem to mind the current state of Sharp Objects. I don’t blame myself for how I ruined my favorite novel. She is bruised, jagged, and flayed open. She is perfect. Beautiful. 

To be loved is to be changed.  
One day, I hope to be changed in similar ways. 

If you do continue to fight me, then I’ll take your soul. You got it?

Maka Albarn, Soul Eater

As a scythe, my job is to harvest souls. At eight years old, I found myself entrapped in the town of Death City, hunting corrupted souls for humanity’s survival. I rewatch Soul Eater at least twice a year. It finds itself in my mannerisms, my expressions, and even my writing. To call it my favorite show would be an understatement. 

To feel an intrinsic soul connection, unable to hide from fear or scrutiny. To have your skin stripped back and reveal the worst parts of yourself to others is raw. It hurts. It’s love. It’s Soul Eater.

I started collecting Soul Eater: The Perfect Edition when it was first released in 2020. It was my 18th birthday and I ordered the manga as a treat for surviving my first semester of undergrad. It lives on my desk, housing my favorite POP figures and keeping my current reads company. 

Every summer, sandwiched between the novels I’ve picked up at the local bookstore, lie the next edition of Soul Eater. It goes into the stack on my desk, sifted through a dozen times throughout the school year and a dozen more throughout the summer. 

A child weaned on poison considers harm a comfort

Camille Preaker, Sharp Objects

As I begin packing for the new semester, I leave it behind again. The temporary books are safe with my back-to-school supplies, smooshed between an old quilted blanket and fragile wall decorations. The shelf is just as a left it, suspended in time. 

I wonder what my bookshelf thinks of me, of what I’ve become. Does it like who I am? Does it care for me in the way that I care for it?  

I am proud of the collection I’ve cultivated. I can only hope it is proud of me.

K Slade (she/her) is a Black gothic and speculative fiction writer pursuing a BS in Digital Journalism and a Japanese minor at Appalachian State University. She currently serves as Visual Managing Editor for The Appalachian, her collegiate newspaper, and specializes in multimedia journalism. Horror media deeply inspired her love for the craft and in the future, K wants to write a script for a horror game. After undergrad, she hopes to move to New York and pursue an MFA in Creative Writing.


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