Project Bookshelf: Izzy Astuto

When I was eight, my family and I moved into the house we now live in, and I knew immediately which room would be mine. I moved from room to room listlessly during the initial tour, until we came upon the room with two closets. Opening the first one up, I was delighted to find it was not only a closet, but a floor to ceiling bookshelf! From then on, I determined to fill the shelves up completely.

This task was significantly easier than I expected it to be, and, with my book acquiring habits, the shelves quickly started overflowing. As pictures demonstrate, in my last years of high school, I was stacking books more than shelving them. Honestly, I didn’t end up minding this too much, as much of my reading taste had matured past many of the books on my shelves, so I preferred to have my leather-bound The Picture of Dorian Gray blocking my middle grade Adam Silvera’s and John Green’s.

I couldn’t get rid of any more books at that point, though. Believe it or not, the state of these shelves was after multiple book purges, trying to get rid of as much of my old taste as possible, to make space for all the shiny new covers I drooled over every Barnes and Noble trip. But some books I had far too deep an attachment to to ever get rid of. I still would probably cry if I ever re-read Wendy Mass’ The Candymakers.

The top shelf of the closet was always reserved for my more educational books. When I was younger, the least favorite of the classics my mom forced onto my reading list were also shoved up there, although now many have simply migrated into the mishmash on their own. I could never dream of hating Tuck Everlasting or Pygmalion. I always loved climbing on a chair to reach the precariously stacked tomes on a rainy day, picking out my favorite Childcraft encyclopedia and spending the afternoon reading About Animals or How Things Work.

I don’t live in that bedroom anymore when I am home. I had to beg my younger brother, its current resident, to even allow me to take the above pictures. Now, I don’t read much from that collection, only sneaking in sometimes to pull some old favorite to relentlessly pour over, or allow a friend to borrow. In my current room, I don’t have shelves, so books are once more piled throughout the space, haphazardly arranged by TBR and just read. My taste leans pretentious now, full of Murakami and Didion. I’m a liberal arts student stereotype, with my favorite author as Eve Babitz and a guilty understanding of the narrator from The Stranger‘s thought process.

I can’t help but wonder what my taste will be like in a year’s time, what this post would look like if I made it next summer instead. Maybe I’ll have some actual shelves by then. But probably not.

Izzy Astuto (he/they) is a writer currently majoring in Creative Writing at Emerson College. When not in Boston for college, they live in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. His work has previously been published by Hearth and CoffinSage Cigarettes, and Renesme Literary, amongst others. When not writing, he can often be found watching movies and crocheting.


Leave a Reply