Project Bookshelf: Heather Domenicis

A picture of a 5-shelf brown wooden bookcase filled with colorful books, a vintage photograph, a white bust of Adonis, and a tan vessel with eucalyptus and lavender. A brown acoustic guitar leans against the right side of the bookcase and there is a monstera plant to the left of the bookcase.

I have a book problem. Which isn’t a bad problem to have, except for when it comes to dusting, moving, and traveling. I’m 26 and I’ve moved eight times in my life—four times since graduating college. The majority of my boxes are usually books and I always sneeze while I pack them, my body shocked by the amount of dust the paper holds. Often, whenever I visit my family, a relative will say, “I just love my Kindle, it’s so much easier,” as I pull out the 3-5 books I brought for my week-long stay. I won’t read them all on that trip, but I’ll read a little bit of most of them. 

I hate reading one book at a time; I simply cannot do it. Thus, I buy books faster than I consume them. After moving into my first apartment, I quickly outgrew the childhood bookcase I’d brought from home and treated myself to a too-big-for-my-NYC-bedroom bookcase that gave  me room to grow. When I moved in with my partner this year, I gave my childhood bookcase to his eight-year-old daughter, hoping she might begin filling it herself. I pondered if my partner and I might combine our bookcases, but quickly decided to keep mine my own. It’s rather organized, and to combine them would undo that. 

The top shelf is filled with craft books, books I’ve recently read or have yet to finish, some eucalyptus and lavender, a photo of my grandmother from the 1930s, and a bust of Adonis, the Greek god of plants and rebirth. I wish I could say there was some significance behind the bust, but there isn’t. I bought it when a furniture retailer sent me a $75 gift card as an apology for my couch taking three months to arrive. The bust was the only thing I could afford with the gift card. We’ll be saying goodbye to him soon, though, as I’m beginning to outgrow this bookshelf, too. 

The second shelf—which is intentionally at my eye level—holds mostly memoirs, bolstered and bookended by some of my inspirational favorites that I often reference: Long Live the Tribe of Fatherless Girls by T Kira Madden, Stray by Stephanie Danler, Somebody’s Daughter by Ashley C. Ford, and This Boy’s Life by Tobias Wolff. You know, all the quintessential coming-of-age memoirs about emotionally absent parents. 

The next shelf holds fiction—mostly short story collections—with my favorites again acting as bookends: Heartbroke by Chelsea Bieker, Stories From the Tenants Downstairs by Sidik Fofana, The Bed Moved by Rebecca Schiff, and The Kissing List by Stephanie Reents (my very first writing mentor.) Also on this shelf is a bowl of tiny plastic babies I used to collect and some small boxes that hold change, pins I used to wear on my Levi denim jacket, and guitar picks. 

Then come novels and poetry, with some favorites being Godshot by Chelsea Bieker, Welfare by Steve Anwyll, Teenager by Bud Smith, and Suicide Blonde by Darcey Steinke. Towards the bottom are some self-help books, random non-fiction works, my old spine-broken Penguin Classics from college, copies of my college senior thesis and my college literary magazine, and some coffee table books. A few of my partner’s books have snuck onto the bottom shelf, too. 

Somewhere in a closet in my parents’ new Southern retirement home there’s another stack of books from my childhood—ones I’ve purposely held onto so I can pass them on to my own future kids someday. 

Then, of course, on my bedside table are stacks of whatever I’m currently reading. Right now it’s Pure Cosmos Club by Matthew Binder and Excavation by Wendy C. Ortiz. If I’m sleeping alone, I’ll often sleep with my current read in bed next to me. Is that weird? I think it’s weird, but that’s okay. 

And there’s always a book in my tote bag that hangs by the front door—I do my best reading on the subway. 

Heather Domenicis (she/her) is an Upper Manhattan based writer and editor moonlighting at a tech startup. She holds an MFA from The New School in Creative Non-Fiction and her words appear in Hobart, JAKE, and [sub]liminal. Born in a jail, she is writing a memoir about all that comes with that. She sometimes tweets @heatherlynnd11.


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