I have always believed that a reader’s bookshelf is an extension of who they are. If eyes are the windows to the soul, then a reader’s collection of books reflects their innermost feelings, interests, and aspirations. Each book I have read throughout my life has had an impact on me in some way; whether I loved the novel or hated it, they have all shaped me into the reader and person I am today.
When I was born, my mother bought me a dresser with two shelves attached to it. While limited, these shelves held some of the most influential books I read as a child, novels that sparked my love for reading. Goodnight Moon was the first book my mother bought for me as a baby, and I still own the slightly damaged book today because of how much I loved it. I would ask my mom to read it to me every night before bed, never growing bored with the story despite knowing exactly how it would end.
In elementary school, my board books were replaced with middle-grade chapter books. More than half of one shelf was dedicated to the Magic Treehouse books, the first series I read and loved as a child. The remainder of my shelves were filled with A Series of Unfortunate Events, 39 Clues, and Percy Jackson. Elementary school is when I became an avid reader; I would carry a book with me wherever I went, and I would spend hours reading each day. Unsurprisingly, I read each book on my shelves numerous times, until, eventually, my dad bought me three more shelves so I could expand my book collection. He took me to my small town’s indie bookstore every Saturday to buy a new book, and by the next time I went the following week, I had already finished it.
Then, when I was fourteen, my parents and I redid my childhood bedroom for my birthday. With the renovation came my beloved floor-to-ceiling bookshelves. The baby dresser and elementary shelves were replaced with four bookcases that span the entire wall; my own personal library right in my bedroom. I spent hours organizing my books when they were installed, deciding to group them by genre and sort them by which spines looked best together. Today, I still organize my books this way, though I am less methodical with the process. By the end of high school, my bookshelves were almost completely filled with YA fantasy and contemporary books, the two genres I loved the most during my teenage years.
Now, going into my fourth year of college, my bookshelves are filled to the brim and organized in a pattern that resembles Tetris more than anything. I have shifted gears from YA to adult, and my favorite genre is literary fiction (though I still go back to my roots and read the occasional fantasy). In addition to my fiction books, I have a couple nonfiction books about specific interests or people that I like, textbooks from my college literature classes, and poetry collections that I find beautiful. Some of the most special books in my collection, though, are The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (my favorite book, the first I ever cried to while reading), the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan (the only series from my early childhood that I still keep on my shelves, three of which are signed), Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell (the first personalized, signed book I got and the first book I truly saw myself in), and The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick (given to me by my grandmother).
However, all of my books, read or unread, hold a special place in my heart. Each book I have read, bought, or received is significant to me because I will always remember the person I was when I put it on my shelves.
Victoria Carrubba is a senior English Publishing Studies student at Hofstra University. She is currently a tutor at her university’s writing center and a copyeditor for The Hofstra Chronicle. She has also worked on her university’s literary magazines, Font and Growl, and was previously a fiction editor for Windmill Journal. Outside of work, she can be found reading, dancing, or drinking chai.