My bookcases are the most important part of my home. Whether they are in the living room, study or bedroom, depending on how cramped an apartment I happen to be living in, the room automatically becomes the place that I hover around and feel most comfortable in. When I move, I head straight for the boxes of books and begin contemplating the order they should be placed in before I bother looking for the bed linen or saucepans. I associate many of my books with people I care about, and smile when I come across some of the obscure books I have been given by friends. I think about my late grandmother when I discover books she leant me years ago. Books can be more personal than photographs and other sentimental objects, because they often come from someone who wants to share the joy they felt when they read the book.
The shelf that I have chosen to write about is from my new bookcase. My other bookcases reached capacity and it was becoming impossible to take out a book to read without dislodging ten others. I splurged and ordered a quality bookcase. It was worth the expense – one of my home-built bookcases leans forward rather dangerously – and was filled quickly. I have put my newest (and by this I mean newly purchased, not published), most tempting reads on its shelves.
These are the books that I acquired in the last year, some during my overseas travels where I managed to buy so many books I had to buy an extra suitcase and post books home to Australia. You will see some Australian authors (Geraldine Brooks, Christos Tsiolkas, Cate Kennedy, Fiona McGregor and Steven Amsterdam) and many other nationalities. I was lucky enough to hear some of the authors speak and have my books signed, both in Australia and on my travels. I went to Ann Patchett’s talk at the staggering Powell’s Books in Oregon, a book lover’s place of worship, and found her to be inspiring and quite hilarious. Etgar Keret’s book is ready to be read in anticipation of his talk in Melbourne in March.
There are books specifically about travel, and some about authors in specific eras, such as the Lost Generation of American Authors in Paris. There are the books I purchased at the Little Sister’s Book & Art Emporium in Vancouver, where I was excited to find independent Canadian books by gay authors. There is Joan Didion’s latest book, Blue Nights, which was published just before I came home from my trip. You will see all four by Canadian author, Camilla Gibb; her settings and characters are always unique, and I marvel at the worlds she creates. Finally, there is Garth Stein’s, The Art of Racing in the Rain, bought at the San Francisco Airport, when I found myself rooted to the floor of a generic airport shop. I had picked up the book out of curiosity, was put off when I saw it was told by a dog’s perspective, but then continued reading when the book hit me powerfully and painfully. It expertly captures the grief and despair of losing an elderly dog.
This is my most loved shelf at the moment, if only due to the fact that each book has been carefully chosen and I have genuine excitement to read, or reread, each book. It is this shelf that I eye when I get ready to go out, already longing for the moment when I sit down and prepare to start the next one.
Roz Bellamy is a writer from Australia. She's written a variety of short stories and poetry for several anthologies and literary journals. She is currently working on a travelogue about her five and a half month trip, as well as her first novel. http://bellarozz.blogspot.com.au/.