shop your bookshelf: books to be read

If you’re anything like me, you collect books the way magpies collect shinies – almost indiscriminately. Library booksales? I leave with a stack in the double digits. The local bookstore with the lovely large poetry section? Sign me up. Secondhand classics discarded in university hallways at the end of the semester? Oh, baby.

In a not-altogether-unexpected turn of events, I’ve wound up with more than a couple of un-read books on my bookshelves. During this period of being homebound with extra time to sink into worlds other than this one, when the itch to buy a new book every day is loud and obnoxious and very persuasive (I never discipline that itch; it’s my own fault, entirely), it seemed appropriate to shop my own collection.

When was the last time I had the opportunity to touch every book I own? To feel their covers, their weight? To brush their pages with my fingertips? To appreciate the sticky notes left from essay-writing and the marginalia that resulted from a keen desire, both mine and others’, to leave evidence of just how beloved these words are?

There is an intimacy in holding a book that holds a part of you. An intimacy in re-encountering the version of you who read each page last, who nudges you and whispers, “We loved this, we loved this, we loved this.” — Who reminds you, “You could think of nothing else for weeks.” — Who murmurs, “We sank so deeply into this one we nearly forgot to breathe.”

As I made my way through my shelves, I created a to-be-read list from my un-read books; but I also found I had to create a to-be-re-read list with the books that I picked up and suddenly ached, longed, craved to revisit. I’ll share that list, too, at some point. But, for now, I’ve created a full list of my to-be-read books. I’ve sorted them into “The Old Stuff, or the ‘Classics,'” “Poetry,” “Fantasy,” “This Is Fiction And I Don’t Really Know What It’s About But I’m Excited to Find Out,” and “Non-Fiction.”

shop your bookshelf: the old stuff, or the “classics”

  1. Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
  2. The Tenant of Wildfell Hall by Anne Bronte
  3. Tess of the D’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy
  4. Boswell’s London Journal, 1762-1763
  5. The Witlings by Frances Burney
  6. The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
  7. Ulysses by James Joyce
  8. Le Morte D’Arthur
  9. Pamela by Samuel Richardson
  10. Clarissa by Samuel Richardson
  11. Millenium Hall by Sarah Scott
  12. The Mayor of Casterbridge by Thomas Hardy
  13. Flush: A Biography by Virgina Woolf
  14. Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
  15. Walden by Henry David Thoreau
  16. Hamlet by Shakespeare
  17. Macbeth by Shakespeare

shop your bookshelf: the poetry

  1. So Bright and Delicate by John Keats
  2. Selected Poems by HD

shop your bookshelf: the fantasy

  1. Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik
  2. The Slow Regard of Silent Things by Patrick Rothfuss
  3. Blood of Elves by Andrzej Sapkowski
  4. The Grand Crusade by Michael A. Stackpole
  5. The Bear and the Nightingale by Katherine Arden
  6. Unwrapped Sky by Rjurik Davidson
  7. The Magicians by Lev Grossman
  8. The Starless Sea by Erin Morgenstern
  9. Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James

shop your bookshelf: the “this is fiction and i don’t really know what it’s about but i’m excited to find out”

  1. The Lost Summer of Louisa May Alcott by Kelly O’Connor McNees
  2. The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
  3. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt
  4. Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple
  5. Before I Go To Sleep by S.J. Watson
  6. The Next Best Thing by Jennifer Weiner
  7. The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon
  8. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  9. Madame Solario by Gladys Huntington
  10. Lampedusa by Steven Price
  11. The House Girl by Tara Conklin
  12. What Strange Creatures by Emily Arsenault
  13. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
  14. The Orenda by Joseph Boyden
  15. Summertime by J.M. Coetzee
  16. Exit West by Mohsin Hamid
  17. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
  18. A Jest of God by Margaret Laurence
  19. Disappearing Moon Cafe by Sky Lee
  20. Imprimatur by Monaldi and Sorti
  21. Big little Lies by Liane Moriarty
  22. The Geometry of Sisters by Luanne Rice
  23. Possession by A.S. Byatt
  24. The Weight of Ink by Rachel Kadish
  25. The Outline trilogy by Rachel Cusk
  26. The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova

shop your bookshelf: the non-fiction

  1. Jane & Dorothy by Marian Veevers
  2. Atomic Habits by James Clear
  3. Ego is the Enemy by Ryan Holiday
  4. Post Grad by Caroline Kitchener
  5. The Complete Walker by Colin Fletcher

I’m thinking about trying to write little reviews for each of my 2020 reads on my goodreads, so you’ll see some of these titles pop up on there, too, if you’re curious about my progress on this not-so-little list.

As we slowly, achingly make our way into the dregs of March, take the time to spend time with your books. Move them around. Shift them so that your evening light falls just so on the spines of your favourites. Place them all backwards. Put them back if you hate it. Colour coordinate them to match every room’s decor. Stack the ones with characters you aspire to emulate on your desk so you can see them every time you sit down to work, fresh cup of coffee in hand (the Protector of the Small series, anyone?). Delve into new worlds, or sink into the worn-in spines of old friends.

Wishing you windy evenings spent in comfortable silence, endless hot cups of tea to warm March-chilled fingertips, and the satisfying sound of flipping pages.


5 thoughts on “shop your bookshelf: books to be read

  1. I really like this idea. My shelves aren’t so overloaded since I’ve moved back and forth between 3 different provinces in the last year so I’ve had to downsize quite a bit but I still have many books I have yet to read. The one that stuck out from your list – The Book Thief, I finally read this last year after having it on my list for 10 years and it was really good and also weird.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: