I was so excited to be tagged for this meme by Sherry at NiteSwimming. I have totally enjoyed reading other people’s posts with this meme — they have all been so interesting. So, without further ado, here is my Bookshelf Meme.
Tell me about the book that has been on your shelves the longest:
It is probably my copy of The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Williams. I got this as a child for Christmas 1971. I would have been about 4 years old. There is an inscription inside the front cover that says “Dear Jennifer: A wise horse in this story tells the secret of becoming real. It seems to me that you are well on your way to learning his secret. Thank you for sharing your realness with me. Much love, Denise.”
I have no idea who this Denise is or what role she played in my life, but I have always kept this book with me and revisit it every so often. I’m chomping at the bit to share this book with my son, but I think I’ll wait until he is a bit older. The book itself is in pretty good shape — although the pages are a bit yellowed. And did you know the title reads The Velveteen Rabbit or How Toys Become Real. I never knew this until looking at the title page just now.
Tell me about a book that reminds you of something specific in your life (i.e., a person, a place, a time, etc.):
My copy of Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style was given to me by my father when I headed off to college in 1985. I was going to Journalism School, and my dad gave me this book and inscribed it “To Jen: Rule #1. Be concise. Dad” And damned if he wasn’t right. And damned if I still haven’t learned that lesson to this day. (I think I’m a very wordy writer.) So this book always reminds me of my dad and leaving home for the first time with my dreams of being a big-time journalist. Twenty-some years later, I’m still trying to follow Rule #1, and I still think this book is one of the best books on writing you can find.
Tell me about a book you acquired in some interesting way (gift, serendipity in a used book store, prize, etc.):
In college when things were sometimes difficult, I used to read a poster that I had found somewhere called “Desiderata.” It had all these wonderful things to say about life. It starts: “Go placidly amid the noise & the haste & remember what peace there may be in silence.” I always read this poster when I needed to remind myself about what was important in life. Eventually, the poster got very ripped up and fell apart. As I was moving out of the house I had been living in (the house was going to be condemned — it was college after all), I found a copy of Desiderata in a little book. I took it with me when I left and have it still. I always felt it was a bit of “someone from above” looking out for me and giving me a less destructible form of this philosophical statement.
Tell me about the most recent addition to your shelves:
The most recent addition to my bookshelves is my LibraryThing Early Reviewer copy of The Disappearance by Efrem Sigel. This particular addition was extra exciting for me as it is my first “Advance Uncorrected Galley.” I’d never got a book like this before so I was really thrilled. I’ve already started it, and I’m hooked. The book is about a married couple (Joshua and Nathalie) whose 14-year-old son disappears one afternoon. The book is about the couple’s reactions and investigation into what happened to their son. I’m really liking this book so far (even though it is my worst nightmare), and I can’t wait to see where it is going to go. I believe the book will be going on sale in February 2009. (I mentioned all this in my most recent Mailbox Monday post.)
Tell me about a book that has been with you to the most places:
This is a hard question to answer as I rarely travel with the same book twice. And I guess it might be The Velveteen Rabbit again as I’ve pretty much had it in my possession wherever I’ve lived since I got it in 1971.
Tell me about a bonus book that doesn’t fit any of the above questions:
In college, I took a class called “African-American Poetry.” It was a fantastic class, and the highlight was having Rita Dove come in to read her poems to the class. Her book of poems, Thomas and Beulah, won the 1987 Pulitzer Price for Poetry. It was a thrill to hear a real live poet read their poems out loud to us. I’d never heard a poetry reading before. After the class, Ms. Dove was available to sign our copies of her book (another first for me). I had her sign my favorite poem in the book, “Daystar.” I’d like to share it with you here because I think it so lovely, and I often think of it (especially after becoming a mother).
She wanted a little room for thinking:
but she saw diapers steaming on the line,
a doll slumped behind the door.
So she lugged a chair behind the garage
to sit out the children’s naps.
Sometimes there were things to watch –
the pinched armor of a vanished cricket,
a floating maple leaf. Other days
she stared until she was assured
when she closed her eyes
she’d see only her own vivid blood.
She had an hour, at best, before Liza appeared
pouting from the top of the stairs.
And just what was mother doing
out back with the field mice? Why,
building a palace. Later
that night, when Thomas rolled over and
lurched into her, she would open her eyes
and think of the place that was hers
for an hour — where
she was nothing,
pure nothing, in the middle of the day.
- 1. Tag 3-5 people, so the fun keeps going!
- Leave a comment at the original post at A Striped Armchair so that Eva can collect everyone’s answers.
- If you leave a comment and link back to Eva as the meme’s creator, she will enter you in a book giveaway contest! She has a whole shelf devoted to giveaway books that you’ll be able to choose from, or a bookmooch point if you prefer.
- Remember that this is all about enjoying books as physical objects, so feel free to describe the exact book you’re talking about, down to that warping from being dropped in the bath water…
- Make the meme more fun with visuals! Covers of the specific edition you’re talking about, photos of your bookshelves, etc.
I am going to reach out of the book blog world a little bit because I think most of the book blogs I read have been tagged with this meme already. I am going to tag a few bloggers that I know like to read, and I hope they find this meme as interesting as I have. So you are it Diane, Motherhood for the Weak, LegalMist Heather, and Kel. Hope you have fun with it, but if you have no interest or time for this, I understand!