Right before Christmas My Ideal Bookshelf, edited by Thessaly La Force, came into my hands. The premise of the book is leading cultural figure were asked to constructed an ideal bookshelf that reflected their personalities and their reading interests. That gave me an idea: what if I had to give up my home library and was restricted to one bookshelf, what would I put on it?
If I restricted myself to twenty-five or so books plus my Nook, I could have a variety of fiction and non-fiction works to keep my brain happy for some time. But you see, the Nook complicates things. I must decide which books I want to hold in my hand versus which I am satisfied to have electronically. For example, Shelby Foote’s three volume history of the Civil War, is bulky to say the least in paper; but it would fit much on the Nook or a Kindle than a bookshelf where room is limited. On the other hand, I must have my Oxford English Dictionary–Compact Edition in print, even if it has two wide volumes in a box.
Those books listed below represent my choices at the moment. Next year, if I engage in this exercise again, some books may drop off the list and some books may be added on. The order the books are listed in does not signify their importance.
Although these books are from my personal collection, I have provided links to the ones in the Fontana catalog.
OED – Compact edition
Holy Bible – Oxford Study edition
William Faulkner, Absalom, Absalom (Fic)
John Keegan, The Second World War
Henry Adams, Mont San Michel and Chartres
Gary Wills, Lincoln at Gettysburg
William Manchester, The Glory and the Dream
Robert Caro, Master of the Senate
Carl Sandburg, Abraham Lincoln, the War Years
William Least Heat Moon, Blue Highways
Gary Wills, Nixon Agonistes
Edmund Wilson, To the Finland Station
Patrick O’Brian, Aubrey-Maturin series (Nook) (Fic)
Geraldine Brooks, March (Fic)
B. H. Liddell-Hart, Lawrence of Arabia
Shelby Foote, The Civil War (Nook)
Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass
Dag Hammorkjöld, Markings
Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (Fic)
Robert Louis Stevenson, Kidnapped (Fic)
Greil Marcus, Mystery Train
Edmund Wilson, Patriotic Gore
Robert Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motor Maintenance
Dorothy Sayers, Gaudy Night (Fic)
Woody Allen, Getting Even
Ulysses S. Grant, Personal Memoirs of U. S. Grant