I recently found this charming Etsy shop, perfect for any book lover: Jane Mount’s Ideal Bookshelf.
She’s an artist who sells prints, cards, and wrapping paper featuring Ideal Bookshelves – she picks a theme, say fantasy or cooking or kids, and selects titles she thinks would make up an ideal bookshelf for that theme, then draws it out in a delightful way with gorgeous colours. You can also buy the complete set in a lovely coffee table book.
(She also makes little pins of classic book covers, and needless to say, I would like them all. Just in case you’re looking for gift ideas for me.)
This shop has me thinking about my own ideal bookshelf. I’m an absolute sucker for buying books – our house is crowded with them, books piled on every flat surface, stuffed bookshelves in every room. I can’t help myself. For a while now, I’ve been building what I think is the ideal kids’ library for my own children – everything from Madeline to The Very Hungry Caterpillar to Clementine to The Hobbit to Percy Jackson and Harry Potter. Everything that I think is a touchstone, or an important cultural reference, or just plain old fun to read. I’m not sure what I’ll do with my masterpiece once the kids are grown, but I’m pretty happy with it right now.
What would be my ideal bookshelf as an adult? Maybe this one of Agatha Christie titles – I was a huge lover of mysteries as a kid, and once I worked my way through the entire Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys sets, I moved on to Agatha and read all her books as a young teen. Good times.
These days, this one of classics from 1942 to 1972 is closer to home.
But you can also have her make up your own ideal bookshelf, to your own custom specifications. My own favourites – books I wish I’d written, could only dream of having written – include The History of Love by Nicole Krauss, Come Thou Tortoise by Jessica Grant, and Bellweather Rhapsody by Kate Racculia. I’d have to add Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood, and perhaps The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut and One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Those who know me well won’t let me escape without mentioning The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, my ultimate guilty pleasure read.
And of course, I’d have to have a Nancy Drew or two on there – I’m re-reading them all right now with my youngest and they absolutely stand up. Nancy is completely and utterly awesome.
What would you put on your own Ideal Bookshelf?
everyone keeps putting come thou tortoise on their must read list. I need to get on that. I agree with oryx and crake (all three books). and maybe add alias grace and hadmade’s tail. yes for 100 yrs. absolutely love that book. I’d include famous last words, Tim Findley. fall on your knees, maybe. HP, obviously. mm, now I am going to spend my day thinking of what books to add…
Ooh, I loved Famous Last Words but my Tim Findley pick would be Not Wanted on the Voyage. It lives large in my memory. And somehow this triggered thoughts of Paddy Clarke Ha Ha Ha by Roddy Doyle – if you liked Famous Last Words I think it has a similar feel to it, and I loved it.
And yes! you must get on Come Thou Tortoise. Sometimes I think when people talk up a book too much, it can be a letdown when you actually get around to it. But I have faith in the tortoise that you’ll enjoy it anyway :).
Love this idea! For the artwork, I’d love to see my (not so virtual) shelf of Can Lit favourites I’ve collected over the years – from Douglas Coupland to Alice Munro to Margaret Atwood to WP Kinsella to Will Ferguson to Mordechai Richler to Lucy Maud Montgomery to Terry Fallis to…. clearly, I need to do this!!
Oh, a CanLit shelf would be BRILLIANT. I can’t believe I left out Douglas Coupland, who I adore. But which title would I pick? That decision could take all day!
I love this concept so much! But I really have no idea how I could possibly pick. Especially these days, with my memory as sharp as a worn down pencil 🙂