One of my favorite parts of the upcoming gift-giving season is the wonderful selection of special books that are published this time of the year. You know the kinds of books I mean. These are the beautiful books. Not as successful on e-readers, these books demand to have their real pages turned. They are the books that people feel kind of funny about buying for themselves. The books that might take up a lot of room (art books), but sometimes you feel you can’t live without them. These are the books I turn to on “sick days” or “blue days” or days when I find some extra time and can take a break from required reading.
This is one of my favorites this year: My Ideal Bookshelf by Jane Mount
An admission first: I bought this one for myself! I couldn’t help it. One of my absolute favorite things to do in the whole world is to look at people’s bookshelves. This voyeuristic activity, as fellow readers know, is becoming more challenging in our digital world. Beginning as a teenage babysitter and through my entire adult life, I look for opportunities to check out people’s books. Sometimes this requires making up a trip to the bathroom or into the kitchen for a drink of water. The “most famous” bookshelf I was able to peruse was Vice President and Mrs. Gore’s when they were living in the Naval Observatory. As you might expect, there were lots of books about the environment.
Jane Mount asked 100 well-known people to compile a list of books that have shaped their lives and then painted images of their bookshelf. This is a great way to both peek at people’s shelves and get a few reading ideas of your own. Some of the participants are: Alice Waters, Nancy Pearl, Dave Eggers, and Malcolm Gladwell. The cover is so beautiful that it’s a book you’ll want to leave on the coffee table.
If you have any voracious or curious readers on your holiday shopping list, check out My Ideal Bookshelf.