Dinner Party

We have lots of bookcases in our house, and they all have their own purpose. The bookcase in the basement, for example, holds the baby books my kids enjoyed looking at when they were toddlers. (They’ve been chewed and drooled on and I still can’t bear to part with them.) In my office, I keep reference books, books on writing, and a few copies of my own novel, one of which is in German. (I can’t read German but I like just to look at it sometimes.) Upstairs, are three bookcases — two for the kids, packed to overflowing, and one that I can remember standing in my great-uncle’s hallway. That one is filled with a motley collection — leather-bound books I inherited from him and will never read, travel guides, novels and textbooks from classes I took. Dignified books all.

But it’s the bookcase in the living room that holds the stories closest to my heart.  This is where I keep my favorites, the books I turn to again and again, the ones I buy extra copies of just in case.  Some are high-brow, others popular, but I love them all. Divided into fiction and non, alphabetized, it’s one area of the house that’s always in order. (No comments on the rest of my housekeeping, please.)

Today there was a book in there that didn’t belong, stuck in by a small child who was using said book as a convenient hiding place for small treasures. It made me laugh, and then it made me think about all the authors forced to share space on my shelves, and how they would react if seated together at a dinner party.  Amy Bloom is next to Jane Austen — the sharply observed witticisms that must pass between them! Nora Ephron — whom I imagine being able to converse with anyone — is paired with William Faulkner, which could be interesting, but I cannot see Marguerite Duras and Alan Duff together at all. (Although an animal heat runs beneath both of their books, so perhaps I am wrong.)

Who shares space on your shelves? Do they cohabit well, or are there some odd pairings?

From poetry to pop-up books and everything in between.

From poetry to pop-up books and everything in between.

Liz Michalski


  1. Jan O'Hara (Tartitude) on February 5, 2013 at 6:43 pm

    Okay, this is weird. 1. I have a post coming together on odd pairings. 2. My FB status of a few minutes ago was about my daughter giving away her YA books, and my mixed feelings about it. Perhaps the theme for today is a lack of homogeneity?

    My bookshelf is odd. As a small example, I have a Chelsea Cain next to a Billy Collins. 🙂

    • liz on February 5, 2013 at 7:43 pm

      Billy has his own special row, segregated with the other poets, Jan. He’s hanging with ee cummings. Looking forward to your blog post!

  2. Vaughn Roycroft on February 6, 2013 at 11:43 am

    My favorite fiction is on the shelf in my office, and Evenfall has an honored place there. Our Living Room shelves are mostly filled by the coffee table variety, with some hardcover fiction thrown in for good measure. I almost never touch them. The one in my office is frequentlly revisited. The dinner party sounds fun. You’d be at mine, I guess, so that’s awesome. I’d gladly seat you next to Tolkien if you’d like. Maybe I could serve Second Breakfast. 😉

    • liz on February 6, 2013 at 9:26 pm

      Thanks so much for putting Evenfall on your shelf, Vaughn. Tolkien would be a dream, and I’m always up for Second Breakfast. (And lunch, and tea …)

  3. Rick Wilcox on February 6, 2013 at 4:37 pm

    Some of the stuff I read is so diametrically opposed, I keep the books faced in opposite directions, lest a war of words ensue. My office is madness but it’s my madness.

    • liz on February 6, 2013 at 9:25 pm

      Rick, based on our conversations, your shelving system makes perfect sense! : ) Nice to have such a broad-minded friend.

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