My Ideal Bookshelf
Art by Jane Mount; edited by Thessaly La Force
Little, Brown and Company, 2012. 226 pgs. Nonfiction
Mount and LaForce's book is simple in concept and great fun in its realization. They approached over 100 creative people--writers, designers, musicians, cartoonists, dancers, graphic artists, and chefs (interesting) to share a shelf of books that "represent you . . . your favorite favorites." The results are sometimes predictable but mostly fascinating and sometimes funky. Alex Ross, music critic for The New Yorker, chose the score of Mahler's Ninth Symphony as one of his favorites; Stephenie Meyer's picked Little Women, Jane Eyre, and several other counterintuitive-to-vampires titles; more participants than you can possibly imagine chose Anton Chekhov's short stories, and, in fact, Francine Prose's entire bookshelf is Chekhov, bookended by characters from Where the Wild Things Are. Even the Hardy Boys and volumes from Childcraft find place here, as do a sparkling sufficiency of titles we can add to our own To Read and To Reread lists. Almost all the respondents are from the West or East coasts, but the unwashed masses of the rest of the country may participate as well because the book's creators have also included a "My Ideal Bookshelf" template which you can copy, color in your own favorite spines-o-books, and send scans or photos to idealbookshelf.com. Some fun!