My Ideal Bookshelf

In My Ideal Bookshelf, Thessaly La Force asks a variety of authors and other celebrities: If you had to fill a small shelf with the books that represent you, which titles would you choose? Their essays are accompanied by Jane Mount's charmingly colorful drawings of each participant's shelf.

La Force selected a diverse group of participants. In addition to popular authors such as Stephanie Meyer, Malcolm Gladwell and James Patterson, she solicited responses from skateboarder Tony Hawk, French Laundry chef Thomas Keller and New Yorker music critic Sasha Frere-Jones. The contents of each ideal bookshelf vary accordingly: James Franco divulges his love of Faulkner's As I Lay Dying for the insight into character it provided him as a teenager; Rosanne Cash reminisces about realizing her passion for social justice through reading Anne Frank at the same age.

There is no shortage of classics among people's picks, but the beauty of the cumulative library lies in the less expected titles. Readers are as likely to find Art Spiegelman's graphic novel Maus adorning a shelf as they are to find The Tempest, or to run across travel guides, historical accounts, Dr. Seuss, memoirs or cookbooks. Providing reading suggestions from and for every walk of life, My Ideal Bookshelf is a perfect gift for avid and reluctant readers alike--a celebration of the depth and breadth of the written word's shaping of our lives that will guide readers to new favorites while simultaneously causing them to think about their own ideal bookshelves. --Jaclyn Fulwood, youth services manager at Latah County Library District and blogger at Infinite Reads

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