My books reflect my interests and fall roughly into categories, listed here in alphabetical order:
Art/Art History: My art books are mainly for inspiration or technical information or ideas for projects suitable for young people. Art History books are mainly textbooks that I cannot bear to get rid of; I have also saved most of my notes from Art Survey classes.
Autobiography/Biography: I am very selectively interested in biography.
Cookbooks: I like cookbooks that have stories to tell, rather than just a collection of recipes. Sundays at Moosewood Restaurant is my favorite, though I’ve rarely used it to actually cook a meal.
Decorating: I have a very small house (under 600 square feet) and a very large collection of books about small-space decorating.
Gardening: I page through these for inspiration as much as for information. The most recently acquired is usually my favorite.
History: I am certainly not interested in all history, but am fascinated with the history of Arctic exploration and many aspects of the Holocaust.
Literature: I read fiction, and I’m not always sure what is considered literature and what is not…though I can generally recognize, while reading, some that are definitely not. I usually use the library for fiction, though, as it’s rare that I’d want to re-read. One exception to that is Heidi, which I received for my tenth birthday. I credit that book with my love of books and reading, and I’ve read it at least a dozen times. Most of the literature that I have on my shelves are books of essays or short stories.
Poetry: Emily Dickinson, Marge Piercy, Jim Harrison, Mary Oliver and Billy Collins are my favorites.
Self-Help: I keep thinking that at this age I should be done, or at least consider myself as good as I’m ever going to be, but I’m always drawn to a self-help book. I have an embarrassingly large collection ranging from diet and exercise to Feng Shui. How to speak, how to listen, how to get along, how to interpret your dreams, how to figure out what you want out of life, how to get it…the list goes on and on. Whenever one of these books arrives in my mail, I get the wonderful, anticipatory, Christmas morning feeling that this will (when all other books have failed) change my life. Now, mind you, I don’t have a bad life. I really like my life! But I’m addicted, I think, to that feeling. The other negative here (and one reason they tend to pile up) is that these are not so easy to get rid of. I often go through my shelves and donate books to our little library. On this island, where we all know each other, I don’t want to arrive with a sackful of books that make me look like a struggling, insecure, overweight neurotic…no matter how accurate the description!
Writing: My all-time favorite book on writing is Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, but I also really enjoyed Steven King’s On Writing. I’m currently doing exercises from Natalie Goldberg’s Old Friend From Far Away on writing memoir, and What If by Anne Bernays and Pamela Painter. Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style has been most useful for editing and fine-tuning anything I’ve written.
I read every day: a bit in the morning with my first cup of coffee, while I’m eating lunch, and before I turn out the light at night. I usually have two or three books in progress at any given time, as well as a stack of clipped articles and a pile of magazines. I plan to use this page to keep track of books I’ve read, and maybe make recommendations or write reviews.
I remember Heidi very well too, happy memories. I recently spent the winter in the French Alps/ borders with Switzerland and I couldn’t help but think of Heidi up in her village in winter 🙂
Oh! That must have been wonderful! I’ve dreamed of the Alps (the wind through the pine trees!) since I read the book at age 10. What I have carried through my life from the book is, when I take a trip, wearing everything I might need that won’t fit in the suitcase. My sisters tease me about being like Heidi going up the mountain. Thanks for your comments!