Like Haley, I’ve been doing a little poking around and updating (including my About page, in which my then-unborn son makes nary an appearance). And like Haley, I decided to try and compose a “me-in-books” stack. One of my favorite ways to talk about books is as friends: some we live with closely, some stay close to us although we only encounter them every few years or so, and with some we simply share a short but rich acquaintance. The books in this shot are some of those I’d have a hard time understanding myself without.
But alas, some other of my literary best friends are still packed away in a storage space in Minnesota. (My husband’s advice to me, when we were originally packing for the move: only bring books you KNOW you will want to read in the next two years. We’ll bring the rest later. And here we are, almost four years in, and I feel a little hollow knowing that my house has exactly zero novels by Dostoevsky on its shelves.)
Looking at the photo, I realized it was thin on fiction: any account of my life in books is incomplete without The Brothers Karamazov, Black Lamb and Grey Falcon, Angle of Repose, and Jayber Crow. I loaned my copy of Kristin Lavransdatter to a friend, and need to just buy another copy for myself: it feels a little like I’ve loaned out the literary equivalent of my son’s beloved elephant, Saggy Baggy. And after taking the photo I realized I had accidentally left both What Are People For? and the collected poems of Denise Levertov on my living room shelf. Oh well.
In a perfect world, all seven volumes of Harry Potter are represented. The Great Divorce and Hamlet and some old books of feminist theory from college jostle for space. And, crucially, the whole Lord Peter Wimsey series and a bunch of John LeCarre, because I dearly love good spy and mystery novels. But then I’d need a bigger cutting table to capture it all.
You’ve mentioned some of my favorites! I reread the Lord Peter Wimsey series every few years – and reread Gaudy Night while visiting Oxford this past May! It was great – like having Dorothy Sayers show me around the city! I really appreciate Aslan’s Library – I read but don’t comment nearly enough, so I’m working on that!
How fun: Gaudy Night IN Oxford! I might just have to try that sometime. I think that’s my favorite Lord Peter story (it’s probably everyone’s favorite, right?), along with Strong Poison.
It was great!
Gaudy Night is my favorite Lord Peter book, too. I also like the two subsequent books that were tweaked by Jill Paton Walsh and published after Dorothy Sayers died. They were set during WWII, after Lord Peter and Harriet have children. Has anyone read them?
This idea of thinking through “Me in books” is great. It makes me want to do it myself and to ask some of my dear friends to do it, too. Thanks, Haley and Sarah!
Oh, and hello to Saggy Baggy.
I’ve read the new Lord Peter /Harriet books by Jill Paton Walsh, too, and really enjoyed them! And you know just this year she released a new Lord Peter/ Harriet novel called The Late Scholar which also takes place in Oxford. I thought it was great. They felt really seamless to me. I was afraid because I love the LPW series and was worried the new books wouldn’t hold up, but I think Jill Paton Walsh has really done a great job at keeping the flavor of the original books. And, definitely, Gaudy Night is my favorite.