|Slice of Life Challenge is hosted by TWO WRITING TEACHERS|
I live surrounded by books. Shelves packed with books, stacks of books, precarious piles teetering on the edges of tables and countertops, spilling out the tops of bags, neatly arranged on the coffee table.
In fact, when I sit on this couch to write my slices I am a reading peninsula—surrounded on three sides by books.
One day, I think to myself each time I sit here, one day I will reread each of these books. I will reconnect with the version of my self—the self who read those stories the first time around. Somehow just looking at the books I’ve read and loved is a reminder of the self I left entangled in the stories—held fast between the ink on those pages.
I look at the spine of Barren Ground by Ellen Glasgow—containing the impact Dorinda’s powerful character had on me as a young woman: independent, strong., wise—everything I wanted my self to grow to become.
Educating Esmé by Esmé Raji Codell perches on the edge of the shelf just above—a reminder of my ridiculously optimistic new teacher self.
A cute little picture book version of Sarah Kay’s poem “Point B” holds its own amongst the larger titles—secreting away the hopes of motherhood my self keeps tucked out of reach.
Alfie Kohn’s The Schools Our Children Deserve boldly asserts itself—holding strong views of the way things should be that my self has learned to mediate.
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers lies beneath an entire pile of powerful stories—hiding a depth of sadness no other story had revealed to my self before that first reading.
Looking at these spines, I am reminded of a book I encountered during a recent trip to the bookstore: My Ideal Bookshelf art by Jane Mount, edited by Thessaly La Force.
The concept is that famous people (like Tony Hawk and James Patterson) were given the assignment to create their ideal bookshelves. The list of books is then turned in to a whimsical piece of artwork: a painting of the spines as if the books are indeed on a shelf.
The introduction contains an explanation of the assignment. Here is a taste of the wonder and muse that is this book:
“Select a small shelf of books that represent you—the books that have changed your life, that have made you who you are today, your favorite favorites. You begin, perhaps, by walking over to your bookshelf and skimming the spines on the top shelf. You pull down a handful that you remember loving; you grab a couple that you read over and over again. Some you know just by the color of their dust jackets. One is in tatters—it was passed down by your mother—and it’s dog-eared and carefully held together by tape and tenderness. The closer you look the trickier the task turns out to be.”
It is a delicious assignment, don’t you think? What are the books that have made my self who I am today? What are the books that best represent my self? Are those truly the books with which I am surrounded? What if I had to narrow it down? What YA titles would I include? What classics? Which of the books my mother gave me? Picture books?
I think this is what item #5 on my manifesto meant by: writing begets writing. Looks like I have a head start on a future slice!