Of Little Women and Dharma Bums: My Ideal Bookshelf and Current Reading List

I don’t read enough. I know this. I’ve always known this. But when I was a kid, I don’t think you could ever find me without a book on hand. I became an avid reader of Archie Comics, the Baby Sitter’s Club series, and the Sweet Valley Girls books. As I reached middle school age, a.k.a. the “I love Vampires” phase, I got hooked on Anne Rice’s Vampire Chronicles, but I also threw in some Seventeen Magazine for good measure. By high school, I wasn’t reading as much, but when I did I mostly read Spin Magazine, zines, and angsty teen stories a la Perks of Being a Wallflower. College became about text books, articles from at least 5 different major news sources, Bust Magazine, and comic books. But in recent times, my lust for reading has died down into only a mild desire. Maybe it’s too much internet. Maybe i’m just lazy. Anyway, as I was taking an Alice in Wonderlandesque trip down the Freshly Pressed rabbit hole in search of post inspiration, I landed on a post titled My Ideal Bookshelf.

Score! Something to write about!

What would I add to my ideal bookshelf? Let’s see…

First, we need some whimsy cause life is much too dull without it. For this, we’ll need some Shel Silverstein. I’d probably go with Where The Sidewalk Ends:

WHAT’S IN THE SACK?
by Shel Silverstein

What’s in the sack? What’s in the sack?
Is it some mushrooms or is it the moon?
Is it love letters or downy goosefeathers?
Or maybe the world’s most enormous balloon?
What’s in the sack? That’s all they ask me.
Could it be popcorn or marbles or books?
Is it two years’ worth of your dirty laundry,
Or the biggest ol’ meatball that’s ever been cooked?
Does anyone ask me, “Hey, when is your birthday?”
“Can you play Monopoly?” “Do you like beans?”
“What is the capital of Yugoslavia?”
Or “Who embroidered that rose on your jeans?”
No, what’s in the sack? That’s all they care about.
Is it a rock or a rolled-up giraffe?
Is it pickles or nickels or busted bicycles?
And if we guess it, will you give us half?
Do they ask where I’ve been, or how long I’ll be stayin’,
Where I’ll be goin’, or when I’ll be back,
Or “How do?” or “What’s new?” or “Hey, why are you blue?”
No, all they keep asking is, “What’s in the sack?”
“What’s in the sack?” I’m blowin’ my stack
At the next one who asks me, “What’s in the sack?”
What?
Oh no. Not you, too!

I mean, who didn’t love this man? (sidenote: That poem is so much different to read now as an adult! If you don’t know of his works beyond the kid’s books, please check out his Wikipedia page and get enlightened.)

In the same vein, we want to make sure kids are welcome to my shelf, so i’ll add some Roald Dahl as well. My 2nd grade teacher, Mrs. Hernandez told me I reminded her of Matilda, and it was that book that became my personal favorite. If Dahl sounds familiar, it’s because he’s also the writer behind such books-turned-movies as Charlie and the Chocolate FactoryThe Witches, and James and the Giant Peach.

Next, a bit of adventure and excitement! Alexander DumasThe Count of Monte Cristo would fulfill that. The Beats should also have a presence on the list. I still haven’t read Kerouac’s On The Road, so for now i’ll have to say Dharma Bums is my pick.

We definitely need some dystopian literature for good measure. George Orwell’s 1984 would take care of that.

I’d also want some fun lady comedy in there, so Helen Fielding’s Bridget Jones Diary makes the cut.

Short stories are a must for me. Something about finishing a story in an hour that’s extra satisfying, especially when it’s an incredible story. Cue Nine Stories by J.D. Salinger – yet another must.

I love reading stories by other female writers, and Little Women definitely fits the bill for that. I spent much of my early life wishing I were Jo March and wanting to strangle her about Laurie (however, now I totally get her thing for the Professor. I mean, c’mon. Meeting of the minds here!)

I’d definitely throw in Ghost World by Daniel Clowes in there because a. I need at least ONE comic book in there, 2. it’s a good comic, and 3. the movie is also equally awesome. So yeah.

I read Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl when I was in the 3rd grade. I remember my favorite librarian, Mrs. Edwards, calling me ambitious for choosing that book. It opened up my first curiosities about the Holocaust, World War II, and racism, and it also made me realize that my favorite thing to hear from someone is just their personal life story. Yeah, this definitely goes on the shelf.

Top of the World by Hans Ruesch was assigned to us for my Cultural Anthropology course. It’s said to realistically depict Inuit (Eskimo) life, bringing you their point of view, although Ruesch himself never met one personally. I got sucked in to this from the get go as there is a new observation about Inuit culture with every page turned. This is the book I recommend when people ask what they should read.

I’m sure there are plenty of other books i’d like to include, but this would make good for a small, intimate bookshelf.

As for my current Books to Read list? As most of my books at in Miami at the moment, the only things i’ve got on hand are V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and Post Office by Charles Bukowski which i’m half way finished with.

What’s on your shelf?

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One thought on “Of Little Women and Dharma Bums: My Ideal Bookshelf and Current Reading List

  1. Shel Silverstein and Roald Dahl! Cue the awesome childhood flashbacks. Lol. My favorite poem by Shel Silverstein was Me-Hoo and the ExactlyWhat. I could quote that forever, or at least until I annoyed enough people who scream SHUT UP!!! 🙂 As for Roald Dahl, I’d have to say the BFG was his most memorable book to me.

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