Yay, Lane actually made some art, y’all! I took the idea from this really awesome art/essay book. In the introduction they mention one of the cool things about these shelves is that they are a moment in time: the ideal bookshelf you’d assemble for yourself today might not be the same as the one you’d assemble last year, or next week, or ten years from now. So I got curious as to what my current ideal bookshelf would be. Tragically, I wasn’t famous or important enough to be included in a book like this, so I just made my own. Complete with pretentious mini-personal essay!
I think the you can read a lot of personal history in books, in both their contents and their physical form. My bookshelves are arranged by color, so arrangement was an easy choice. I also really wanted the books to be my copies of said books. So yes, those tears you see in Battle Royale, and The Hobbit correspond to my copies because I’m somewhat rough on books I’ve read multiple times and/or have been handed down to me by my older siblings. My copy of Many Waters is a bit warped because I read it in the bathtub a lot. My third Sailor Moon book is extremely warped because I left it in my sister’s car, she threw it in the trunk, it rained and the trunk leaked, and then it got really cold and, I kid you not, the book froze into a solid block. I had to sit in the bathroom with a hairdryer for over an hour, painstakingly peeling the pages apart as they defrosted. But I did it, because the story resonated so strongly with me I couldn’t bear to just throw it away.
The two cookbooks taught me most of what I know about cooking and baking, and helped land me my job. The books on either end helped shape who I am today, though I didn’t realize it until much later. The only one of those books I don’t actually own at the moment is Kafka on the Shore. My sister’s boyfriend loaned it to me my freshman year of college, and it is a mark of how highly I hold him in regard that I actually returned it to him. Two other books on that shelf are ones that I borrowed and for one reason or another never got around to returning (sorry, Mike and Mrs. Boehler!)
A quick glance shows I gravitate towards fantasy (and a little sci-fi), without a lot of books set in the everyday world we live in. Even when I read books that are set in the real world, the characters intentionally don’t see it that way: Weetzie Bat reimagines 1980s LA as a punk fairy’s wonderland; Calvin flies to Mars or turns into a tiger with the help of a cardboard box; and characters in Watchmen pretend the world has a sense of justice and righteousness that they must fight to protect.
As I was painting it, I realized the shelf showed that I had at least slightly matured, since instead of the battered individual copies of the Chronicles of Narnia (seriously, they went through five kids before me), I have my personal, Barns and Noble Classics edition. (Though if I had included the individual ones, I would’ve arranged them in published order, just to be contrarian.) Likewise, instead of basically every Calvin and Hobbes book ever made in various states of distress, I have the gigantic, beautiful boxed set that was the only thing I asked for for college graduation—that’s the first, big block o’ books you see; the gold lettering didn’t turn up as well on camera as I’d hoped. I love how principled Bill Watterson is, and while I’d be too intimidated by said rigidly held principles to want him as my teacher in a classroom setting, I’ve referenced his work often and tried to maintain his level of artistic integrity whenever possible. The Lino Tagliapietra book serves as artist inspiration as well, for one obvious reason and one probably less obvious. The obvious reason is his work with glass color, patterns and form is nothing short of stunning, especially in person but even in pictures. I honestly think the only reason people think Dale Chihuly is a good glass artist is that they’ve never taken the time to look at Lino Tagliapietra’s work. The second reason is that the exhibit I bought the book from has some sketched plans for a piece that Lino drew, and even though he is an insanely talented glass artist, Lino doesn’t draw very well. I was insecure for a really long time about my non-artistic background, and the fact that drawing and painting don’t come easily to me (I’m so insanely proud of that spine of the Martian Chronicles you don’t even know.) Lots of people in art school would say they’ve been making things their whole lives, or drawing since they knew how to hold a pencil. Lino’s odd drawing and the beautiful glass vessel it turned into was one of the things that helped me get over that.