Project: Bookshelf Kickoff

Welcome to PROJECT: BOOKSHELF, a continuing series in which Mackenzi Lee tries to read every book on her bookshelf in the course of a summer while friends, writers, and readers drop in to tell us about their respective shelves. This week, I’ll be kicking off the series with a look at my bookshelf and how far it’s come since I first moved to Boston.

But first, let’s take a look at my reading wrap-up.

Reading Wrap Up: 

This week, from my collection of unread books on my shelf, I read…

Flora and Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo

  • Genre: Middle grade, partially illustrated
  • Where I got it from: Purchased the day it won the Newbery
  • What I thought: This was a Newbery well deserved! I am totally in love with everything about this book, especially squirrel poetry. Highly recommended.

Will in Scarlet by Matthew Cody

  • Genre: Middle Grade historical fiction
  • Where I got it from: Gifted by Simmons College in our end of the year book clean out
  • What I thought: Meh. It read veeeery slowly which I’m not accustomed to in a middle grade book. I’m also tired of Robin Hood retellings that have no plot other than “I am a Robin Hood retelling.”

Dark Metropolis by Jaclyn Dolamore

  • Genre: Young Adult historial fantasy
  • Where I got it from: ARC from the bookstore I work at
  • What I thought: Quite fun. I do love an alt history book that turns into a zombie book out of nowhere. But there was some essential spark missing with this book, and while it was a lot of fun, I just never felt it.

To keep up with my Project: Bookshelf reading, follow me on Goodreads

And now, meet my bookshelf!

I came to Boston with 30 books1.

They fit in one box when I packed them. Two shelves when I unpacked them. The room I rented in Lexington came with a waist-high bookshelf that my books shared with my hats. And I have a lot of hats.

But then, as often happens, I started buying books. I started going to signings and events and meeting cool authors and having them scrawl their names on the title pages. I kept reading books I loved and then buying them, because for me, owning books is like surrounding myself with people I love.

I moved into Boston. Bought myself a tall bookshelf2 and half-filled it, bulking up the holes between books with art and photos and the assorted knitted doll from my mom.

But then I kept buying books. I started working at a bookstore and going to conferences and getting ARCS and review copies from publishers. I kept reading, and finding stories I loved like friends in this city where I didn’t know anyone.


Now, in this city that was once strange, I have both friends and books. My bookshelf is full and overflowing. I’ve not only run out of room in my bedroom bookshelf, I’ve filled up what was once meant to be a living room china cabinet in when fancy people lived here.  My books have taken over my apartment3.

There are books on my shelf that I like to brag about—my autographed Dodger by Terry Pratchett because one time I met him and fangirled so hard core, my gorgeous antique edition of Little Women that came from a geriatric neighbor, the copy of The Fault in Our Stars that John Green signed for me while we had a butterbeer together and I, again, fangirled so hard core.

And then there are the books whose value is purely sentimental to me—my battered Gone Girl, which I bought with the MT in a tiny, eccentric bookshop in Salem in the middle of a snow storm. The hardcover of Code Name Verity in which Elizabeth Wein circled the part where her character’s middle name is the same as my name. The copy of Unwind that I once creepily pulled out of my purse after literally running into Neal Shusterman at a party4. The ARC of Siege and Storm which I literally stole5 from school when I couldn’t bear the thought of it just sitting on the shelf and not being read6.


Then there are books like Tuck Everlasting and Mirette on the Highwire, my copies of which are old and battered and bought second hand at library sales, but important to me because those stories shaped my life, and those are the copies I first read them from. There is something almost the most special about those—the copies that you turned pages on in your parent’s lap or read from at school. Like an artifact from a bygone time of who I was before this book made me different.

As I think about my bookshelf, I am reminded of a quote from Looking for Alaska by John Green: “When I look at my room, I see a girl who loves books.” For me, what makes the books on my shelf special is the space I once shared with them. Whether that is the conversation I once had with the author while they signed it, the train stop I missed while read it, the rippled pages from when I read it in the rain, for me every book is a memory. Every book is a piece of me–who I was when I read it, and who I am because of it.

And what would the first week of a new blog series be without a GIVEAWAY!? As you may have noticed, the top shelf of my china-cabinet bookshelf is full of ARCs (advanced readers copies) of books before they were published. Enter the giveaway to win any three ARCs from that shelf! Need a closer look? Here are your options:


EDIT: I have added an ARC of Heir of Fire by Sarah Maas as part of the giveaway. I got it last weekend from a friend and read it quicker than anticipated, so I’m passing it on! It is now an eligible choice for the ARC giveaway.
Want to win three of these bad boys?
Just click here to fill out the Rafflecopter and enter!

And don’t forget to tune in next Friday for the next edition of PROJECT: BOOKSHELF!


  1. It was incredibly hard to pick which books to bring with me. Like Sophie’s Choice. Except maybe worse.
  2. And on an ill-fated day in November, painted the inside of it blue!
  3. And bless my two long suffering roommates who don’t seem to mind this.
  4. Literally.
  5. Literally.
  6. By me.
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2 thoughts on “Project: Bookshelf Kickoff

  1. Katja says:

    I see The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender lurking below your ARC shelf. This pleases me greatly.

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