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, we’re hosting J. Anderson Coats, whose book, The Wicked and the Just, should be on the reading list of everyone who loves historical fiction. Or Wales. What does she have on her bookshelf besides some creepy-ass candles? Read onto find out!
But first, let’s take a look at my reading wrap-up.
This week, from my collection of unread books on my shelf, I read…
Us Conductors by Sean Michaels
- Genre: Adult historical fiction
- Where I got it: Purchased for myself after the author did a reading at Porter Square Books, complete with a theremin demonstration by a local thereminist. What is a theremin, you ask? Aside from being the first electronic instrument and the subject of this novel, it is the weirdest music making device you will ever come across. You can find video here, and I encourage you to watch and be mystified.
- What I thought: This book is stunning and haunting and I’m so glad I read it. The language is beautiful and poetic without ever feeling trite. However, like so many adult books in this genre, there are huge stretches of time where I felt like nothing was happening. It wasn’t happening beautifully, but I still got a little weary. It read very slow. But still highly recommended!
Marco Impossible by Hannah Moskowitz
- Genre: Tween contemporary
- Where I got it: Picked up during the great Simmons book grab of 2014
- What I thought: While the emotional landscape of this book is impressive, there was too much going on. Too many characters. Too many emotional journeys. Too much wrapping up of those emotional journeys. In the end, it felt muddled, and the emotional impact was lost in the amount of it. Also the ending was so corny! Lots of over the top eye rolling was happening on my end.
Song of the Quarkbeast by Jasper Fforde
- Genre: YA fantasy
- Where I got it: Snagged from the free books shelf at work
- What I thought: This book is so funny! Contemporary fantasy in the style of Douglas Adams and Terry Pratchett. And Jennifer Strange is much like her fictional sister, Thursday Next, in her unfailing practicality.
And now, meet J’s bookshelf!
I’m a bookshelf decorator. As in, my home has a lot of floor-to-ceiling bookshelves to spare me needing to paint the walls a nice color or purchase art or really expend any effort whatsoever when it comes to decorating.
I’m also a librarian by profession.
You’d think this would mean my books are organized in some way.
But they’re not. By and large, they’re organized in one of two ways: 1) order of acquisition; or 2) size.
There are some exceptions. One of them is a small but growing collection of books by people I know*:
*If I know you and your book isn’t here, it’s probably because I gifted it to someone. Please don’t throw things. :)
Another is a two-shelf unit across the hall from my bathroom known as the medieval bookshelf.
“Medieval bookshelf” is somewhat of a misnomer, as there are books about street ballads, historical artisans and craftspeople, and folklore that live there. But it is where all the books I use for research live, and they are organized by place and/or subject. Some of my most favorite things live here, notably a copy of Brut y Tywysogion (Welsh: Chronicle of the Princes) that came from Japan of all places and cost something like 17,000 yen.
Another is my husband’s textbooks from back in 2006 that haven’t been read since but apparently have been legacied onto this shelf:
(The creepy-as-hell candles need to be regifted STAT)
Also, here’s another legacy. When my son was little, he was allowed one shelf in the living room to keep whatever books he wanted so he didn’t have to keep running to his room to bring his favorites. He’s sixteen now, but this is what was left on the shelf from the last time it was used:
(And yes, Skepticism and Animal Faith was placed there by him, at age ten or so.)
And here’s why we’re about due for another bookshelf:
Being surrounded by books is comforting, which is why I’m not keen to impose an order. They remind me of people I know, people I love, so it really doesn’t matter where they are as long as they’re easily at hand.
J. Anderson Coats is the author of historical fiction for young adultsthat routinely includes too much violence, name-calling and pettyvandalism perpetrated by badly-behaved young people. Her first YA novel, THE WICKED AND THE JUST, was one of Kirkus’s Best Teen Books of 2012, a 2013 YALSA Best for Young Adults (BFYA) winner, and a School Library Journal Best Books of 2012 selection. It also won the 2013 Washington State Book Award for Young Adults.
Thanks for tuning in! Join us next Friday for more Project: Bookshelf. Can’t wait that long? Visit the Project: Bookshelf archive.