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 are joined by Annie Cardi whose debut novel, The Chance You Won’t Return, is absolutely stellar and I’m honestly a bit confused as to why you’re still reading this instead of running immediately to your local independent bookstore to get yourself a copy. She has some bookshelf confessions to share with us this week….
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…
Monstrous by MarcyKate Connolly
- Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
- Where I Got It: Advanced copy from the bookstore. Also MarcyKate is both a fellow Bostonian and debut 2015 author, so I was super excited to get this one!
- What I thought: This book is pitched as Frankenstein meets the Brothers Grimm, and that’s exactly what it is. It’s a beautiful love letter to classic fairytales and modern fantasy, and I think it would be a great book for kids transitioning out of middle grade and into YA.
Mistwalker by Saundra Mitchell
- Genre: YA magical realism
- Where I got it: Courtesy copy from work
- What I thought: This book is so creative, and so atmospheric, and so Maine. All of those are things that I love…but I didn’t love this book. I think it just lacked some tension, and needed just a little more going on to really keep me engaged.
The Maze Runner by James Dashner
- Genre: YA dystopian
- Where I got it: So technically this is Marx’s book. But it’s on the bookshelf in the living room that we share. So it comes from my bookshelf. So it counts.
- What I thought: The ending didn’t quite live up to all the build up, but over all it was a fast, enjoyable read and I’m super excited for the movie. I think the visuals will translate really well to film.
My Heart and Other Black Holes by Jasmine Warga
- Genre: YA contemporary realism
- Where I got it: Another advanced copy of a fellow 2015 debut-ers book
- What I thought: I knocked this one out in a single sitting. Without even meaning to. It just sort of happened. It’s a very heartfelt and sincere look at depression and suicide, and the use of physics to look at those subjects is brilliant. I also love the family dynamics at the core of this book, and the question of if children are destined to become their parents. Guys, there are so many great debut novels coming out next year! Get excited.
And now, meet Annie and her bookshelf!
I get nervous in a house without a lot of books. If I go to someone’s house, one of the first things I do is check out their bookshelf—not even purposefully, but because it’s the most interesting thing in the room. (Okay, if they have a dog or cat, I crouch down to pet said fuzzyface while checking out the bookshelves.)
Bookshelves can also tell you a lot about someone—what they generally like to read, what they enjoy enough to buy, what they love enough o have multiple copies of, how organized they are, etc. etc. Since I can’t invite all of you over to scan my shelves, here are a few of my bookshelf confessions:
When I want to borrow or buy a book, I appreciate shelves organized by category and author’s last name. At home, things are a lot more haphazard. I try to keep things arranged by general category (YA, fiction, nonfiction, etc.) but within those categories authors get mixed up and books in a series get separated and sometimes books are shuffled into different categories if there’s not enough room on a shelf.
Confession #2: …Except when it comes to color.
One bookshelf is organized by color, ROYGBIV-style, with black and white at the end. I’m actually way more likely to find a book on this bookshelf, because mostly I remember a physical book by how it looks.
Confession #3: I judge books by their covers.
The bookshelf in our living room, the one that gets seen most by guests? Yeah, books are specifically selected for that shelf based on how pretty their covers/spines are. (Books that are especially cool or emotionally important also get priority.)
Confession #4: You can find me in the YA section.
I write YA, so it makes sense that I would have a solid collection of YA novels. It’s one of the categories I buy the most, and I have several shelves devoted entirely to YA.
I’ve always been a rereader. When I was younger, I’d reread books all the time—even just paging through sections that I enjoyed. I reread less now, but when I want to read a book and have to choose between buying it or getting it from the library, I ask myself, “Will I want to reread this?” If I do, it goes on the purchase list. If not, I get it from the library first, and then if I love it, I can buy it and add it to the collection.
Confession #6: My books stay on my shelves.
There are generous people in the world who, when you say “Oh, I want to read that,” will take that book off their shelves and give it to you and tell you that you can give it back whenever. I am not one of those people. I lost two copies of The Princess Bride in high school by lending them out, and I still haven’t gotten over the loss. (I’m petty, yes, but they were my books and they don’t make that cover anymore!) If I let you borrow a book, it means I deeply trust you as a human being. You might be named a godparent at some point.
Books are more than just the words on the pages. They contain all the excitement and emotions of your reading experience, all the memories that surrounded your reading experience. They’re a little part of who you are, right there for you to see.
*Some books also from husband’s collection; love means never having to ask to read a book.
Annie Cardi holds an MFA in creative writing from Emerson College and a BA from the University of Virginia. Her short stories have appeared in The Georgetown Review, Vestal Review, Juked, and other publications. In 2011, PEN New England selected her as a winner of the Susan P. Bloom Children’s Book Discovery Award for the manuscript that would become her debut young adult novel, The Chance You Won’t Return. Annie lives near Boston with her husband and a portrait of a sea captain. You can find her sharing funny gifs and pictures of corgis at: Blog Facebook Twitter Tumblr.
Thanks for tuning in! Join us next Friday for our final edition of Project: Bookshelf. Can’t wait that long? Visit the Project: Bookshelf archive.