A New Book/Reading Project

I know, I know. I always have some book project that I start and then don’t quite finish but I am hopeful this time!

So I am reading this:


I picked it up at Powell’s last weekend and am almost done with it. The author, Phyllis Rose, picks one shelf at the New York Society Library — LEQ to LES — and reads her way through it with the usual surprising results. I enjoy the project/memoir type of book. It appeals to my type-A ness and it’s true, surprising and meaningful connections can be made in the midst of a bit of structure. Of course, chaos brings its own connections and meanings but I always crave a little bit of structure (and so do my girls, especially Cate, understatement of the year).


While I am reading in my comfortable chair in the little office that Telfer built for me, this shelf is at eye level. I will be reading and become distracted, look up from my book and think to myself, I have so many books that I haven’t read, this is ridiculous, why haven’t I read these books? And then I am comforted because if there is a natural disaster or I am on bed rest again for some reason I will never, ever run out of books to read. Anyway, The Shelf inspired me to read a whole shelf and this is the one I chose. And I get the luxury of choosing a shelf at home, books I have already curated and decided at one point that I wanted to read, but haven’t yet for a variety of reasons. I did not tamper with the shelf in any way but the fact that the next pick for our college girls book club is on it pretty much sealed the deal (The Map of Enough). Also, remember my 52 in 52 project from a few years ago? The leftover books are all on this shelf! So I can finish two projects at the same time.

Here are the 28 titles:

The Map of Enough: One Woman’s Search for Place (Molly Caro May)
Dirt Candy: A Cookbook (Amanda Cohen & Ryan Dunlavey)
The Family Dinner: Great Ways to Connect With Your Kids, One Meal at a Time (Laurie David)
The Affairs of Others (Amy Grace Lloyd)
Burning the Days: Recollection (James Salter)
Townie: A Memoir (Andre Dubus III)
An Unquiet Mind: A Memoir of Moods and Madness (Kay Redfield Jamison)
Blue Nights (Joan Didion)
Turn of Mind (Alice LaPlante)
Running the Rift (Naomi Benaron)
The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America (George Packer)
The Accidental (Ali Smith)
A Rope & A Prayer: The Story of a Kidnapping (Davide Rohde & Kristen Mulvihill)
The Sorrows of an American (Siri Hustvedt)
The Widower’s Tale (Julia Glass)
A Novel Bookstore (Laurence Cosse)
The Good Life: The Moral Individual in an Antimoral World (Cheryl Mendelson)
The Panopticon (Jenni Fagan)
Slammerkin (Emma Donaghue)
The New Yorker Stories (Ann Beattie)
The Whole Five Feet (Christopher R. Beha)
Nocturnes (Kazuo Ishiguro)
Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life (Marta McDowell)
Thirty Girls (Susan Minot)
Little Bee (Chris Cleave)
Reading in the Brain: The New Science of How We Read (Stanislas Dehaene)
Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm (Philip Pullman)
The Art of Fielding (Chad Harbach)

Has any one read any of these books? I haven’t started so if you have an obvious recommendation, please share.

Published by Andrea Y. Griffith

owner of browsers. former librarian. wife. mother to two tweens and the cutest labradoodle in the world.

7 thoughts on “A New Book/Reading Project

  1. Let me know what you think of townie. I had it checked out but had to turn it in before I got to it.
    My “shelf” I am reading is out of ideal bookshelf. Fun concept.


  2. I have not read any, but I own a few of them. Have you read Ann Patchett’s new book of essays? They take my breath away. I’m thinking of a new project, too. Rereading five or so significant books that I clearly remember reading the first time. Writing first what I remember about the experience and then seeing what new reactions come with a fresh read.


    1. Thinking about: The Sparrow, Angle of Repose, Cloister Walk, Human Stain, Peace like a River, The Last Report on the Miracles at Little No Horse, Traveling Mercies, Freckled and Fourteen (a book I read in junior high that sticks with me–not sure why). I should have more weighty books, but these are books that hit me when I read them.


      1. i have only read cloister walk and traveling mercies. angle of repose has been on my to read list for years now. you have almost made it to summer – are you planning to read them then?


  3. i think i gave you two of those – Dirt Candy (for sure) and An Unquiet Mind (less sure). i’ve read Blue Nights and An Unquiet mind. I own a copy of Reading in the Brain and haven’t read it either (and it’s probably at mom and dad’s house); maybe we can read it at the same time? Blue Nights – beautiful. and funny because it’s written from this rich peron’s perspective And there are brand names like every few pages.. An Unquiet Mind I loved enough that I gave it to several people; I think no one I gave it to read it.


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