Burke’s Books Wants to SeeYour Ideal Bookshelf

Posted by Holly Whitfield | February 18th 2013 1782 0

If your bookshelf could only have 10 books on it, what books would you choose? Think on it, because Burke's Books wants to see your ideal bookshelf for its new project.

The Ideal Bookshelf project was started in 2007 by an artist named Jane Mount, who painted portraits of people by painting the spines of their 10 favorite books.

With Mount's permission, Burke's Books is attempting to create a portrait of Memphis by asking locals (both past and present) to send in lists of the 10 books that changed their lives the most.

It took me a few tries to get mine right, but here's what I came up with:


From left to right, then top to bottom:

1. "High Fidelity" by Nick Hornby – I've read this book (and seen the movie) dozens of times. As an adult, I realize that protagonist is kind of horrible, but this book changed the way I thought about music and boys.

2. "The Frog King" by Adam Davies – Davies' debut novel has been one of my favorites since high school. Boy meets girl, boy ruins relationship, boy is hilarious in the process.

3. "A Room of One's Own" by Virginia Woolf – I tried to find my copy of "Mrs. Dalloway", but I have no idea where it is. I accidentally took a Woolf reading class in college, and though I hated her at first, I came to appreciate her style, her ideas and most of all, her wit. This is her essay about what every woman needs to be happy – a little bit of money and a space of her own.

4. "Just Kids" by Patti Smith – The autobiography of Patti Smith and Robert Maplethorpe's first years in New York City is heartbreaking and hopeful at the same time.

5. "The Portable Dorothy Parker" – Like many high school girls of a certain disposition, I fell hard for Dorothy Parker's dark humor. What she says about girls in glasses has turned out to be kind of true.

6. "Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil" by John Berendt – This is easily the most entertaining travelogue / portrait of a city I've ever read.

7. The AP Stylebook – The AP Stylebook (which is the style guide for the Associated Press, and thus, most journalists) might as well have been attached to my body during college. I've got three editions in my house, and I still use them almost daily.

8. "Columbine" by Dave Cullen – This is a relatively new book, but it's one of the finest pieces of journalistic nonfiction I've ever read.

9. "The Outlaw Bible of American Poetry" – When I was in high school and college, I was a slam poet (don't laugh). This book is a collection of some of the best poetry by America's most forward-thinking renegade poets.

10. "The Bust Guide to the New Girl Order" – I probably should not have read this collection of essays from the early days of Bust Magazine at 14 years old, but I'm glad I did. It opened up a world of ideas and thinking about womanhood and culture that I would have had no idea existed otherwise.

You can submit your own list in writing or as a photo through the Ideal Bookshelf: Memphis Edition tumblr. They ask that you include a list of titles and, if you'd like, your name, occupation and a few sentences about your list.

If you get your submission in by June 30, 2013, you'll have a chance to win a drawing for a shelf portrait by Jane Mount.

Author: Holly Whitfield

I write about what’s going on with Memphis music, food, arts, events, sports, people, and culture. Memphians love Elvis and barbeque with a passion that must be seen to be believed, but there is so much more to this place.

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  1. Kerry,


    Thanks so much for posting this and for submitting your bookshelf.



  2. corey mesler says:

    Kerry, you rock. Thanks for joining our Ideal Bookshelf project and helping us promote it. 

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