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I requested My Ideal Bookshelf (cover at left… I can’t remember where I first read about it) from the library and IT. IS. AWESOME! Cleverly edited by Thessaly La Force and creatively illustrated by Jane Mount, this book features more than 100 leading cultural figures who “share the books that matter to them most – books that define their dreams and ambitions and in many cases helped them find their way in the world.”
For each, there is a two-page spread; one side for their reflections and one for a graphic representation of their ideal bookshelf picks, amazingly illustrated by Jane Mount. Here’s a random example:
So I started wondering… if I had to select a small shelf of books that represent me – the few that have helped shape my life – which would I choose? Which ones are my “favorite favorites?”
I pulled out my list of everything I’ve ever read and started to flag ones that could be contenders. I have hung on to my copy of Einstein in Love: A Scientific Romance by Dennis Overbye because I remember that I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. That huge volume of The Complete Works of William Shakespeare? It was an amazing experience reading most of his plays in a course my senior year of college and it did teach me a great deal about how to read a text explicatively, but that doesn’t seem so important to me right now.
And that’s just it… the Preface of the book states that “what you select today may be completely different from what you would assemble tomorrow. It’s a snapshot of you in a moment of time. You could build an ideal bookshelf every year of your life, and it would be completely different. And just as satisfying.” So I don’t feel terrible that I’m more drawn to a book on how to get your child to sleep through the night than a literary classic these days.
So I chose my favorite favorites from my shelves and arranged them. Then for some reason, I decided to try to paint them on canvas. I’m so glad I did! I used a 10×20 canvas board and pared the books down to fit that size too. I marked how thick the spines are and how tall with pencil and sketched it out. Then started mixing colors and painting. I should tell you that I had no idea what I was doing but I just dove in anyway.
The detail of the spines I tackled with fine and extra fine point Sharpies and 05 Microns mostly.
It turned out way better than I expected! It looks so real from across the room. Time seemed to fly by when I was making it too. It took a few days, but I would drop my daughter off at school, begin working on this, and 5 minutes later it was time to pick her up. But it was really 5 hours! Here’s the final canvas.
I am pondering writing a post about these books and why I picked them. Is anyone interested in reading that?
What are your “favorite favorites?” Are they different now than what they were 5 years ago? Do tell!
(No books were harmed in the making of this canvas.) (And to all the awesome books on my shelves and in my heart that I did not select, I still love you… it was so hard to choose!)