You Are What You Read

When I moved from my (incredibly cozy) dorm at LMU back to my nearby home at the end of this past semester, my first thought upon trying to get settled in was: wow, my room is a MESS. I hadn’t lived in it regularly for quite a few months, after all; clutter that I couldn’t be bothered to tidy up had gradually piled up during my weekend visits, along with a thin layer of dust. The state of my desk drawers and closet were despicable enough, but the mess in my room that made me cringe the most was my bookshelf. It took me a while to get around to the task, but once I had cleared away the old papers, empty binders, and barely-used sketchbooks that I had left there once upon a time, I turned to the actual books themselves. Some were new, some were older, some never read, and some…missing.

In my mind, at least, the books I’ve read are a way of tracking how I’ve evolved as a person. Having so many chunks of the metaphorical narrative, at least more recently, was a bit disconcerting. I decided to bring a few of the books I had long since stored away back out into the open air, and a few trips to the attic later, I had a newly-organized bookshelf and a trip down memory lane before my eyes.

10252080_772932569391822_1754344186425947344_nThe top shelf is now filled with nothing but manga volumes, manga magazines, and other such graphics novels, as became tradition in my middle school years once I began my ongoing love affair with Japanese media. After carefully categorizing them by genre or author (everything by my favorite manga artist CLAMP go together, for instance, regardless of genre), it became apparent that my collection is very sporadic – I only have two full series’ collected, for example – but every volume I have holds a very special memory of one kind or another. I’m very reluctant to part with even the manga that I hardly read anymore; it would almost be like giving away a part of my body. It also became obvious that my collection of American comics is…lacking, to say the least. The Star Trek: The Original Series and Captain America: Winter Soldier omnibuses are the extent of my collection.

10320582_772932572725155_7729735636449508993_nThe next section was the easiest to organize, as it’s the genre I own the most of: fantasy. This shelf contains many stories of its own: a newly-bought omnibus of The Chronicles of Narnia replacing the old falling-apart scholastic paperbacks I once owned, a mass market paperback of A Clash of Kings sitting on its own since the friend I lent A Game of Thrones to still hasn’t returned it. A more recent addition, The Mortal Instruments series, stands one book short of a full set since my pre-order of the final volume won’t ship until approximately November (and it’s driving me insane because I need to know what’s going to happen to Alec and Magnus!). The Lord of the Rings refuses to stop staring at me, reminding me that I haven’t finished it yet; Harry Potter is no better, nearly begging me to reread it and make up for all the time we lost back in elementary school when my parents wouldn’t allow me to read it. Perhaps the most colorful and nostalgic series stands out among the rest: The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini, all gorgeous hardcovers that I bought to replace the worn-through paperbacks I began reading in middle school and devoured again and again, entranced by the dreamlike places and the characters’ enduring charm and hope. I definitely want that story of a boy and his dragon to last, if no others do.

The next shelf down is full of stories I’ve relived many of times, stories that haven’t finished, and stories that haven’t even started. This is my “miscellaneous” collection of books separated into genres that I don’t have enough of to warrant their own shelf: science fiction, historical and realistic fiction, drama, mythology, you get the picture. The most prominent feature is my extensive collection of The Babysitters’ Club series, which had been hiding in my attic for most of my high school years; I was scarcely without one of those battered 80s-era paperbacks during middle school (perhaps it was these books that gave me my in-school reputation of being an incurable bookworm, a role I eagerly embraced). Three novels of a six-part series of teenage spy books sits waiting to be finished, along with scarcely opened copies of Beowulf, The Canterbury Tales, and Le Morte d’Arthur that we had meant to read in my senior English class but never had the time to get through completely. What I like to call my “social justice” fiction books are grouped together: the children-fighting-to-the-death epics Battle Royale and The Hunger Games trilogy, and the massive Les Misérables, put together because they all made me realize just how much I empathize with revolutionary idealists who fight for social freedom and equality.

10313818_772932576058488_8910147950457682909_nOn the bottom shelf, beside a few nonfiction books on writing, an omnibus of the works of Edgar Allan Poe, and my collection of books on alternative spirituality, sits the final series I fished from my attic: The Twilight Saga. While it’s unlikely I’ll actually go back and reread them anytime soon, this early high school obsession serves as a wonderful reminder of how far I’ve come in my literary pursuits.

What we add to our bookshelves – and what we choose to leave off of them – can be a wonderful and interesting monument to our interests, growth, and ongoing self-discovery. What are the books that stand out most in your collection? Is there any special meaning to how you arrange them? Are there any that you go back to over and over, any that you scarcely touch or that you’ve been meaning to dive into? I’d love to hear your stories in the comments!


8 thoughts on “You Are What You Read

  1. micalahtaylor95 says:

    You haven’t been able to read the final book in the Mortal Instruments (I can’t get the title to italicize, I am sorry.) series? I stumbled upon the final book a few weeks ago at Wal-Mart. Was the release date bumped up by chance? I hope you aren’t having to wait until November for a book that has already been released.

    • alliecat13 says:

      Oh, no, I could go out and get the hardback if I wanted! I saw it in Wal-Mart too. I pre-ordered the paperback edition, which is why I’m waiting – it’s estimated that it’ll be out around November.

      • micalahtaylor95 says:

        Oh! I didn’t even think of that! I don’t know if you’ve heard anything about it or not, but you are in for a shock! It’s so good! I’m upset that the series is now over but I know there’s still the Infernal Devices series and another spin off from this book! However, none of the other books will ever give me the same feeling that Jace and Clary give me!

      • alliecat13 says:

        A shock? Oh no. OH NO. PLEASE tell me that Alec and Magnus live and get back together and have many adopted babies together, PLEASE.
        …I got a little carried away there. Sorry xD Now I really can’t wait to read it! I haven’t read the Infernal Devices or Bane Chronicles yet, but I think I’m with you – I’m not sure if anything will be able to top Jace and Clary’s story.

      • micalahtaylor95 says:

        Nope! I’m not telling you anything! You’ll just have to wait and read the book! I’ve read two of the three Infernal Devices books and they are pretty good. I don’t agree with who the main female character is with in the series but it’s worth the read! I think you would enjoy it! The Bane Chronicles? This is new! I hadn’t heard anything about this (series?)!

      • alliecat13 says:

        Ooh, you’re going to love these! The Bane Chronicles is a series of short stories all about Magnus and his adventures. They’re only available in online format right now, but there’s a print hardbook of the entire collection coming out in…November, I think?

      • micalahtaylor95 says:

        Oh! I can’t wait until they come out! I only recently (as in Monday) had internet installed at my house. I’ll have to look for them online to read them! Thank you so much for telling me about them!

      • alliecat13 says:

        No problem! 😀

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s