My Ideal Bookshelf,  edited by Thessaly La Force, art by Jane Mount
My Ideal Bookshelf is a wonderful book to browse for reading ideas. Over one hundred “leading cultural figures”—writers, artists, musicians and such—talk about what they consider the books that matter to them most. Each one page essay is accompanied by an artist’s rendition of their bookshelf. Here we can see that writer David Sedaris is a big fan of Tobias Wolff books because “every story is a manual on how to be a good person.” Tony Hawke, the athlete, loves stories about overcoming adversity. A Child Called “It” by David Pelzer and Endurance by Alfred Lansing offer lessons Tony identifies with. James Patterson gives top billing to Gabriel Garcia Marquez’ One Hundred Years of Solitude, saying it “drove me into writing thrillers…I realized I couldn’t do anything at his level.” Other contributors include Robert Crais, James Franco, Michael Chabon, Jennifer Egan, William Wegman, Malcolm Gladwell, Nancy Pearl. In telling us their favorites, we get insights into their lives—plus intriguing lists of titles, both popular and obscure, for our own reading pleasure. The book leaves us finally, with the question, what would be on our own Ideal Bookshelf?