I rarely buy books. I am a big fan of our public library, and I hate to think of the clutter I’d leave behind if I owned every book I wanted to read. I make an exception for kindle books (for all I love about our library, its Overdrive e-book selection is pitiful) but for the most part almost all of my reading selections are in our home only temporarily. (Even Anna Karenina, which took me months to read last year. I think I renewed it four or five times.)

We moved last year and our new house has a huge living room. It’s big enough to divide it into two separate areas, and in one area I’d like to put in some built-in shelving for storage and books. Despite several thorough purges of our collections Steve and I have a ton of books, and they’re still all in storage up in my dad’s basement. Once we get them back, I can’t wait to organize them. But I’ve been thinking — we may have a lot of books, but our collection is still lacking.

One thing that matters a lot to me as a parent is to instill a love of reading in my children. I want to make sure they grow up surrounded not just by books, but by good books. I am creating a list of books I want to own in our family library, both for us and for them. I have actual paper books in my Amazon shopping cart right now. Here are some of the ones I’m thinking of first:


Gilead by Marilynne Robinson. We’re reading this for our book club next and I’m so looking forward to rereading it. I honestly think Gilead is the best book I’ve ever read. I found it so overwhelming, in fact, that I still haven’t read Home or Lila, both of which (along with Housekeeping) are also on my to-own list. I will never write as well as Robinson, but I’ll accept that gladly just to bask in the beauty of her prose.

More classics:


Speaking of my book club, I just read this for the first time in 20 years. (I checked it out of the library right before the news of Lee’s next book hit!) It was wonderful. I wish I hadn’t waited since high school to read it again. Along with Mockingbird, I’m planning to add several high school reading list classics: Catcher in the Rye, The Bell Jar, some Dickens, Shakespeare, Virginia Woolf. Of course, the fun part in choosing which books to include is rereading them all!

As far as poetry and nonfiction goes, I am still thinking. I love Mary Oliver*, and I don’t want to forget my college women’s studies days reading Audre Lorde and Adrienne Rich, nor my Academy days with Langston Hughes, Gertrude Stein, and (especially) William Carlos Williams.


(I love this book.)

I don’t own enough bookshelves yet, sadly, so it’s not time to start building my collection just yet. So until we can get to Ikea, my Amazon wish list will just get longer and longer.

What am I missing? (And to think I haven’t even thought about children’s classics! I need to teach the babies to read first. I’ll give that a few years still.)

*As I was adding Oliver to my wish list, I noticed Amazon has a “poetry by women” category. I’m pretty confident they don’t also have a “poetry by men” category. Just, you know, an observation.