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The books still on my shelf

| Monday, March 30, 2020

Having been forcibly returned to my childhood bedroom for the rest of the semester, I am now surrounded by the possessions not deemed worthy of getting rid of quite yet but also not so essential to my life to be in my beloved room in Le Mans Hall. Most of these are books — some of them the novels and poetry collections that convinced me I should be an English major. Many of them are books I haven’t finished (or even started). Instead of using my extra week of spring break to read some of these unread books, I spent more time reminiscing about the disparate inhabitants of my bookshelf and why I own them in the first place. Here are a few of my (probably useless) findings.

A stack of John Grisham paperbacks

For some reason, I read around ten of these legal thrillers as a middle schooler. I kept one with me in hopes of a few free minutes. One time, my math teacher — a self-proclaimed John Grisham fan — saw me reading one and raised her eyebrows at me as she asked if my parents knew what I was reading. They did. The memory of her judgmental expression of concern still makes me laugh.

“Anna Karenina”

Every time I come home for more than a day or two, my bookmark moves another 50 pages or so into this absolute masterpiece. Tolstoy’s story of this deeply flawed and incredibly real family is endlessly captivating. I feel this way every time I pick it up. I’m not sure why I haven’t finished it yet. Maybe next winter break…

The novel a guy I met at a dorm party proclaimed to be the best ever written

I tried and failed three times to get through this. I really did. It proved to be too pretentious — even for me. Every time I see it now, I laugh at my freshman-year self. Why did I think dorm parties were a good place to get book recommendations? Also, why did I take the recommendation so seriously as to buy the book?

The Italian dictionary I forgot to pack for my semester in Rome and thus have never opened

Perhaps leaving this one on my shelf is a reminder of my good intentions. I really did want to learn Italian — or at least do well in my Italian class.

The pocket-size French dictionary that somehow did make it to Rome

I don’t have an explanation for this one.

A modern retelling of “Little Women”

I bought this last week, thinking I’d want something lighthearted to keep me from lamenting the sudden separation from my friends. Today someone asked me how I was enjoying the book, and I had to admit I pushed it aside for “A Game of Thrones.” I guess I didn’t want the warm and fuzzy feelings “Little Women” conjures as much as I thought.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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