on my bookshelf


I’ve a confession to make: for most of my twenties I was a book snob. If a book wasn’t “highbrow” literary fiction, it wasn’t worth reading. I mocked beach reads and turned up my nose at commercial fiction. Part of my snobbery can be attributed to attending an MFA program where highly-educated students read obscure 14th Century poets on the regular, and a great deal of it can be attributed to the fact that I was kind of an asshole.

Instead of battling the genres, I now look at writing very plainly: books that inspire me and books that don’t.

My first love is fiction; I’ll always have a taste for it, an abiding affection for it, but now in my late 30s I’ve suddenly fallen in love with so many genres and forms. I read that which inspires me to create, whether it be a food memoir, an exquisitely-wrought YA novel, or a novel that breaks ranks with content and form {Karen Russell comes to mind, who is a writer I deeply respect and admire}. Working on my novel has me reading a great deal of poetry, and I never thought I’d fall in love with verse, a form based on the economy of language, something to which I strive for in my own writing. How can a line be spliced such that it operates on several levels in conveying mood, character, scene? How can a single word be revelatory? Is there a plainer, more powerful way of saying something? How much can I create whitespace?

Someone once asked me what I do to get into the headspace of writing, how I get my “in” as it were. It’s a difficult question to answer since the impetus depends on the scene or character I’m trying to create. However, inspiration doesn’t come in one form or style or genre — in fact, I often find it hard to read contemporary literary fiction while I’m writing as I don’t want to get too influenced by a style I admire.

Right now, my bookshelf is stacked with some really great reads. Naturally, I’m starting with Michael Cunningham. Well, okay, I’m breaking my reading fiction while writing fiction rule. I’m blaming jet lag for everything.

Currently on my bookshelf: Aravind Adiga’s The White Tiger {fiction} | Molly Wizenberg’s Delancey {memoir} | Michael Cunningham’s The Snow Queen {fiction} | Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park {YA. Of note, I purchased this book after reading a single line posted on Twitter} | Summer Pierre’s Great Gals: Inspired Ideas for Living a Kick-Ass Life {illustration, creative}

12 thoughts on “on my bookshelf

  1. I’ve recently discovered that I enjoy reading food memoirs as well, which is really a bit strange as I don’t cook. Do you have any to recommend?


    1. Hey Kris! I really liked Kate Christensen’s food memoir, Blue Plate Special (so exquisite). I also liked Relish, and anything that Dave Leibovitz writes. I just started getting into food memoirs myself. 🙂


      1. I will be sure to check those out, thanks!! Dave Leibovitz’ Sweet Life in Paris is already in my books to read and I can’t wait!

        Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks, Sam. I read My Life in France and thoroughly enjoyed that book! Blood, Bones is in my to read and will definitely check out Ruth Reichl as well. Thanks for the recommendations!


  2. Felica, Felicia, Felicia! Whenever you do a book post, I end up buying a bundle…excited for Delancey and think I’ll finally cave and read Eleanor & Park. xo


  3. I used to be embarrassed that I was still reading YA books in my twenties, but no longer! I agree with you- a good book is a good book and it doesn’t matter which genre it is. Eleanor and Park was one of my favorite reads of 2013- I tell everyone to read it. I just grabbed a copy of The Snow Queen too, so that’s towards the top of my list.


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