The New Yorker books blog has a feature called “The Subconscious Shelf,” wherein readers send in pictures of their bookshelves and the editor of the blog, Macy Halford, comments on their taste in books. Egomaniac that I am, I succumbed. Not to toot my own horn too much, but this is what she said about me and my books:
Emily, what can I say. I find this shelf inspiring, all the more so because this collection represents those precious few books you wouldn’t live without for even a semester (granted some are probably coursebooks, but I’m guessing that most—even if they began that way—now hold personal value). I see many essential reads—Sedgwick’s “Epistemology of the Closet,” Butler’s “Gender Trouble,” Frank’s “What’s the Matter with Kansas?,” Whitman, Wilde, Waugh, Freud, Nietzsche, James (William), Ed White. There’s also Peter Manso’s “PTown” and “The Group Singing Songbook.” To state the obvious, this is a gay bookshelf, which isn’t, in itself, anything to get excited about. What I like about it is its range: if you are concerned with a particular topic, it’s smart to read widely and with purpose. I’d wager that you’re interested in activism (or are already active), and have educated yourself appropriately. It’s inspiring because it is all too easy to be both very concerned with something and too lazy to do the work of becoming truly informed. Your books suggest to me that you are serious, smart, and un-lazy.
More, and pictures of my shelves, at The Book Bench. To Halford, I would like to point out that I am currently taking a class in children’s literature, hence the Harry Potter; and that all the McPhee on my shelf comes from the august New Yorker staff writer himself, whose amazing and unparalleled creative non-fiction class I took in spring 2009.