Bookshelf 2Last month, I made a promise to myself that I wouldn’t buy any more new books for the year. And up until last Saturday, … I had kept that promise.

Don’t judge me!

My intentions were well placed. You see, I love the concept fashionistas and stylists herald as “shopping in your own closet.” It’s basically the fashion-equivalent of the staycation. And why not? It’s refreshing, self-edifying and easy on the pocketbook. (Do people still use pocketbooks?)

Anyway, how many times have you (or someone you know) said “I need to stop buying books and just read the ones I already have?” Or some variation thereof. I know I’m guilty of the odd practice of buying books that you can’t wait to read while the ones I purchased years ago still sit lonely and dusty on the shelves.

Well, I vowed to change all that starting this spring. Despite not setting any hard resolutions or goals for the year, I am determined to focus on repairing and revitalizing my health and spirit. And one of the best ways to do that is to take the time to read, relax and reflect.

So after bringing home a nice haul from the legendary Abbey Bookshop and Shakespeare & Company in Paris, I realized that my home office bookshelves, plus the overflow bookshelf in the hallway, are becoming more of an homage to the person I want to be more than an expression of who I truly am. So instead of buying more books, or even borrowing them from the library, I pledged to seek out those moments of relaxation and reflection in the tomes I already own.

As you can see, although my bookshelves aren’t packed to the brim, I have a lot to work with on a variety of subjects. As someone who worked after school at the local library for a year and a half, I’m quite fussy about crowding my book spines and not giving books room to “breathe.” But should you take the time to peruse the shelves in my photos, you’ll see books on politics, fashion (Linett), finance (Bridgforth), travel, celebrity memoirs, race relations (Rhodes-Pitts), artistic expression (Wilson), freelance writing, and even the occasional fiction, in modern (Garcia), genre (Gaiman) and classic (Joyce) formats. I even have a book on bookstores.

So yeah, OK. I’m quirky. No shock there. But what am I reading to aid in this quest for revitalization? Well, it turns out, that quirky selection of books offers just enough to make my summer reading list a breeze.

Here’s where you’ll find my nose buried throughout the summer.

All Art Is Propaganda: Critical Essays by George Orwell

Back in Los Angeles, I had a short, but sweet gig at a little niche bookstore in a neighborhood bordering Valley Village and Studio City. It was nestled inside of Aroma Coffee & Tea Company, and the store dedicated itself to a small curated selection of fiction, nonfiction, children’s books and gifts from a sister bookshop in the UK. Sadly, it’s no longer there (Aroma is, the bookstore isn’t). But before I stopped working there, I bought 4 books to not only add to my personal library, but to forever remind me how much I adored that space and everything it represented. This title was one of those books. And given this year’s political climate, I think it’s long overdue for my attention.

Bookshelf 1

Women Who Run With the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estés

This is the book that sparked my impulse to break the “No More New Books” promise. You see, like most English majors who attended liberal arts colleges, I took courses in Women’s Literature and a variety of multicultural studies. So I’m familiar with a number of great intellectual minds exploring female identity in the modern world — bell hooks, Betty Friedan, Mary Wollstonecraft, Audre Lorde, Joan Didion, Paula Giddings, etc. But I had not read this book (or any book) by Clarissa Pinkola Estés. And out of all the recommended titles on Janet Mock’s “author’s bookshelf,” this one leapt at me to take her home. How could I say no?

The Measure of a Man by Sidney Poitier

I wish I had a cool tale that went with how I came about this title, but if I’m not mistaken, I came across it in the discounted shelving at Borders while I was staying with my folks in Pennsylvania a few years ago. I remember when the book was published, and it was the talk of the celebrity biography circuit. I’ve read my fair share of celebrity autobios and bios over the years, but this one has been on my To Read list ever since it was released. So why haven’t I read it? It’s literally right there! Well, this summer, I’m going to change that.

Hellblazer graphic novel #7 “Tainted Love”

I’m not sure if I’ve exposed my inner nerd enough to let this one go without explanation, so … here goes. I’ve been reading comics off-and-on since I was a kid, but none have ever resonated with me like the Hellblazer series by Vertigo/DC Comics. Years after moving off from reading comics because life became more life-y, I found my way back to the lead character, John Constantine, through a short-lived, but much beloved (by me, anyway) TV series on NBC. After the show was cancelled, I couldn’t just let that fire die, so here I am, renewing my love for complex characterization, an extremely gray moral code, and the master of the dark arts… one graphic novel at a time. And I can’t wait to dig in to book #7!