Book Recommendation: My Ideal Bookshelf

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One of the things I miss most about bookstores, as they close down one by one all over the country, is the experience of coming across a surprise volume that Amazon would never know I’d want. Thankfully, there are still some good independent bookstores fighting it out across the land, and one of the best is Carmichael’s here in Louisville, KY. I am in there at least two or three times a week (sometimes more), and there’s almost always something new that gains my attention. That happened yesterday with a book that’s proven to be a lot of fun.

The book is called My Ideal Bookshelf. The volume asks notable people in a variety of fields, from Malcolm Gladwell to Judd Apatow to Rosanne Cash, to imagine a bookshelf with the books that made a mark on their lives. With each page-long essay, there’s a drawing by artist Jane Mount of the bookshelf.

I’m not even a third of the way through the book, but it was worth the price by the third or fourth page. The essays and the drawings give a little window of insight into the lives of each of the contributors. The book made me wonder what the ideal bookshelves would look like of lots of people who matter to me, but who aren’t in this volume.

It also made me think about the books that have been important to me along the way. And it made me remember what one of my favorite writers said to me just a couple of years ago, “Isn’t it funny how you meet just the right people at just the right time, have just the right conversations at just the right time, and happen upon just the right books at just the right time?”

That is an amazing thing, and it’s what we in the Body of Christ call “providence.”

If you like books and people, and how the two interact, pick up a copy of this little book.

And, in the meantime, what books would be on your ideal bookshelf?

We live in a fearful and cowardly time. The crisis we face is not a crisis of clarity but a crisis of courage.


About Russell Moore

Russell Moore is Public Theologian at Christianity Today and Director of Christianity Today’s Public Theology Project.