Thursday, April 5, 2018

Susan Henderson’s Giant, Living, Moving Library

Reader:  Susan Henderson

Location:  Kings Park, NY

Collection size:  My collection is a giant, living, moving thing. I try to get rid of books so all those that remain are truly keepers.

The one book I’d run back into a burning building to rescue:  I’m taking two: Max Porter’s Grief Is The Thing With Feathers and Toni Morrison’s Beloved.

Favorite book from childhood:  Little House in the Big Woods by Laura Ingalls Wilder. That was the first book I disappeared into, the first book I read in my lap while I was supposed to be watching the teacher at the chalkboard.

My guilty pleasure book:  Stiff by Mary Roach, where you can learn every gross thing about bodies that are donated to science.

I’m tough on my books. They often have broken spines, and I have a habit of dog-earring mine all the way to the sentence I liked.

There are books in every room in the house. This, for example, is the dining room.

This is my to-read stack. Mostly poetry.

We had these shelves built to store the fancy little knickknacks we got at our wedding but, gradually, the knickknacks were replaced by books.

In my office, underneath a photo gallery of some favorite authors, I have a stack of research books for the new novel I’m trying to write.

We’ve saved a bunch of our kids’ books for future grandchildren. These ones smell moldy because they were my husband’s when he was a boy. (His family’s from Hawaii.)

I often come across books with old receipts or lists stuffed inside of them. I must have written this note when I was 18 or 19. “JD” refers to my writing mentor, Jim Daniels. Apparently, I had to meet him at 4:30.

There are books here and there that were written by my husband’s uncle, who loved mythology.

But my favorites are here. These are the books that shaped or defined me. If someone wants to know me better, they can spend some time at this shelf.

Susan Henderson is a five-time Pushcart Prize nominee and the recipient of an Academy of American Poets Prize. She is the author of two novels, The Flicker of Old Dreams and Up from the Blue, both published by HarperCollins. Susan lives in Kings Park, New York, and blogs at the writer support group,

My Library is an intimate look at personal book collections.  Readers are encouraged to send high-resolution photos of their home libraries or bookshelves, along with a description of particular shelving challenges, quirks in sorting (alphabetically? by color?), number of books in the collection, and particular titles which are in the To-Be-Read pile.  Email for more information.

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