Posted by: penpatience | October 1, 2018





WRITERS WORDS: “He who owns books and loves them is wise.” –Roger Duvoisin




Fall is falling again!  It’s that time of year for the annual bookcase clean-out and precious treasures dust-off. I’m sure some readers might consider this a dreaded task; for me it’s a labor of love. The main bookcase has five shelves and the procedure is to stack the books and accompanying memorabilia in separate stacks on the floor. I attack the wood with Murphy’s oil cleaner, the easy part of the job. The difficult decision is what books to keep, share with the library, donate to charity or (oh my heart!) just discard in the recycle bin. Historically, very few books have left the shelves to make room for new keepsakes. Truthfully, I cannot remember when I last recycled a book.

Here’s the problem. Every time I dust and must decide on a book’s status, I begin to reminisce. I picked up a first book. “There Are No Children Here,” the story of two boys growing up in the other America by Alex Kotlowitz. Mr. Kotlowitz writes about urban affairs and social issues for The Wall Street Journal. His story about two boys growing up in a public housing complex in Chicago disfigured by crime and neglect is heartbreaking but an ultimately inspiring story. I wrote on the inside cover my name and the date August 17, 1991 with a note to myself in 2010: “A keeper, one of my “favorites. I wrote a paper on it.”  No question. Back on the shelf!  On to the next…”Presumed Innocent” by Scott Turow with a date of purchase: August 18, 1987.  Hmmm…how many times have I read this book and seen the movie? No, I can’t part with it. Okay, here’s a novel some of you might not know or remember, but the author was one of my Dad’s favorites–“Riders of the Purple Sage,” by Zane Grey. It was Zane Grey’s all time classic and he has been called the greatest novelist of the American West. The note on the inside cover said I purchased it on May 2012 while traveling with my daughter in Payson, Arizona. Original cover price was $3.99. I picked it up at an antique shop/flea market for $2.00.  I wonder if a writer today would pen this sentence: “You can’t save him now,” replied Tull, stridently.” (How can I pick on Zane Grey because I don’t like the adverb?)  You know the answer to this one. Dog-eared and worn-looking, it’s going back on the shelf.

Here are a few more of my favorites that will remain with me till “death do us part.”

“Catch Me If You Can,” by Frank W. Abagnale, Jr. (He autographed the book for me when he spoke at a conference I attended.)

“My American Journey,” by Colin Powell with Joseph E. Persico

“Swim with The Sharks, without being eaten alive” By Harvey McKay

“The Bridges of Madison County,” by Robert James Waller

“Empire Falls,” by Richard Russo

“The Glass Castle, Half Broke Horses,” two memoirs by Jeanette Walls

“Queen,” by Alex Haley

There are too many keepsakes to list here, but I did choose a few to share with the library:

“Border Music,” by Robert James Waller

“Women & World Religions,” by Denise Lardner Carmody

“The Leadership Secrets of Santa Claus” (I have two copies)


One shelf is dedicated to books on the writing craft. Many times I’ve been tempted to pitch the entire “kit and caboodle” into a dumpster when writing hasn’t gone well or a rejection missile arrives in my e-mail. Discouragement aside, I’ve not yet tossed the books! Here are a few cherished writing craft books that are forever entrenched on the shelf:

“On Writing Well” – William Zinsser; “Fire Up Your Fiction” – Jodie Renner; “Self-Editing for Fiction Writers” – Renni Browne & David King; “Just Write” – James Scott Bell; “Bird By Bird” – Anne Lamont; “On Writing” – Stephen King; “Super Structure-The key to Unleashing the power of story” –James Scott Bell; “On Becoming a Novelist” – John Gardner

Last but not least is the bottom “everything” shelf. Although technology has somewhat done away with hard copy dictionaries, I’ve retained two hard cover Collier’s Dictionaries and their Junior Classic collection minus a few  shared with my children I ask myself why I do this chore every year when I rarely discard many reading treasures. I comfort myself knowing, at least, I’ve removed an annual accumulation of dust-bunnies.  However, there is no maintenance required to clean up my E-reader Library—I just hit “Delete:)

Readers, share with me a special book that is a keeper in your Library. I’m always seeking a few new treasures to add to my special shelves.




  1. A FEW KEEPER BOOKS . . . From Recent years’ reading

    Trilogy by Jo Jo Moyes
    Me Before You, After You, Still Me

    Anita Diamante
    The Red Tent

    Marie Semple
    Where Did You Go Bernadette?

    Joanne Harris
    Chocolat: a novel

    Armor Towles
    A Gentleman in Moscow: a novel

    All of the PG Wodehouse Jeeves & Wooster books


    • Thanks Diane, I’m looking forward to adding these to my reading list.


  2. Great blog! I treasure my Dick Francis book collection and my Complete Harry Potter set. But there are also too many special books to name!


    • I know. you know I don’t have Harry Potter…shame on me:)


  3. Great post! As with every writer, sooo many books, and sooo many that have special meaning. I’ve got almost all of Anne McCaffery’s Pern novels, because the first fantasy book I read was Dragonsinger. Other keepers include all the print books by my writing sisters, the children’s book my mom gave me years ago, and a German cookbook published in the early 1900s and belonged to my great-grandmother. You reminded me I need to go through all my books again and decide which ones to share with the library.

    Have a great week!


    • I know. Thanks for the feedback. Always when I peruse the special books, they bring back happy memories.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s


%d bloggers like this: