Books · My Thoughts

My Bookshelves: What Do They Reveal?

Stack of books - bookshelves

Bookshelves reveal so much about a person. All my life I’ve loved libraries and bookstores. The stacks of books, big and small, comfort my spirit, so I’ve created a mini version in our home. I have a very eclectic combination of titles, so I’d like to share my bookshelves with you.

One of my bookshelves
One of My Bookshelves

As an English major, I collected Norton’s Anthologies at Colorado State University, books three to four inches thick, forty years old, and I still can’t let them go. They feel like good old friends. While at the university, I added to that collection Milton and individual Shakespeare plays I studied in my upper level classes. I have one Louis L’Amour book, Sachett, which we read in my Shakespeare class when we were reading Julius Caesar, comparing the two characters. I’ve revisited the Shakespeare’s plays over the years when I’ve wanted to renew my acquaintance with a specific play. Also, I have kept The Iliad of Homer and The Odyssey of Homer.

Because I studied the classics, I added Ernest Hemingway’s short stories, Walt Whitman’s poetry and T. S. Eliot’s poetry. This summer, I focused on Hemingway’s writings after watching the Ken Burns’ document. I read The Sun Also Rises and A Moveable Feast to sample one of his novels and his memoir, but I’ve labored long on his short story collections. It fascinates me how he can take a single moment in time and write it to the fullest. At the university, I studied Charles Dickens, and I’ve stored his books in our storage shed.

My other bookshelves
My other bookshelves

I love poetry. On my poetry shelf, I have several books by my favorite current poet, Mary Oliver. I also have several poetry collections, and a slim Emily Dickinson book highlighting her special poetry. I also have a local Mexican poet, Jimmy Santiago Baca’s book, Martín & Meditations on the South Valley.

Being in the Southwest, I love reading books about Native Americans. I have two classics, Bury My Heart at Wounded Knee and Black Elk Speaks. Surprisingly, you won’t see my favorite author, Tony Hillerman’s books on my shelf because my husband has them on his. Several years ago, I collected the Don Coldsmith’s Spanish Bit Saga series with rich stories about the Plains Indians dating back to the Spaniards coming here.

One of my favorite educational professional development workshop was the Latin America Database Workshop, and I gathered a nice collection of Latin writers like Eduardo Galeano and Rigoberto Menchú.

Over my years in recovery, my bookshelves dedicated to this vital part of my life have grown, but my mainstay is Alcoholics Anonymous. I have many other books addressing alcoholism, codependency, family of origin issues, and incest.

Because of my wide reading in recovery, I met Pema Chodron, a Buddhist nun, and stockpiled several of her books on my bookshelves. My favorite is When Things Fall Apart. I also learned about Rumi, a 13th-century Persian poet, in my recovery wanderings and have a collection of his poetry.

One of my largest collections is my religious books. I have an assortment of Bibles, commentaries and study aides. My favorite commentary is the William Barclay’s The Daily Study Bible Series on the New Testament. I read one of these daily.

Included in my religious collection is C. S. Lewis’ The Narnia Tales, which I reread last summer after a forty-year break. How delightful that was to revisit Narnia and get reacquainted with Aslan.

As a middle school English teacher, I collected so many books over the years to have available in my classroom for my students, but I have given most of them away. I kept limited books from teaching years like Anne Frank, The Diary of a Young Girl and books about her life. Also, I have all the Harry Potter books, but they’re in my husband’s library. I will never forget seeing a small sixth grader carrying around his copy of one of the Potter books and it was almost as big as he was!

My professional library of books addressed class managing and other education topics, and you guessed it—writing! But I gave most of them away, except for Jonathan Kozol’s Savage Inequality, a book telling the sad tale of the inequality of education across the United States.

As a writer, I’ve gathered writing books for many years. Natalie Goldberg’s Writing Down the Bones heads my list of Nat’s, but I have several of her books. I used that book in teaching writing to my middle school students, changing my attitude towards writing. It freed me up to see myself as a writer, and many of my students did the same. Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way changed my life many years ago with her tool, Morning Pages. I still do them every morning.

To date, I also have an extensive digital library on Kindle, iBooks and Kobo. I joined the digital world with reluctance at first. But now, I enjoy using my iPad to read a book, especially when we’re traveling.

Recently, as I looked at my bookshelves, I saw several books I bought, put on the shelf and never read. I decided it was time to read them, so I’m working my way through those titles right now.

In conclusion, I hope you’ve enjoyed your travels through my personal library. What you see here is a wide range of interests and flavors—that’s me! I believe in diversity and a multitude of possibilities.

What do your bookshelves look like if you have a personal library? What are your favorite books?


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Ireland & England · My Thoughts · Travel

Day 14 – Tour Day: Stratford-upon-Avon, Warwick Castle & Oxford

When we first started our plans for this trip, I knew in my heart of hearts that I must go to William Shakespeare’s birthplace and home–Stratford-upon-Avon. I was an English major in college and took upper level Shakespeare classes from a world renowned professor at Colorado State University. Some semesters I lived, eat and breathed Shakespeare, so this was a dream come true.

Immediately, I knew our day was off to a right start. After our regular big English breakfast and trip on the Tube to Victoria Station to meet up with our tour bus, we had a fantastic tour guide, Ann- Marie Walker. This was our first tour day out of London and she quickly shared pertinent information about sights and streets in London as we passed–she didn’t waste a moment. We passed Harrod’s and red double-decker tour buses. Her knowledge was amazing.

Soon after leaving London and the city life, we traveled by lush green pastures fenced off with rock walls with cattle grazing and golden wheat fields.

When we arrived in Stratford-upon-Avon, we went straight to the Guild Hall where William attended classes. Emotions overcame me, and I cried–I was standing where William Shakespeare had gone to class. Ann-Marie said she wished more people enjoyed this as much as I did.

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The Guild Hall and Shakespeare’s Classroom in Stratford-upon-Avon

At the Guild Hall, we sat in on a classroom with a teacher dressed in full period garb who treated us as Shakespeare would have been treated. The grade levels were mixed and the older students helped the younger students.

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The Teacher in Shakespeare’s Classroom

We walked by where Shakespeare’s last home was, but it had been leveled.

I loved the main street, lined with hanging colorful flowers. Mimes entertained the people as the passed.

From there we went to Shakespeare’s home where he was born.

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Larada in Shakespeare’s Home

We continued our walk through downtown and what a festive atmosphere. I enjoyed one specific mime. We passed him once and then came back by–how amazing they are to stand perfectly still yet communicate with you. He and I had fun playing with each other.

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This Mime Flirted With Me!

We took a break and I had a rhubarb pastry and latte at a Cornish bakery–absolutely delicious! Lin shopped for sweets and our time ended there–my most favorite part of our trip so far!

From there we bussed to Warwick Castle, “a medieval castle developed from an original built by William the Conqueror in 1068.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Warwick_Castle)

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Warwick Castle

Lin and I toured the State Rooms together, then Lin went exploring on his own. We had a limited time there and I didn’t want to rush. He towered the tower, the gaol and the dungeon. I leisurely shopped and took pictures of the courtyard and enjoyed the day.

The courtyard was brimming with people dressed in period costumes–Lin found one fair maiden.

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What a fair maiden!

Here I am outside the castle in stocks!

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In stocks for sure!

From Warwick Castle we drove through the Cotswolds to Oxford. The Cotswolds is “an area in south central England containing the Cotswold Hills, a range of rolling hills which rise from the meadows of the upper Thames to an escarpment, known as the Cotswold Edge, above the Severn Valley and Evesham Vale. The area is defined by the bedrock of Jurassic limestone that creates a type of grassland habitat rare in the UK and that is quarried for the golden coloured Cotswold stone.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cotswolds)

We passed by fields of verdant pastures with sheep grazing and wheat fields. We saw thatched roof houses in small villages. Ann-Marie told us that the villages were expensive to live in and that thatched roofs were coming back. It was delightful afternoon’s drive where I reveled in the scenery.

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The Cotswolds

Our final stop for the day was Oxford–the city of bicycles! Ann-Marie warned us to be cautious about the bicyclists, not the drivers.

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Bikes, bikes and more bikes!

Oxford is “known worldwide as the home of the University of Oxford, the oldest university in the English-speaking world.[9] Buildings in Oxford demonstrate notable examples of every English architectural period since the late Saxon period. Oxford is known as the “city of dreaming spires”, a term coined by poet Matthew Arnold.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Oxford). There are 38 colleges as a part of the University of Oxford.

We toured around Christ Church, “a constituent college of the University of Oxford in England. Christ Church is a joint foundation of the college and the Cathedral of the Oxford diocese (Christ Church Cathedral and its Cathedral School), which serves as the college chapel and whose dean is ex officio the college head.” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Christ_Church,_Oxford)

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Christ Church

After our outside tour of Christ Church, we shopped and enjoyed the downtown area. Our first tour day outside of London was a smashing success. Exhausted and full of travel stories, we traveled back on the Tube to our hotel and relaxed in our room. We thoroughly enjoyed Ann-Marie and sights of the day.

Have you ever been to a place that brought you to tears? Share a comment below.

Check out my web site at:  https://www.laradasbooks.com

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