My bookshelf started when I was just getting into high school. My cousin was leaving for college, and she was desperately trying to get rid of many things in her room so she didn’t leave a bunch of her stuff in her mother’s house. I remember my cousin inviting us over (well, me specifically) because she knew I loved books.

I still do. I’m a complete nightmare whenever I walk into a Barnes and Noble, and I almost cried tears of happiness when I walked into Powell’s Book Store for the first time. But, at the time my cousin invited us over, I didn’t have my own personal bookshelf. We had one bookshelf in our house, one that was crammed full, but not quite to overflowing. Every time I had gotten a new book for the holidays, I would add it to the books on that shelf, usually not in proper alphabetical order.

My cousin led us down the stairs to their ominous basement to a corner room, and I stared in amazement at the most beautiful bedroom I had ever seen. Sure, the bed was gone, and the bags were packed, but there was this most glorious pile of books in the corner. I don’t remember exactly how many there were, just that there were a lot.

My cousin and I sat on the floor as we looked through each of her books, deciding which ones I would take home with me. I would have taken them all home with me, but I only had one cardboard box and neither me nor my mom could carry so many books up the basement stairs. I listened carefully to what my cousin said about each book, and why she liked it so much that she kept it on her own personal bookshelf, away from the rest of her family’s books.

Something else amazed me about what she said. It wasn’t just the stories she remembered; she also told me about what was happening in her life when she read that book, if her mom had read her that book, etc. It wasn’t just the great words in the novels she remembered; it was also the precious memories she made with her family and friends while reading them.

I left that day with an overflowing cardboard box. As soon as Mom and I got home, I carried the box to my room and went straight to one of my white shelves. One was crammed full of the many journals I spent so much time writing stories in, the other held some stuffed animals, knick-knacks, and other small things. I cleared off everything and started alphabetizing the books I had. The books she gave me hardly filled up two rows on my small bookshelf, but I had an overwhelming sense of joy as I sat on the floor and peered at all the books I had, my own books. Books that told more than just a simple story, but also reflected something about me.

Over the years, I’ve given a few of my cousin’s books back, but I’ve kept the majority of them. When I took them originally, the two of us agreed that I would give them back to her once she was out of college and settled down, but I quietly kept that promise to myself, hoping she wouldn’t remember. The thought of giving back her books which I have held near to my heart was not something I wanted to accept.

It was not until recently that my cousin announced that she was moving away, and she requested her books back so she could sell them at her yard sale to make money. Upon seeing the love I had grown for her books, she said I could just keep them, but my guilt told me I at least had to pay her since she was trying to raise money to move. I paid her a total of five dollars to be able to keep the 28 of her books I had left.


What started off as a small, single shelf with only 28 books, give or take, on it has grown to three packed shelves with 204 books crammed onto them. And, it keeps growing! Almost every time I walk into a book store, or when I go to a writer’s conference to learn of the craft, I pick up a new book. But, with each book, I also pick up my own story. So, I hope you enjoy my silly blog about my forever evolving bookshelf! Each week, I will pick a different book from my shelf, share my own personal story about it, and tell you my overall opinion of it. I’m always on the hunt for new books, too, so please feel free to discuss books and suggest new ones to me! I’m always in the mood to talk about books.

~Bailey Day