My Ideal Bookshelf: Memphis Edition

Sponsored by Burke's Book Store

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Steve Masler’s Ideal Bookshelf (most meaningful and life-changing, not the desert Island list)

The Electric Koolaid Acid Test, Tom Wolf

The Hero With a Thousand Faces, Joseph Campbell

On the Road, Jack Kerouac

Moby Dick, Herman Melville

Frankenstein, Mary Shelley

Belle Canto, Ann Patchett

Crime and Punishment, Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Slaughterhouse-Five, Kurt Vonnegut

A Prayer for Owen Meany, John Irving

The Odyssey, Homer


No single book has been more influential in the way in which I interpret things than The Hero With a Thousand Faces. In reviewing the books on my list, and even the books I was forced to remove, each of them could be interpreted by Campbell’s monomythic cycle. I was astounded when I discovered Campbell in graduate school in anthropology and incredulously wondered why this wasn’t required reading by every anthropologist. Luckily my persistence (whining) caused one kind professor to allow me to create three separate independent study classes to indulge my curiosity. Everything book I’ve read since, every church service I’ve attended, every life trial that I’ve experienced has been viewed through my interpretive lens of the hero’s cycle. 

I am currently hoping that I come out on the victorious side of the cycle as the Manager of Exhibits at the the Memphis Pink Palace Museum. I have been lucky to have been the Chief Curator of the Wonders Series and the Director of the Mississippi River Museum.

 

 

 

 

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Caroline Mitchell Carrico Ideal Bookshelf:

The Three Musketeers by Alexandre Dumas

The Chosen by Chaim Potok

American Gods by Neil Gaiman 

The Structure of Scientific Revolutions by Thomas Kuhn

What is the What by Dave Eggers 

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J.K. Rowling

I Have Lived a Thousand Years by Livia Bitton-Jackson

Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn

People of the Book by Geraldine Brooks 

Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith by Anne Lamott 

My name is Caroline Mitchell Carrico, and I work in the exhibits department at the Pink Palace Museum. Each of these books (fiction and nonfiction alike) have fundamentally altered the way that I understand the world by making me think critically about how I define myself and how I construct knowledge. 

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Fredric Koeppel Ideal Bookshelf:
Selected Poems Wallace Stevens
The Poems of Emily Dickinson
Leaves of Grass Walt Whitman
Shakespeare’s Sonnets
The Lice W.S. Merwin
Illuminations Arthur Rimbaud
The Complete Poems of Elizabeth Bishop
John Keats (Oxford Authors)
Selected Poems Osip Mandelstam
Complete Poems, Selected Letters and Prose of Hart Crane

Fredric Koeppel Ideal Bookshelf:

  • Selected Poems Wallace Stevens
  • The Poems of Emily Dickinson
  • Leaves of Grass Walt Whitman
  • Shakespeare’s Sonnets
  • The Lice W.S. Merwin
  • Illuminations Arthur Rimbaud
  • The Complete Poems of Elizabeth Bishop
  • John Keats (Oxford Authors)
  • Selected Poems Osip Mandelstam
  • Complete Poems, Selected Letters and Prose of Hart Crane

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My Ideal Bookshelf- Liz Upchurch

The Chosen by Chaim Potok

A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle

Atonement by Ian McEwan

The Giver by Lois Lowry

The Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

Liz Upchurch is a pediatric speech-language pathologist in Memphis.

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Ideal Bookshelf - Kimberly Richardson

The Unicorn by Iris Murdoch

The Dream of Scipio by Iain Pears

The Mandarins by Simone de Beauvoir

Swann’s Way by Marcel Proust

Beloved by Toni Morrison

Night and Day by Virginia Woolf

Women of the Silk by Gail Tsukiyama

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

The Colour Purple by Alice Walker

You Can’t Go Home Again by Thomas Wolfe

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My best friend painted this as a gift for my 25th birthday. Ten of my all-time favorites and pretty damn close to my ideal bookshelf. If I could sneak in an eleventh, it’d be T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land.
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Franny and Zooey by JD Salinger
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
The Stranger by Albert Camus


A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce

It’s a beautiful mix of novels and novellas that changed my life growing up and those that have shaped the way I think and write myself. Most of them are even the very same editions I’ve held dear for years.
My name is Charlotte Hassen and I’m a Memphis native who spent many high school afternoons sifting through the Burke’s bookshelves.

My best friend painted this as a gift for my 25th birthday. Ten of my all-time favorites and pretty damn close to my ideal bookshelf. If I could sneak in an eleventh, it’d be T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land.

The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Franny and Zooey by JD Salinger
The Scarlet Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne
On the Road by Jack Kerouac
The Stranger by Albert Camus
A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man by James Joyce

It’s a beautiful mix of novels and novellas that changed my life growing up and those that have shaped the way I think and write myself. Most of them are even the very same editions I’ve held dear for years.

My name is Charlotte Hassen and I’m a Memphis native who spent many high school afternoons sifting through the Burke’s bookshelves.

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Mary K VanGieson Ideal Bookshelf
1. Postcards – E. Annie Proulx
2. Goodnight Moon – Margaret Wise Brown
3. Cat’s Eye – Margaret Atwood
4. The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver
5. A Thousand Acres – Jane Smiley
6. The Niagara River, poems – Kay Ryan
7. Train Dreams – Denis Johnson
8. The Life of Pi – Yann Martel
9. Animal Farm – George Orwell
10. Let the Great World Spin – Colum McCann
Mary K VanGieson, artist, educator, reader & sometime writer 


Mary K VanGieson Ideal Bookshelf

1. Postcards – E. Annie Proulx

2. Goodnight Moon – Margaret Wise Brown

3. Cat’s Eye – Margaret Atwood

4. The Poisonwood Bible – Barbara Kingsolver

5. A Thousand Acres – Jane Smiley

6. The Niagara River, poems – Kay Ryan

7. Train Dreams – Denis Johnson

8. The Life of Pi – Yann Martel

9. Animal Farm – George Orwell

10. Let the Great World Spin – Colum McCann

Mary K VanGieson, artist, educator, reader & sometime writer 

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Burton Carley Ideal Bookshelf

  1. The New Oxford Annotated Bible, Revised Standard Version
  2. Moby Dick by Herman Melville
  3. The Essays of Ralph Waldo Emerson
  4. Night by Elie Wiesel
  5. Holy the Firm by Annie Dillard
  6. Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor F. Frankl
  7. Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain
  8. The Kingdom Within by John A. Sanford
  9. Walden and  Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau
  10. The Old Man and the Sea by Ernest Hemingway

Burton Carley, Pastor, First Unitarian Church of the River

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Dolph and Jessie Smith Ideal Bookshelf

Dolph Smith:

  • Watership Down by Richard Adams
  • The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman  (last read)
  • Seabiscuit by Laura Hillenbrand (which led to)
  • Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand
  • The Road To Wellville by T. Coraghessan Boyle
  • A Prayer For Owen Meany by John Irving
  • The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
  • Snow Falling On Cedars by David Guterson
  • At Home by Bill Bryson
  • Where The Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

Jessie Smith:

  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
  • Stones From The River by Ursula Hegi
  • Snow Falling On Cedars by David Guterson
  • Man’s Search For Meaning by Viktor Frankl
  • On Gardening/One Man’s Garden/Any Day/The Essential Earthman by Henry Mitchell
  • The Zookeeper’s Wife by Diane Ackerman
  • The Art of Eating by M.F.K. Fisher
  • Writing Down The Bones by Natalie Greenberg
  • The Chosen by Chaim Potok
  • The World According To Garp by John Irving

Artist Dolph Smith and his wife Jessie live on a farm in Ripley, TN.

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A daunting task, to chose only ten, but here it is. I will no doubt look at this list again with regret for unchosen beloved volumes.

1. W. B. Yeats, Collected Works, Vol. 1, The Poems. This is my second copy of WBY; I still have the first, where the binding has come undone from the spine.
2. Robert Penn Warren, New and Selected Poems 1923-1985. Warren is another longtime constant in my reading life. Here, I especially like the section “Audubon: A Vision,” originally a book in itself.
3. Seamus Heaney, Beowulf. Heaney’s mastery of his craft and love of language are inspiring in themselves, and this is a fine story besides. Like most good reading, it takes you to a place and time apart, somewhere you haven’t been. 
4. Henry David Thoreau, Walden and Other Writings. The beginning of my love of nature writing, and still one of the all-time best examples of how to see things closely, take unconventional perspectives, and write stunning descriptions.
5. James Jones, From Here to Eternity. As a young man in my 20s and early 30s, this book helped me understand and accept marginal people, chiefly myself. 
6. Wendell Berry, A Place on Earth. Here, I found characters and ways of life that were much like people who were my recent ancestors, and it was almost like remembering events, places, and an everyday context from a time before my birth.
7. Loren Eiseley, The Immense Journey. Eiseley weaves observation and reflection about the natural world, and the long history of life, and how interconnected it all is. 
8. Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac. Among the first to understand an ecology as an interconnected whole. There’s a short, deeply moving essay, “Thinking Like a Mountain,” describing an early encounter with a wolf. 
9. Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. Another keen observer of the natural world, whose vision of that world’s ability to stun, surprise, and delight doesn’t leave out the outrageous. 
10. Karen Armstrong, The Case for God. Armstrong’s history of how people have thought about the sacred, and what some of them have discovered, or maybe just experienced. My own interest in the nature of religion, and its effects in the world, is lifelong.

Paul Cook retired from Memphis City Schools a few months ago. He reads, writes a blog called Only Ourselves, walks, sings a little, and motorcycles a little.   

A daunting task, to chose only ten, but here it is. I will no doubt look at this list again with regret for unchosen beloved volumes.

1. W. B. Yeats, Collected Works, Vol. 1, The Poems. This is my second copy of WBY; I still have the first, where the binding has come undone from the spine.

2. Robert Penn Warren, New and Selected Poems 1923-1985. Warren is another longtime constant in my reading life. Here, I especially like the section “Audubon: A Vision,” originally a book in itself.

3. Seamus Heaney, Beowulf. Heaney’s mastery of his craft and love of language are inspiring in themselves, and this is a fine story besides. Like most good reading, it takes you to a place and time apart, somewhere you haven’t been. 

4. Henry David Thoreau, Walden and Other Writings. The beginning of my love of nature writing, and still one of the all-time best examples of how to see things closely, take unconventional perspectives, and write stunning descriptions.

5. James Jones, From Here to Eternity. As a young man in my 20s and early 30s, this book helped me understand and accept marginal people, chiefly myself. 

6. Wendell Berry, A Place on Earth. Here, I found characters and ways of life that were much like people who were my recent ancestors, and it was almost like remembering events, places, and an everyday context from a time before my birth.

7. Loren Eiseley, The Immense Journey. Eiseley weaves observation and reflection about the natural world, and the long history of life, and how interconnected it all is. 

8. Aldo Leopold, A Sand County Almanac. Among the first to understand an ecology as an interconnected whole. There’s a short, deeply moving essay, “Thinking Like a Mountain,” describing an early encounter with a wolf. 

9. Annie Dillard, Pilgrim at Tinker Creek. Another keen observer of the natural world, whose vision of that world’s ability to stun, surprise, and delight doesn’t leave out the outrageous. 

10. Karen Armstrong, The Case for God. Armstrong’s history of how people have thought about the sacred, and what some of them have discovered, or maybe just experienced. My own interest in the nature of religion, and its effects in the world, is lifelong.

Paul Cook retired from Memphis City Schools a few months ago. He reads, writes a blog called Only Ourselves, walks, sings a little, and motorcycles a little.