Many of them still contain the letters from the publishers stuck inside them.
The language is peppered with introductory adjectives, but otherwise it’s pretty swagger-free. It tiptoes around the prospect of greatness in a way that seems comical in retrospect — a reminder that no one was born a sure thing.
Imagine if I told you to place all of your hard objects in the bedroom and all of your soft objects in the bathroom. Which is why my library is what I call a “sentimental library.” A sentimental library is characterized by memory and association.
It’s the halfway point between alphabetical and aesthetic.
Believe me, it shocks no one more than me, who traffics in sarcasm, that I’m sitting here (literally, under an unlikely canopy of Lydia Millet and Charlie Smith) extolling the virtues of a sentimental library.
And as a person who renounces fads — no pastel pyramids for me, thank you — part of me still aspires to a more traditional approach. And it’s comforting to think that, like emotions themselves, books can be corralled by time and order.
Here are essay collections by David Sedaris, Joan Didion, Ian Frazier, Jenny Diski and Nora Ephron.
Here is fiction by Lorrie Moore, George Saunders and Richard Yates.
Susan Sontag, who arranged her books by literary tradition (e.g.
Russian literature) and then chronology, would scoff at my mushy method.