Peek at the Ideal Bookshelves of 10 Famous Readers


If you’re a frequent visitor to this space, you already know that we think your books can say a lot about you. After all, in a world full of cheap entertainment, may of us would consider the tomes we choose to read — and more importantly, keep — as reflections of some part of ourselves. Even if (sometimes) it’s a part we don’t like very much. To that end, Thessaly LaForce and Jane Mount have created My Ideal Bookshelf , a wonderful volume that celebrates the favorite books of notable figures from David Sedaris to James Franco to Tony Hawk, creating a portrait of each figure in — you guessed it — books. Not only do we love the simple, cheery art, but we also relish the chance to peek onto the bookshelves of some very interesting people. After the jump, check out ten images from the book accompanied by notes from LaForce about working with her subjects, and let us know what you think in the comments!

Chuck Klosterman

“When I interviewed Chuck Klosterman, I was fascinated by how his mind works. He has a million ideas and he’s a natural storyteller. He sees the Warren Commission Report as a first draft of history, and once you look at it that way, it’s impossible to disagree.”

Jonathan Lethem

“Jonathan Lethem is obsessed with rare books. And his shelf reflects the pure pleasure one can have browsing used bookstores. Each of these books tells a different story. Shipwrecked, for example, is a title Graham Greene was forced to use by his American publisher before he became, well, Graham Greene. An incredible momento.”

Jo Ann Beard

“I have always been a huge fan of Jo Ann’s writing. But her bookshelf made me love her even more. She is so clearly an animal lover. I love the way Updike’s Rabbit books play against titles like My Friend the Dog and The Yearling.”

Rosanne Cash

“Rosanne is a reader, a writer, and a musician, and so her books could have gone in any direction, but overall, to me, what is so impressive about her bookshelf is the way it reveals a curious mind and an open heart.”

Jennifer Egan

“I adore Jennifer Egan’s writing, and to see that the books she adores are these — Don Juan, Middlemarch, Underworld, The House of Mirth. I mean, these books will and have stood the test of time. Egan made me see how I need to be reading more deeply and intensely.”

James Franco

“We tried to tell everyone to pick just 10-15 books, but James Franco could not limit himself! I think it’s great. It’s just like everything he does. And I’d almost always want too much to do in life, and not the other way around.”

Tony Hawk

“Tony Hawk went for the playful approach. A lot of the titles riff off one another. “Dead” “Endurance” Please Kill Me, “Fear,” “Trouble”–all words that appear on the spines of his books. What do you expect from the most badass skateboarder?”

Maira Kalman

“Maira told Jane that she hated when people told her what to paint, so she and Jane picked out these books together. Maira has the most beautiful book collection I have ever seen, and I have no doubt it took awhile and was also super, super fun. Her shelves are full of neat discoveries, like that painted piece of cardboard made to resemble a cell phone.”

Zachary Kanin

“I think Zach is super funny, and while I don’t think it’s very easy to be super funny and write jokes, I do believe that if you read all of these books you’d be one step closer to seeing how a New Yorker cartoonist thinks.”

David Sedaris

“Well, what to say about the great David Sedaris? He is such a wonderful man, I am just so happy he is in the book. I love the way he talks about Dorothy Parker. People find her funny, but he finds her sad, heartbreaking. And he believes that humor needs to cling to something in order for it to be funny. When I read his own writing, I think about that.”