Skip to content

Hazel & Wren Staff Shelfie: Jessica Mayer

2015 September 17
by Jessica Mayer

Editor’s Note: Dear readers – today, we take a break from the normally scheduled What We’re Reading reviews to share with you another one of our shelfies. Aaron shared his here, Wren shared hers last week here, and we’ll have more shelfies from other staff coming up in the next few weeks. Read on, into our dear, writerly souls.

So, full disclosure — I busted out the dust rag in preparation for this post.

I have two (usually dusty) bookshelves in what would be considered my dining room, which I realize is not the most classic arrangement, but alas, I’m an apartment dweller so I make do with the space that I have. The larger of the two was handmade by my father and has since been painted in a weird shade of sage green.


There is a second, smaller book shelf opposite this one, but for the sake of time and space I’m going to leave the details of that shelf out of this post. The smaller shelf contains books like Detroit Redwings: The Illustrated History, and since everyone reading this post probably owns a copy of that book already, I say we needn’t worry about it here.

Back to the big green bookshelf. The lowest shelf has my really weird thrift store finds, like Opening to Channel, The Extended Circle, and an encyclopedia of psychic terms. You never know when that will come in handy! The remainder of the shelf is mostly poetry collections. There are individual collections from poets like Yeats and Thomas, Collins and Kooser, Sharon Olds, Federico Garcia Lorca, Wisława Szymborska, and Tracy K. Smith. There are also plentiful poetry anthologies and periodicals like Poetry and Whetstone. And, since I spend as much time pretending to be a photographer as I do a writer, there are also a good number of photography books.


There’s a nondescript blue book called A Book of Poetry 2 that I purchased secondhand (or thirdhand or fourthhand) many years ago. It’s torn and dog-eared and highlighted. The long-ago purchase of this modest looking book fueled my budding interest in poetry, and I still like to take it down and look at my faded margin notes about things that seemed exciting and foreign when I first read it — things like iambic pentameters. Which, to be fair, can still get my heart racing.

IMG_5704 (1)

The top shelf has a special (and very small) section for books about cats, because doesn’t everyone have a cat section in their personal library that’s sandwiched by An Introduction to Poetry and Kooser’s The Poetry Home Repair Manual? 


Let’s just take a moment to appreciate that my shelf includes a book called Glamourpuss: The Enchanting World of Kitty Wigs. (Link to book included so you don’t have to Google that somewhat suspect-sounding phrase yourself. I promise it really is just a book about cats wearing wigs.) To give credit where credit’s due (or to save face — ha! Sorry, boyfriend), Glamourpuss actually belongs to my significant other. Ditto for the tome about the Detroit Red Wings, in case you hadn’t guessed.


Opposite the kitty wig chronicles, I have a small but growing section of books I’ve reviewed for Hazel & Wren’s  “What We’re Reading” column, less the ones on loan to friends and relatives. Nick Lantz’s How to Dance as the Roof Caves In remains a favorite of mine.


There are various other places throughout my apartment where books seem to collect: the 15th edition of the Chicago Manual of Style acts as a bedroom door barricade against curious feline roommates and an unabridged dictionary make a nice houseplant stand. A sizable stack of books have made their home on my nightstand, too. There’s a really beat up copy of Nineteen Eighty-Four, a massive Hunter S. Thompson anthology that I’ve never touched, CAConrad’s ECODEVIANCE: (Soma)tics for the Future Wilderness (on loan from the one and only Timothy), Michael Mlekoday’s The Dead Eat Everything, Eileen Lorsung’s Her Bookand Patricia Kirkpatrick’s Odessa. I also have a (signed!) copy of Joyce Carol Oates’ recent collection of stories, Lovely, Dark, Deep


I’ve downsized my collection with every move, only to build it back up again. I’ll move again in six months and probably throw some of these books into the Little Free Library next door. As always, it will be bittersweet. But unless I plan to ask my dad for another bookshelf, it’s the only way to make room for more.


2 Responses
  1. September 17, 2015

    Let me know what you think of ECODEVIANCE! Éireann Lorsung’s Her Book is great, as is her first book, Music For Landing Planes By. I’d love to hear your thoughts when you get to that one, too.

  2. Catherine permalink
    September 17, 2015

    YES Tracy K. Smith! And meh, to be honest, to JCO’s Lovely, Dark, Deep. I can only read the exact same themes for every short story so many times before I just don’t care anymore.

Comments are closed.