Selected Shorts: Personal Libraries

Every time I move my personal library shifts. I donate books, give others away to friends, and the most important ones I hold on to. I have boxed endless volumes and carried them up endless flights of stairs: a cavalcade of Best American Short Story collections, Tintin comics, four different editions of Jane Eyre, dictionaries upon dictionaries, books signed by friends and authors I’ve waited in line for, Cervantes and Tolstoy, Barthleme and Borges, Hempel and O’Connor, The Elements of Style,my Biology and Zoology textbooks, and a slim edition of Auden. Each book kept and shelved has a reason for being there. A story behind it. But what about the other books I’ve read? All the library books I’ve enjoyed and returned, books I’ve perused in bookstores, books given away or borrowed? Those books may not be physically with me anymore, but sometimes I can feel their ghosts. In her graphic novel, The Night Bookmobile, (performed by Christina Pickles on this week’s Selected Shorts), Audrey Niffeneger imagines a complete personal library–full of everything her narrator has ever read–newspapers and receipts and diaries and of course, all of her books. Taken together, they tell the story of her life, as well as the life she did not lead because she was reading. The second story on this week’s show also follows a woman on a mysterious adventure–from a traffic jam in downtown Tokyo into a strange, alternative world: 1Q84.  This opening from Haruki Murakami’s new and much talked-about novel is performed by Miriam Silverman. The Selected Shorts site is still out of service, but you can listen in at WNYC or your local public radio station. And if you’re in New York this Wednesday night, I hope you’ll join me at a special live Selected Shorts performance featuring great actors reading work from One Story authors. For complete details and tickets, go here.