My Ideal Bookshelf


There’s a book that my in-laws got me for Christmas last year, that I absolutely cherish. They found this book recommendation on Dr. Russell Moore’s blog, and were correct to think that I needed this book. 

The idea is simple. Writers, chefs, reporters, designers, artists, and other people with a significant status within their occupation were asked to compile their ideal bookshelf and present a short blurb about why they chose these particular books. Jane Mount beautifully recreates these personalized bookshelves with her gorgeous paintings of the book spines. 

Having just finished the book, I was inspired to compile my own bookshelf. Some of them I don’t yet own, so I’ve been requesting them from the library for the last week or so. And since I’m not a painter, and Jane Mount isn’t likely to paint my shelf, I took a picture of my compiled all-time favorite books. Read on for my blurb. 


I never could have guessed how much fun it would be to collect all of my favorite books in one space! It felt like I had all of my best friends, past and present, in one room. You’ll notice quite a few history books in my collection, which may be odd since I’m not a historian. But I see history as more than old, grainy photos and faded portraits. Some authors can open history up the way Dorothy first opens the door to Oz, and next thing you know, you’re transported to a new world, making friends with people who you never thought could be just like you. 

I haven’t read all the Dickens novels in that meaty collection of his. But A Christmas Carol is by far my all-time favorite book of his. No movie could touch the splendor of redemption and Christmas cheer that his pen does (although The Muppet Christmas Carol comes closest). 

The Phantom Tollbooth, if I remember correctly, was the first “real book” I ever read. The words themselves were like pictures, and I’m so excited to share it with my kids one day. I’ve also got Bone: Out from Boneville up there. I discovered this series long before it became popular a few years ago. If you ever read this fantasy epic (which I highly encourage anyone with a sense of fun to do), do a little digging for the black-and-white version. It’s the real deal.

Mere Christianity and Colson’s Born Again are the best Christian books I’ve ever read. I don’t see how someone can remain an unbeliever after chewing on Lewis’s arguments in defense of Christianity, and the late Charles Colson gives the most raw, honest account of a testimony I’ve ever read. It also serves as a great history book as he served Nixon during the great Watergate scandal. 

I’m a huge Steinbeck fan, even though I haven’t read all of his books. But The Grapes of Wrath and Of Mice and Men are pure genius as far as “slower books” go. I can read them over and over and over. But (forgive me for this) if you want a heart-pulsing adventure novel that keeps you up all night, I have yet to come across one that is more suspenseful than The Man in the Box by yours truly. I’ve read Grisham and Koontz and King, but compared to Box, they lack a lot of opportunities for suspense that my book takes hold of. I’m currently editing it for it’s second edition, and even though I know how it ends, I’m still on the edge of my seat, and highly enjoying it.

And of course, no Pixar fan is truly a fan unless he’s got the history of Pixar in The Pixar Touch, and a few of the illustrated guides. I keep a pretty tight fist around my wallet, but when I saw To Infinity and Beyond: The Story of Pixar Animation Studios years back, I didn’t hesitate to drop close to $90 for it. Worth every penny, like when I bought The Office Season 1 without ever having seen it (the U.S. version), and my wife’s engagement ring. 

Let’s see YOUR ideal bookshelf! Post it on your blog and share the link below, or simply list some of your favorites in the comments section. 



About Andrew Toy
I'm in the beginning stages of starting my own publishing company that's unlike anything you've ever heard of in the industry. The direction of AdoptingJames is taking a 90-degree turn and will be more writing/publishing-focused. Stay tuned for huge updates and exciting news!

62 Responses to My Ideal Bookshelf

  1. Rebekah L. says:

    I’m don’t think I’ve ever seen a guy list Anne of Green Gables and Little Women as some of their favorites. Unbroken is one of the best books I’ve ever read. Love it.

  2. Erick says:

    Big CSLewis fan…my favorite of his is “Till We Have Faces”…very tragic story. Pretty much anything by Tolkien…”Silmarillion” was great as was “Children of Hurin”. “The Ragamuffin Gospel” by Brennan Manning is probably the book that solidified my Christianity. Have read “Crime and Punishment” by Dostoyevsky…barely got through that one!

  3. Isabelle Ostrich says:

    This is such a great idea, I’d love to give it a go!

  4. I think this is a real cool idea! Have you ever checked out the blog called fivereadsblog at I The owner is always seeking guest bloggers; you should consider submitting your post there (tweaked to the owners guidelines, of course). The concept is quite similar — it’s about five books that has inspired or change too. A great idea for all us book nerds 🙂

  5. Decisions, decisions. The problem is that there are so many authors and titles I feel should be on the shelf. As a matter of fact, I have many shelves, plus two baskets filled with books I cannot let go. Before I went into the Peace Corps, I gave away a hundred books to an organization that shipped them overseas to countries that needed books in English. They found new homes.

    • Books are a very hard thing to let go of. It’s great that you did that for them.

      • Expat Dad SG says:

        Books are to be read. I learnt that a while ago because I loved the idea of having a library and was building up the books. A few moves taught me that I should let them go and inspire others like they had inspired me. I now have books on the shelf but only about 2 or 3 aren’t there to be passed forward….

  6. Pingback: My Ideal Bookshelf | the most happy

  7. lisaloparo says:

    I loved this idea and decided to do one of my own! My Ideal Bookshelf–it was a lot of fun.

  8. leighmturner says:

    I think I’m really going to enjoy reading your blog.

  9. Dan Auiler says:

    Reblogged this on HITCHCOCK'S VERTIGO and commented:
    This is off topic, but I love these kind of essays. What would be on your bookshelf?

  10. SuperSandra says:

    I’m a sucker for Jane Austen. I fell in love with Pride and Prejudice when I was still very young. I’ve read it probably five times over the years. And Laurence Olivier made an absolutely gorgeous Mr. Darcy! Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier is also a long time love. In recent years, some of my favourites include The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho and The Prophet by Khalil Gibran. Thank you for sharing and for the great idea! I love it!

  11. A similar bookshelf for me, I must say. You have good taste 😀

  12. This is an awesome idea! 🙂 Also, I love your choice of books.

  13. Ann Cuddy says:

    Reblogged this on Titus 3:3 and commented:
    What’s On Your Bookself? I’ll be working on mine.l

  14. scribblyjoe says:

    Thanks for the follow. Very good taste on your picks. Steinbeck and Dickens would have to be on my list, and that Lewis book is superb. I haven’t read Bottom of the 33rd, but I’ll add it to my list! I recognize your book from the list for the upcoming Kentucky Book Fair. I’ll be there on the 16th too, and will try to hunt you down and say hey.

  15. Love the variety! Good for the heart, mind, and soul.

  16. suzjones says:

    I’d have to think about this because there are so many books that I love. I am a collector of books, but I’m slowly learning to let them go to others so that they can be read.
    There are a couple of books that I won’t let go though and they are ‘Watership Down’ and ‘The Chronicles of Narnia’. Love them. I also have the original paperback edition of ‘The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe’ that I was given when I was a child.

  17. Pingback: My Bookshelf | A Simple Point in Time

  18. This is an eclectic collection!

  19. lillia2014 says:

    What a wonderful idea!! Great books too…Thanks for the like, it’s really appreciated 🙂

  20. Marneymae says:

    hello & thank you for visiting my blog!
    this is a wonderful idea – the bookshelf
    thanks for sharing it
    and wishing you and your family in progress all good things

  21. rmedina49 says:

    Fantastic post, and blog!

  22. Quiller says:

    Reblogged this on alquiller.

  23. suite7beautytalk says:

    I like this post! What a great idea, I’ve had my faves book in a separate space on my bookshelf for some time so maybe I should share them on my blog, thanks for the inspiration!

  24. lausannedc says:

    I recently came across one of my early paintings (high school). The assignment was to do a still life that was a self portrait. Among the track shoes, hockey stick and table easel was a stack of books – mostly Shakespeare. It made me miss the days when we checked out a new friend by inspecting their bookshelves. Harder to get to know folks when their reading material is hidden away in their e-reader.

  25. Gede Prama says:

    Amazing and Thank you so much for sharing

  26. Francina says:

    Interesting choice of books. Thank you the follow 🙂

  27. Danielle says:

    Lovely post, it has gotten me thinking about my perfect bookshelf. I like how you loaned the books from the library to take the picture. I know for sure the Harry Potter collection will be on my shelf! 🙂

    • Just finished the first Harry Potter book and LOVED it! Very excited to read the rest. It’s great to see that an author has achieved high acclaim and actually deserves it.

  28. Pingback: The Books That Make Up A Life: My Ideal Bookshelf « Lore McSpadden

  29. Thanks for this post: it’s a great idea, and it was a blast putting together my ideal bookshelf! Here’s the link to my post:

  30. markkidesign says:

    LOVE what you said bout your PIXAR book! I’m also a fan, but haven’t yet bought the book. My secret career aspiration is to draw fur for a PIXAR movie. (Not such a secret anymore…) Thanks for sharing your favorite books. You inspired me!

    • Good! That’s a great aspiration! They say the fur and hair is the hardest to animate. I’m sure they could always use more willing people to tackle those shots. I’d love to write for them one day (and I know it’s very unlikely, but we can dream, right?), so maybe we’ll cross paths in front of their cereal bar!

  31. mrsgillies says:

    I think my favourite non fiction book is Wild At Heart by John Eldridge.

  32. Pingback: “How Well He’s Read, To Reason Against Reading!” | Isabelle Ostrich

  33. sowingmercy says:

    I still have a hardcover boxed set of the LOR trilogy, which I bought when I was 18…..36 years ago. The Good Earth by Pearl Buck, The Poetry of Robert Frost, Complete and Unabridged, The Bible, Quilts Quilts Quilts!, The Grapes of Wrath, etc. This is a very cool idea. I’ll have to look at my bookshelves to see what else.

  34. Pingback: My Ideal Bookshelf | Papa's Frog

  35. Pingback: Christmas Wish List Part 4 | adoptingjames

  36. Pingback: The Seven Books on My Ideal Bookshelf | Rose with Thorns

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