Shelf-ish about Books (A Library of Untold Tales)


It’s a sickness.  It may even be a curse—

—how bonkers we are for books, that is.

bookcase in my studio

It’s true.  My partner Sara and I both love books—old books, new books, books on Kindle, iPad, smart phone, Nook.

bookcase in our bedroom

We even have a room in our house dedicated to the storage of books—a library we love, shelves we adore.

one wall in our library

Still books spill over into every room, towering on tables, falling on floors.

bookcase in one of our guest rooms

bookcase in another guest room

the floor beside my chair

But even more than these, we love the library of books we’ve not yet written, prospective texts, potential plots.  It’s these with which we’re mostly smitten.

So today I thought I’d share some of my potential titles, the embryos of books I’ve not yet written.  Take a look.  See if you would read any of these:

  1. The Rice Paper Diaries  A Mafia Childhood

This book about growing up with a father in organized crime is one I might not write for some time, I’ve been thinking recently, as I don’t want to offend anyone still living or image them in a less-than-flattering light.  (I could write it sooner in a slightly fictionalized form, perhaps)

The image of rice paper I employ in the title refers to the kind my father used to record bets during the 1970s.  It dissolved in water and was flushable—what one needed when FBI agents raided out house—as they did on a number of occasions.

  1. Leaving the Seclusion RoomA Tale of Madness in America

This book, I’ve also considered calling The Far Side of Sanity, is about my decade’s battle with bipolar disorder.  It will describe my multiple psychiatric hospitalizations during the 1990s.  This is a story I’m currently working on.

This tale had ended well, as my symptoms are now well-managed by medication, and I live a relatively normal life—as long as you don’t consider my year in Vietnam, or another in Haiti, out of the ordinary.

(To read a post that shares part of this story, click here.)

  1. Motorbike in my Living Room:  A Vietnam Memoir

An older blog that is archived here shares some of this story.  My partner Sara and I lived in Vietnam in 2009 and part of 2010.

One thing that struck me strangely, when we lived in Hanoi, was the Vietnamese inclination to park motorbikes in their living rooms at night.  This seemed to image for me much of what I thought Americans have misunderstood about the country since the 1960s.  It imaged the dysfunction I saw in the US-Vietnamese relationship for more than 40 years—the elephant in the room that no one wants to talk about.

  1. What one Wears to Meet a Former Dictator:  Haiti and other Variations on Exile

During the year we lived in Haiti, from 2010-2011, my partner directed earthquake recovery operations for a major international NGO.  But also during that time, Haiti endured a cholera epidemic, a botched presidential election, and the return of two former presidents from exile, Jean-Claude Duvalier and Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

Just before we left Haiti in mid-March I interviewed the former dictator, Baby Doc Duvalier—a fascinating experience I describe in three posts.  Click here to read the first of those called “What does one wear to meet a former dictator?”

The bottom line is this—

We all have stories to tell.  I’m not the only one with a library of untold tales.

What books have you not yet written?

40 thoughts on “Shelf-ish about Books (A Library of Untold Tales)

  1. If you write them I will read.

    My list of unwritten titles is long, maybe I’ll post about them as well. Right now, however, I’m caught in the struggle of choosing the books that cannot make the journey with us. Sometimes that is so sad. Sigh.

    By the way, we’ve got details worked out now. Look for an e-mail from me.

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    • Bless your heart, Lisa. I’m so sorry you are having to leave books behind. That’s hard. I know how challenging it can be to pack.

      I emailed you. Sara and I can’t wait to see you all! So glad you are coming!

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  2. So much great stuff here! This week I mourned at the closest Borders as they prepare to go belly-up. Since Borders used to be Waldenbooks, and I was a Waldenbooks store manager for seven years, weirdness was profound. Will Barnes & Noble be next? Where will we go to touch actual books?

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  3. Good Grief! Ya’ll live in a Barnes and Noble! My bookshelf is pretty sparse at the moment…..but it has a spot reserved for YOUR book when you publish it. 🙂

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  4. I LOVE books too. I would rather get lost in a great book than do almost anything else. And every time I’m intrigued by the story or moved by an artistic arrangement of words, I wish desperately that I knew how to string enough pieces of a story together to make them a book. And what stories have I yet to tell? I ask myself everyday. Maybe someday I’ll figure it out.

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  5. Hey Kathy! I love houses crammed with books. Mine is too.The more the merrier I say!
    Maybe one day I’ll get down to reading them all, book by book 🙂
    I’d love to write a book some day about being irreligious and living amongst strongly religious people. That would be loads of fun 🙂 But the idea of being executed for blasphemy doesn’t appeal so I guess that’s one book that won’t get written, teehee.

    I’d love to read ‘Leaving the Seclusion Room’. Let me know when you publish 😉

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  6. I love all the titles. What a background you have to draw from. How could they not be fascinating stories. Get writing so I can get reading!

    Stories I have yet to write – endless but rather than real life they’re fiction grounded in a non-fiction reality.

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    • Ah, I wish I could write fiction. I love reading it, but I seem to lack the imagination needed to develop a good story. I’d like to read yours, as well! I will get right on the writing–I promise! Thanks so much for reading. I’m honored that you would want to read a memoir I might write!

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  7. I’m looking forward to reading your books, Kathy. 🙂 The photos could have been taken in my home. Our bookshelves overfloweth. And overfloweth some more.

    As for my stories and books… hmmm… I’ve led a sort of Forest Gump life but that story has already been told. “Seeing in Frames” might be the start of something, though. 🙂

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  8. I love all your books and bookshelves. And that even though you do read e-books, you’ve still got a lot of “real” ones.

    Your prospective books titles are great! You come up with such interesting titles – also for you blog posts.

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    • Thanks so much, Lisa! I love playing with titles. It’s kind of a game for me. Weird, isn’t it? And it’s true. I have a Kindle and use it all the time, but I have to have the real thing, as well–don’t know why. Maybe that means I just really, really love books.

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