Today we’re snooping the shelves of author Shawn Smucker. Shawn is the author of two books I enjoyed and recommend: Building a Life Out of Words (for you writerly types) and How to Use a Runaway Truck Ramp (for you adventurous types, or those who wish to be).
Shawn is also the author of the forthcoming book The Day The Angels Fell. I was proud to support this book’s kickstarter campaign (which hit its goal in two days and is now shooting for stretch goals), and can’t wait to get my hands on the finished project.
As a friend and fellow writer, I’m thrilled to sneak a peek at Shawn’s shelves today.
1. Tell us a little bit about your shelves.
The book shelves in my office form a sort of cocoon—it’s my hope that if I surround myself with enough inspiring work, I might someday write something lasting as well. I’m surrounded by words. My office is small—maybe 6′ by 8’—and I have a lot of books, so I’ve been forced to use every piece of furniture as a bookshelf: the table where I work, the filing cabinet, and even the floor space in between shelves. It’s pretty cluttered, but I like it that way.
2. How are your books organized?
They’re not. I mean, my Everyman’s Library books are together, and books by the same author are generally placed in the same space. They’re mostly organized by size based on what will fit on the shelf. Sometimes books of a similar topic will end up grouped together.
For the most part though, it’s random; I placed them on the shelves as I unpacked them when we moved here in May, and that seems as good a way of organizing them as any.
3. Do you have a favorite shelf?
I don’t really have a favorite shelf—many of my favorite books are scattered through the shelves—but there are a handful of books I like to keep within arm’s reach, and those are all on the table right in front of me. Books like Crossing to Safety, New Seeds of Contemplation, A Prayer For Owen Meany, The Brothers K, everything I own by Jose Saramago and Henri Nouwen, the journals of John Steinbeck as he wrote East of Eden and Grapes of Wrath, The Writing Life, and Bird By Bird.
4. Any special titles you’d like to point out to us?
There’s only one book that I’m really proud to own in its specific edition and that’s my 1864 copy of Pilgrim’s Progress. It’s a beautiful book I found in a bookstore in Brighton, England when we lived there about ten years ago, and it’s 150 years old this year if my math is right. Inside is a handwritten inscription that says, “Presented to Miss Ada Atty, by the Misses Sharrocks for improvement in Music. Midsummer 1865.” How cool is that?
I do have a shelf of the books I’ve written, mostly co-written memoirs, some traditionally published and others self-published. They’re leaning up against an old, broken-down typewriter, because that’s what I feel like most of the time. Co-writing and ghost-writing books is what I do for a living, and it’s fun to see that shelf grow.
Please join me in thanking Shawn for sharing his bookshelves with us. Read more about him on his blog, and find out more about his kickstarter campaign here. (I especially love the nod to Madeleine L’Engle.)
Share your thoughts about Shawn’s work, broken-down typewriters, and keeping your favorites within an arm’s reach in comments.