Ideal Bookshelf: Memphis Edition



Books you keep close by. Books that changed your life. Books you reread. Books you want to share. Books you think you couldn't live without. Come up with 10. Or narrow it down to 10. Burke's Book Store is asking for your entries in its "My Ideal Bookshelf: Memphis Edition."

Think of it as a city self-portrait. Dozens of Memphians already have — via a bookshelf smartphone snapshot, a simple listing of titles and authors, or on the page provided by Burke's on its website. But do so by June 30th. That's when Burke's will randomly draw from the submissions they've received. That's when you could be the winner of a custom painting of your ideal bookshelf by artist and illustrator Jane Mount.

Mount began the Ideal Bookshelf project in 2007, and since then, along with writer and editor Thessaly La Force, she's made it her business: paintings and prints and greeting cards featuring colorful book spines bearing titles and authors. To get the picture, go to or My Ideal Bookshelf, published last year by Little, Brown, which is where Michael Chabon, Patti Smith, Alice Waters and the Rodarte duo, Kate and Laura Mulleavy, were among those making their ideal bookshelves known. See for yourself what fellow Memphians have submitted at And for more information, the Burke's website is at

When recently contacted, Cheryl Mesler, co-owner of Burke's along with her husband, writer Corey Mesler, had this to say on the store's Ideal Bookshelf project:

"The response has been good … about 40 posts so far. It's been interesting to see people's photographs and the explanations of the various titles. We're planning to track them as we go to see which titles appear most often, and, being in the South, Faulkner and To Kill a Mockingbird are front-runners. My ultimate goal is to get Mayor Wharton to send us his list."

"All credit must go to Jane Mount, the artist who started this whole thing," Mesler added. "I've so enjoyed looking at her paintings. And I would love for other cities to do this. Perhaps the Ideal Bookshelf will go global."

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