I photographed all the books on my “read and kept” shelf. The concept was inspired by my friend Charlie Byron, but also by Judith Thurman’s article in the New Yorker on Nov. 12. Thurman profiled Betty Halbreich, “who runs Betty Halbreich’s Solutions, a personal-shopping service based in a suite—a corner office overlooking Central Park—and two private dressing rooms—on Bergdorf’s third floor.” Thurman describes Halbreich as a “petite dynamo of eighty-five, with a svelte figure and a throaty laugh.” And twice a year, Halbreich “empties every closet, triages its contents (“you wouldn’t believe what I’ve given away—Jean Muirs!”), and cleans it with her golden sponge,” Thurman writes. “My own closets are a study in senseless hoarding, and I told Halbreich that she had taught me the importance of knowing what you possess. “That’s life,” she said.”
That’s where I’m focused at the moment, too, on understanding what I possess. It’s a miracle I’ve managed to keep any books at all, having left New Orleans in a hurry and moved countries twice in the last six years. But I’ll follow this next week with the “reading, to read, or to watch” shelf. And for everyone that’s always going to be the far more interesting shelf in their lives.