Creating, resurfacing memories in my writing/reading room

by Mallary Tenore Tarpley

I love this picture. My friend took it recently after I showed him and some of my other friends my new home office. (I prefer to call it my “writing/reading room.”)

“We should get a picture of you reading!” one friend suggested.

“OK, let’s find a good book!” I said, perhaps getting a little too excited.

My friends started looking through the books on my Billy bookcases from Ikea. (Incidentally, I’m reading a book — “Unpacking My Library: Writers and Their Books” — which says that as of 2011, Ikea had manufactured about 28 million of these bookcases. I take this as a reassuring sign that bibliophiles are not a dying breed.)

One of my friends gravitated toward a book with a colorful binding — an old copy of “The Canterbury Tales.” My dad, who always used to read to me when I was younger, bought me that book several years ago after I took a Chaucer class in college. He knew my copy was tattered, so he wanted to find me one that had character and was in good shape.

After several visits to independent bookstores, he ended up buying me a copy that was published in 1935. I remember the smile on his face when I opened it up and admired the drawings that go along with each tale, and the handwritten notes in the margins. I love books with notes — they make me feel connected to the people who have turned the same pages before me, and sometimes introduce me to new interpretations.

As my friend got ready to take the photo of me reading, I sat up straight, held the book in front of me and embraced my inner nerd.


The photo is both fun and dorky (some might say adorkable), and it reminds me of things I hold dear: friends, books and, most of all, my dad.