My Ideal Bookshelf was edited by Thessaly La Force and was filled with art by Jane Mount. Over a hundred people wrote about their ideal book shelves, filling a page with their thoughts. Across from each essay is one of Jane's paintings of that particular person's 'ideal bookshelf.' I have to admit that most of the people who participated were unknown to me, but I did know of a few of them beforehand.
One page to describe about ten books and why they were chosen to be on that person's ideal bookshelf is not much space. Many didn't cover all of the books illustrated for their shelves. At first I didn't like that - I thought that they should at least explain why each of books were chosen to be on their top list. However, as I made my way through the book I realized that the essays were fine the way they were. They had to be kept to one page, more than that would have spoiled the nice layout of the book. In some cases the best essays were the ones that didn't even describe any of the books on that particular shelf but instead described the general thoughts the person had on books in general.
If I reviewed this book after only reading the first fifty pages I might of only given it two out of five stars, but as I reached the end I 'got it' and began to really like the book. It was also nice on those occasions when I spotted a book that was on one of my shelves. My final review of this book is 4 out of 5 stars.
Here is my sketch of the ten books that I would put in my 'Ideal Bookshelf' as of January 2013. Included on that shelf are the following:
Advanced Dungeons & Dragons Players Handbook: by Gary Gygax. Dungeons & Dragons had a big influence on my early life. This well-worn tome had to make the list.
Myths of the Modern Age: by Win Scott Eckert. A series of articles and essays about the Wold Newton concept. One of my favorite recent things.
Guns, Germs, and Steel: by Jared Diamond. A great reference that aided me in developing various alternate timelines for some role-playing games.
For Want of a Nail: by Robert Sobel. An awesome alternate history that was written as if it were an actual history book form that alternate world.
Recarving Rushmore: by Ivan Eland. A very good analysis of the Presidents of the United States from a completely different set of parameters than most other rankings.
The Martian Tales Trilogy: by Edgar Rice Burroughs. Classic sword & planet.
How to Start Your Own Country: by Erwin S. Strauss. Great reference book for micronations
The Pity of War: by Niall Ferguson. One of the better books on the First World War in recent years.
The Crying of Lot 49: by Thomas Pynchon. Just the right amount of strangeness for my tastes.
The Guns of the South: by Harry Turtledove. A great story about time travel and the American Civil War.