What’s on Your Bookshelf?


By Marilyn Nutter

Curled up on my couch with a good book, the sound of falling objects startled me. One thump then another. I got up, located the source as my office down the hall, and found the shelves on my bookcase collapsed. Looking at the mess, I knew I needed to tackle it. Not on my list. I wanted to get back to reading but thought I could simply move books and then re-screw the shelves in place. I reasoned it wouldn’t take much time. A second thought came. This would  be a good time to purge my shelves. A project I had postponed for years.

For a book-lover, letting go of books is like saying goodbye to longtime friends. It’s a long goodbye with extra time flipping through pages and reading a paragraph or two or three … or a chapter as we sort. I knew the project wouldn’t take a few minutes, but potentially hours.

I got to work, and as I sorted books, I began a trip down memory lane. One pile of books brought remembrances of women from Bible studies. My handwriting looked different then. So did some of the application answers. The books I received as gifts, with names of friends and the occasion written on the title page, put faces of the givers front and center. Books varied. Some guided me in early motherhood, ministered to me in grief, and were used for research and study. Sentences were underlined. Notes and stars were written in margins.

I reminisced how the fiction collection offered me hours of company and enjoyment. I laughed at outdated covers and flinched at the copyright dates. That long ago, really?

Some books changed my life direction. A few represented life seasons—raising children, employment, tea parties, and hospitality. I noted how my tastes and focus had evolved through the years. What began as a clean-up project began to look like pages of my journal.

What about your bookshelf? How does it speak to you? Do you see:

  • Changes in interests and experiences?
  • Growth in your relationship with the Lord?
  • Hours of study for projects and classes?
  • Catalysts for conversations that challenged you?
  • Fiction and characters who became good friends, taking you to new places?

“When I look back, I am so impressed again with the life-giving power of literature.” ―Maya Angelou.

Books enrich and enlighten. We can travel without leaving home. They educate, potentially change our thinking, encourage new pursuits, and challenge our priorities.

Read your bookshelf today. Look at the spines. Stop and flip through a few pages. You may have a lump in your throat and flashbacks to a time and place. And when you look at the time spent perusing, you’ll see hours passed. Then it’s time for a prayer of gratitude.

What did you find?


Photo by Sonja Punz on Unsplash

Marilyn Nutter, of Greer, SC is the author of devotional books, a contributor to magazines, on-line sites, and compilations, and a freelance editor. She is a Bible teacher and speaker for women’s groups, a grief support facilitator, and serves with women’s ministries at her church. In her life’s seasons, she has met God’s faithfulness and clings to Lam. 3:22-23. She is the co-author with April White of the award winning Destination Hope: A Travel Companion When Life Falls Apart. Her book Hope for Widows: Reflections of Mourning, Living, and Change will be released in January 2024, by Our Daily Bread Publishing. Visit www.marilynnutter.com where you will find encouragement to weave hope and purpose into our life stories.








  1. I love looking through the books on my bookshelves. Signed copies remind me of times when I meet authors. There are specific books that bring back precious memories. I love reading.


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