Head for Cooking is in my living room. It holds about about one third of our cookbooks, a couple of reference books, and a very small sample of my collection of disembodied doll parts. Also a gorgeous handmade wooden bowl from Vermont. It was a gift for my 50th birthday, and I haven’t had the nerve to use it.
Desk with a View. When I sit at my desk in my third-floor office, I can either look left, out the window at Narragansett Bay, or straight ahead, to my books. This is where I keep books for adults (the kids’ books are in a different book case). Most of these are fiction, but these shelves also include books about fiction (analyses of James Joyce’s Ulysses from that great seminar I took in college, collections of letters by Flannery O’Connor, E.B. White and Eudora Welty, and essays (John Updike, Marilynne Robinson,Philip Levine). Needless to say, they’re arranged alphabetically, by author. On the wall above: art by my daughter, by my best friend from childhood, and by my sister’s high school boyfriend; a sentimental print from my grandmother’s apartment of a man instructing a boy in the use of tefillin; and a painted carving of an eagle holding a banner that says, “Don’t give up the ship.” It hung in my parents’ living room — a gift from my (other) grandmother when the union my father belonged to at the New York Times was on strike.