I rearrange my bookshelf two or three times each year. The books were originally alphabetized by author name. Then I switched to a genre type of classification. Then I got all fruity and took half of the books off of the shelf and replaced them with baskets of decorative crap and framed pictures. Regardless of my system, The Rule is that only Top Shelf books get to hold a spot on the top shelf.

The Top Shelf books have changed over the years. Bridget Jones’s Diary was a Top Shelf book after I had it signed by Helen Fielding. If On a Winter’s Night a Traveler has been on and off of the top shelf for several years. Letters of E.B. White is on the top shelf. The House of Mirth is a top shelfer. The Ground Beneath Her Feet has recently earned a Top Shelf spot, right next to A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius, which was off the shelf for a bit, but jumped back on just last month. The only book that has held a Top Shelf position since the beginning of the Top Shelf concept is The Art Spirit.

Recommended by a friend several years ago, The Art Spirit is a compilation of theories and beliefs held by the American artist, Robert Henri. The book is not necessarily meant to be read cover to cover, although I’ve read it that way a number of times. It’s best read in the way that my grandma used to read the Bible–when you have a question, pull the book off of the shelf, open it up to any old page, and just start reading.

This morning, because I was a bit nervous about my first Flawed but Authentic entry, I pulled The Art Spirit off of the shelf. I opened it to page 265.

“Pretend you are dancing or singing a picture. A worker or painter should enjoy his work, else the observer will not enjoy it. It is not good to wear lace that was a drudgery to someone to make. The lace, as well as the picture, should be made in joy. His works are full of the beauty of his enthusiastic interest in life. All real works of art look as though they were done in joy.”

And here is where I should probably say something like, “Ok, friends. It’s time to dance and sing and joyfully weave words!”

But I’m not really dipped into that kind of sprinkle, am I?

My favorite sentence in The Art Spirit:
There are mighty few people who think what they think they think.

I’ll leave you with that.