My collection of Lonely Planet guidebooks.

My bookcase.

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I’ve had my bookcase forever. OK, not forever, but probably close to ten years. It’s actually just from Target. For a few years in the mid 2000s they used to hold an annual “Global Bazaar” event featuring worldly-inspired limited-edition furniture and accessories. It’s a hard-wood piece and, even though one of the sidebars is loose and falls out when I stuff too many books on the shelf, is pretty solid. It’s another one of those pieces I can’t imagine ever not having. It’s pretty, it serves a purpose, and it serves that purpose well.

My hallway and my bookcase.

The bookcase fits nicely into the little nook of a wall behind my door. It fits all my books, sort of, and is a fine place to throw my keys and spare change and to display an owl or twenty.


My Lonely Planet collection of guidebooks.

One of the shelves is devoted entirely to my extensive Lonely Planet collection (along with a Rough Guide or two). All of these guide books are extensively used except for Australia and South Africa (I got both at some point thinking I would be going, I still plan to use them one of these days) and, I suppose, The World (though I have been to parts of it). Below that are many more travel-related books: non-fiction memoirs, travel inspiration, travel planning.


Young adult books on my bookcase.

The other shelves are filled with fiction and non fiction. There are a lot of young adult books: books by Rachel Cohn, three copies of The Perks of Being a Wallflower, and ballet books that were my favorites growing up. There are writing books from grad school. There is half a shelf worth of Chuck Palahniuk novels. There’s a copy of The Bell Jar


Measured Moments Carved Illinois Map Book

On one of the shelves is a book carved with the shape of Illinois that I picked up this summer at Randolph Street Market. Opposite is a carved heart.


A basket purse I bought in Panama.

Resting next to the bookcase is a basket-weave bag I picked up in Panama. I always want to use it as a purse but I’m afraid I’ll wear it out and break it so I keep it there to store some magazines and loose mail.

It’s a fine little nook.


The bookcase in my entryway.


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Hi, I'm Val. I spent most of my 20s in a standstill, unable to pick which path in life I wanted to take. I wanted the nomadic life of a traveler but also wanted the husband, the condo, and the kitten. Unable to decide which life I wanted more, I did nothing. When I turned 30 I’d had enough of putting my life on hold and decided to start “choosing my figs.” So, I quit my job, bought a one-way ticket to Europe, and traveled for three years. Now I'm back in Chicago, decorating my apartment in all the teal, petting my cats, and planning my next adventure.

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