Shelf Life: Alisha Lester-Vanderheide

Alisha Lester-Vanderheide, a 19-year-old history major from Calgary, explains her bookshelves gleefully as a “cabinet of curiosities.”

“I like when my books look like a giant game of Tetris, it makes the shelves look more visually interesting.

“My shelf use to be organized alphabetically by authors last name, but when I started to accumulate more books I have since run out of space.”

And the reason she has run out of space?

“I don’t like getting rid of books.

“They are little blocks of paper, literally, that you can keep and they don’t go bad and like you can read them and find something new in a book.

“Besides, collecting books is like the most sane form of hoarding, you are seen as literate and astute.”

A reader from a young age, Alisha began her reading career with books from Robert Munch and Dr. Seuss, but one book that sticks out is The Not So Witchy Witch by Anne Rock Munger.

“It’s literally a book about a young witch that doesn’t fit into her family because she’s too pretty.

“Then she gets a black eye from a broom accident and gets accepted into the witch society.

“It’s a weird premise, I know.”

Since then, she has forayed into a lover of genres that has included YA, non-fiction, and the classics.

One such classic, that also hosts her favourite literary quote, is J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan.

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Alisha reads the passage of J.M. Barrie’s classic Peter Pan. The passage, from chapter 3 “Come Away, Come Away!,” contains one of her favourite literary quotes.

“Besides the part where Wendy is talking about being an old spinster, because well life goals, my favourite quote from Peter Pan is from chapter 3 ‘Come Away, Come Away!'”

As for what it is…

Another classic that sweeps Alisha off her feet is Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

Full disclosure, Alisha has never read the classic in its entirety, but the copy she owns still holds sentimental value.

“It is one of the prettiest books I own, but I also love it because I purchased it at the Shakespeare and Company bookstore in Paris.”

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Alisha holds up her Penguin Classic Deluxe Edition of Bram Stoker’s Dracula.

Nestled near the sprawling Cathédrale Notre Dame de Paris, lies a quaint little Anglo-American bookshop named ‘Shakespeare and Company.’

Although not the original Shakespeare and Company bookstore – Sylvia Beach opened the original Shakespeare and Co. in 1919, hosted a wide array of authors including Ernest Hemingway and James Joyce, and was closed in 1941 by the Nazi occupation of France – Shakespeare and Company still topped Alisha’s list of places to visit when she travelled to France in 2015.

“Plus, it comes with the official seal of the bookstore, so that makes it even more special.”

Every book purchased at Shakespeare and Company in Paris can be stamped with the logo of the shop.

As a second-year History major, Alisha’s taste in books has become more refined with the areas in which she has chosen to devote her career life to.

This why Alisha would also chose, if she ever became an author, to write about people in a non-fiction type setting.

“If I was to ever publish a book it would be non-fiction.

“I’m not really good at creating characters, so, I would write a book about Anne Boleyn or Mary Queen of Scots or serial killers, basically take a university paper and expand on it.”

Because of school, Alisha doesn’t typically have free time to read anything that is not required reading.

But she isn’t sweating it.

“Books just don’t go bad, they don’t have a shelf life.”

As for why Alisha thinks the shelf life of a book doesn’t come with an expiration date?

“Reading helps you get into the minds of people, and you’re like dissecting thoughts and ideas that you may not have thought of.

“Reading is the closest thing to dissection you can get to without a medical degree.”

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