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My Home Library, by Bobby Miller

This post is part of 805's “My Home Library” series that features writers and artists enjoying their home libraries during the pandemic and beyond.

During the pandemic, I took up photography. I also took up buying an excessive amount of photography books.


Warning: If you love beautifully made books with haunting images that convey subtle stories and meanings and moods, then you may feel compelled to buy photography books. This will impact your bank account: as proof, I can show you my credit card statements. Consider using your local library to satisfy your needs.


I started buying classics like American Photographs, by Walker Evans, and The Americans, by Robert Frank. Nan Goldin’s landmark 1986 book, The Ballad of Sexual Dependency, soon made its presence felt. A survey of Mary Ellen Mark’s great career, The Book of Everything, proved irresistible. The list goes on—upwards of 60 books from October 2020 to April 2021. As I write this, I’m expecting a delivery of William Christenberry from an independent bookseller in Chicago.


For a long while, my wife and I made a pandemic ritual of paging through each book I bought. She has a keen eye for color and composition; moreover, she has an empathetic imagination, the kind of mind and heart that eagerly respond to art. She writes flash fiction and often uses a photograph for inspiration to start a story. Sometimes, my purchases are based on whether I think a particular book will resonate with my wife—a few titles she’s particularly enjoyed are The Adventures of Guille and Belinda, by Alessandra Sanguinetti, and Deanna Templeton’s What She Said.


Our daughter loves books and loves owning books. She’s in her mid-twenties and was a photographer before I was. But I’ve forbidden her from collecting any photography books. All she has to do is buy a big house and keep a ginormous amount of room free on her bookshelves, and someday she’ll have a nice collection of well-thumbed volumes, handed down to her by her dad.


Bobby Miller is a librarian and amateur photographer. His work has appeared in Atticus Review; Feral: A Journal of Poetry and Art; Journal of Erato; Kissing Dynamite; Wrongdoing Magazine; The Main Street Rag; and Arkana. His website is bobbymillerphoto.com. With his wife, Sandie Friedman, he publishes a project combining photography and flash fiction: sandiebobby.com.


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