Saturday, April 27, 2024



Rachielle: “My rebuilt library is double-stacked, with about 434 books and counting. 

Cataloged using the LibraryThing app.”


What are your reading habits and/or tendencies (e.g. favorite type of reads)?


In the car, I listen to an audiobook or a podcast. It decreases my level of stress, especially during traffic.


At home, I read in my green comfy chair. I’m usually in different stages with different books. Once I discover an author, I tend to binge on everything by that author before I move on. I read everything—even package inserts and fine print.



What are you currently reading?


The Weird Sisters by Eleanor Brown

Her Wild American Self and When the Hibiscus Falls by M. Evelina Galang 

He Wanted the Moon by Mimi Baird

Honeymoon at Sea by Julia Silva Redmond

The Heaven & Earth Grocery Store by James McBride



If you’re a published book author, choose a book or one of your books and think about how you hope readers would read it.


I’m working on a collective family history project called Born There: An Ilocano Family’s Migration Story. I’m repurposing bits of it into a personal memoir. I hope to publish it in my lifetime. I encourage everyone to take up their oral family history project and capture those stories from our forebears before they leave the earth.



Please share some favorite books.


The Kite Runner by Khalid Husseini

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak

The Shadow of the Wind by Carlos Ruiz Zafon



Ask yourself a reading-related question you concoct, and answer it.


Question: Do you have a love affair with books?


Answer: Most kids have imaginary friends. Mine were real—two sets of the Encyclopedia Britannica, one bound in red leather, and the other in green. My parents received them as wedding gifts. I devoured all the pages, and those of the accompanying volumes of the Oxford English Dictionary, A-M and N-Z.


I have a longstanding love affair with books, and nothing inspires more fondness than my first sets. I spent many hours overlapping the transparent anatomical plates, poring through stories, and tracing my finger on the outlines of maps. I read about Alexander the Great, mythology, poetry, and King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. I even skimmed the Index for things I haven’t yet read.


My first book trauma happened when I was about eight years old, in the Philippines. Papa worked abroad, and Mama taught at the university, supporting five children with her salary and the allowance Papa sent. Once, we had no money to pay the rent, and the landlord took the green set in exchange. On the day we left the rented house, I looked through the landlord’s window and saw the beautiful set on their mantelpiece. My little heart snapped in half when I said goodbye.


In the house we built across the city, we set the remaining Encyclopedia on the TV console, the type that one would open and close. I found five new friends every day, as my teacher called new words to learn. Like my human friends, they too had attributes— spelling, pronunciation, origin, syllabication, and meaning. 


Rachielle’s First Shelfie—she was nine years old.


Fast forward to my life in the States. As a young immigrant, the public library was one of my safe places. I discovered it when I missed a bus and had to wait two hours for the next one. When I became a mom, I passed on this love of the public library to my kids. I raised them there, mostly for the free air conditioning in the summer. We checked out wagonloads of Dr. Seuss and Eric Carle. We began building their home library, something I would have killed for in my childhood.


Then I entered a period of madness, sparked by a book about tidying up. I thanked my books for the joy they had given me and donated them to charity. I was proud of my newfound minimalism, with a mere handful of volumes that had withstood the test of time. But I wasn’t happy. I descended into a pit of despair. Menopause may have had a hand in it, but blaming my separation from my beloved books was easier. What was I thinking? 


I rebuilt my library over the years. People know to give me books for my birthday and Christmas. I scoured the book nooks at public libraries and rescued some from thrift shops. Who knows? I might one day run into one of my old darlings. 


I have learned my lesson. I say what people swear after war or some cataclysmic event. “Never again.”




Rachielle Ragasa Sheffler is a member of the San Diego Writers Ink and International Memoir Writers Association. When not writing, she works as a Clinical Laboratory Scientist.


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