The bookcase of early childhood is a man's companion for life. The arrangement of its shelves, the choice of books, the colors of spines are for him the color, height, and arrangement of world literature itself. As for books which were not included in that first bookcase--they were never to force their way into the universe of world literature. Every book in the first bookcase is, willy-nilly, a classic, and not one of them can ever be expelled.
from "The Bookcase" in The Noise of Time: Selected Prose by Osip Mandelstam, translated by Clarence Brown. Northwestern University Press. 2002 (1986)