In curating your ideal bookshelf, you are constructing an expression of yourself in that specific moment: what’s important to you right now? The contributors to My Ideal Bookshelf have different ideas of import. Some focus on reference, others on beloved texts, others on texts they haven’t read yet but want to or think they need to. As an editor at heart, curation comes naturally to me: my spring cleanings are more ruthless culls. With my birthday on Tuesday, I thought this would be a good time to start a new tradition: to celebrate my nativity each year, I will curate my ideal bookshelf, so that I may count my rings in the future. The rules? Ten books I would actually use as reference material. Commence shakedown.
I’m trying to listen to myself more—which also requires knowing when to listen to my own excuses. Last Wednesday, I felt an urge to go and do something, so I decided to hie myself down to the First Baptist Church to hear Jessica Hagy, the woman behind the blog Indexed, present on her new book, How To Be Interesting. Unfortunately, the reading wasn’t there, it was at the library proper. One impromptu car ride with a very nice nurse later, I finally scuttled into the reading.
What is best in life? Books and cake, obviously. As part of the townsfolk’s continuing commitment to keeping East Atlanta weird (as a bumper sticker once extolled me to), the Literacy Volunteers of Atlanta annually host the delightful Edible Books Festival. The title says it all, really; entries must be edible and “bookish” (as well as smaller than twenty square inches). Most entries are cake, as were all of this year’s, but fruits and vegetables are more than welcome. There are three categories: children’s, home chefs, and professional chefs. All the entries are auctioned off and the proceeds go towards helping adult literacy in the city. Everybody wins! I had no idea this event existed until a friend of mine entered her own cake into the competition, and, naturally, I declared I would attend and purchase myself a cake handcrafted by a small child. If my nephew is going to smash up his lovingly baked first birthday cake, obviously the inverse must occur first. (This post contains a lot of photos. Do we still warn for that? We certainly should.)
My Irish heritage is almost purely nominal at this point, overwhelmed by it is by the centuries since my Irish ancestor realized she could ditch Ireland for the New World and the whole “mostly French” thing. But such things are mere technicalities when you’re named after an Irish county, turn ruddy in the sun, and the only drink you like is Bailey’s: I gladly and loudly declaim I’m an Irishwoman as much as I declaim my status as a French kid. So, in the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day (when everyone else joins me in being Irish), I thought I’d highlight a few things you can read (or watch!) to celebrate the Emerald Isle.
As a little kid, I took a very specific approach whenever I encountered a newspaper. Obviously, the only section worth anything was the Life or Lifestyle section, where I could read about celebrities whose names I had heard somewhere, read the newspaper comics (which was the vast majority of my media diet as a kid), and read the advice columns. Everything else held no interest for me. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution of my youth syndicated two columns—the ever-present Dear Abby and Carolyn Hax’s Tell Me About It, which seemed to be the hipper of the two. As time went on, my parents stopped subscribing to The Atlanta Journal-Consitution, so my advice column reading became limited to occasionally reading The Ethicist in The New York Times. But over the last few months, I’ve started reading some online advice columns that blow the syndicated stuff I’ve seen utterly out of the water, and I’d like to share them with y’all today.
Over the past year or so, I’ve really fallen in love with cooking—my intermittent access to kitchens undoubtedly makes it more romantic than utilitarian, but I’ve gone from aping recipes to adapting them. I spent much of my winter holiday perfecting an apple muffin recipe, which is part of my ongoing quest to replace butter and oil in recipes with yogurt and applesauce. (Why? Something something health something something lactose intolerance?) Cooking is certainly a science, but I prefer to think of it as an adventure in alchemy—with delicious results! And this fine, freezing morning (why are you snowing Georgia I thought we were friends), I thought it was high time share those delicious results with you.
Did you know that there’s a The Lord of the Rings musical? Because there totally is.
For some reason, though, the fact of its existence never sank in, even when a fellow high school thespian told me about how much he’d enjoyed the stagecraft of the production when he saw it in Toronto. But last year, whist browsing TheOneRing.Net’s forums, I found out the cast recording was available on Spotify, and I began to investigate the now-closed show in earnest.
Another Valentine’s Day, another batch of inappropriate Valentines handed out to my beloved friends (this year: The Dark Knight Rises), and another tribute to a literary couple that I adore. My journey through the Sherlock Holmes canon is almost complete, so John Watson and Mary Morstan have been weighing heavily on my mind. By which, of course, I mean that I’ve been making playlist after playlist for their various incarnations, so. Let’s get down to it.
Last month over at the Tor.com blog, Emily Asher-Perrin posted “Fiction Into Reality: Why We Borrow From What We Love”. Asher-Perrin talks about how we deliberately mimic our favorite characters and our stories; for example, as a little kid, she would sometimes dress up a little bit like Luke Skywalker as a little kid to liven up the humdrum routine of school. She concludes that “[m]aybe it’s a little bit about courage. About reinvention. About taking charge of yourself, and becoming the person you want to be.” I think we see the same sentiment in I Want My MTV, when artist Howard Jones states that “[s]urely that’s one of the functions of pop culture, to show people that there are many options out there and you can choose which one is right for you” (115). Given the diverse tastes of fans, we’ve got a lot of options to choose from, and reading Asher-Perrin’s post made me want to share some of the stuff that I have consciously taken from fandom.
On Wednesday, news broke that the fiftieth issue of Vertigo Comics’ The Unwritten will feature a crossover with another beloved literary comic, Fables, first reported by io9. (There’s a piece of art at the link, which will presumably be used on one of the covers for one of the crossover issues.) Crossovers, naturally, are nothing new to comics or even big geek franchises—hello, official Doctor Who and Star Trek: The Next Generation crossover comics! But the idea of The Unwritten doing a crossover with another series gives me considerable pause, since crossovers—especially crossovers that seem to be dictated by editorial and not story—often work best when the Toy Box Rule is in effect. And it’s definitely not in effect for The Unwritten.