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 can’t tell you how happy I am it’s December. Sure, finals season is upon me, but I always get antsy on the last one or two days of a month. I like having a fresh calendar and new wallpapers. But November still lingers, in the best of ways: last month, Lu tagged me with a short reading questionnaire. Why don’t we get started?
Do you have a favorite quote from a book?
I have a lot of favorite quotes; my room at my parents’ house actually has them taped up. But, at the the moment, two quotes leap to mind.
From Natalie Angier’s Woman:
Stride away in full strength, but remember that time and space are curved and you will come back to talk again to me, your friend, your daughter, your mother, your love. (366)
This one has stuck with me ever since I read the book; I know Angier’s poetical approach to the book makes it a hit or miss, but it works for me, and I adore the idea of someone yelling this at someone as they leave.
From Charlotte Brontë’s Jane Eyre:
“I sometimes have a queer feeling with regard to you—especially when you are near me, as now: it is as if I had a string somewhere under my left ribs, tightly and inextricably knotted to a similar string situated in the corresponding quarter of your little frame. And if that boisterous Channel, and two hundred miles or so of land come broad between us, I am afraid that cord of communion will be snapt; and then I’ve a nervous notion I should take to bleeding inwardly.”
I’m rereading Jane Eyre for my senior thesis. I reread this bit on Tuesday and started bawling a bit; I’ve been feeling all warm and fuzzy since I saw Rock of Ages on Friday (if you’ve seen it, the reason involves Russell Brand and Alec Baldwin), and this was kind of perfect.
- Angier, Natalie. Woman. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1999. Print.
- Brontë, Charlotte. Jane Eyre. London; Service & Paton, 1897. Project Gutenberg. Web. 1 March 1998.
Has a book ever inspired you to change anything in your life, fiction or non-fiction alike?
Oh, yes. Books constantly inspire me to be a better person and pursue my goals in an efficient way. Immediately rising to the top of the heap at the moment are Natalie Angier’s Woman, which really made me rethink aging in a female body and actually embrace it, and This Book is Overdue!, which made me seriously consider librarianship, to the point that if I attend grad school at all, it’ll be for library science. But every book inspires me in small ways, whether to be a better person or just never to write like that.
Have you ever used a book to instruct someone of something or is there anyone for whom you would like to do that? (I don’t mean a text book for a class, but a work of fiction or non-fiction that would get a certain message across either through plot or character). What is the book and what do you wish to impart?
One year, for either her birthday or Mother’s Day, I gave my mother a copy of Natalie Angier’s Woman: An Intimate Geography, because it really changed how I view the female body and aging. I mentioned that once or twice that I hoped it would help her with those concepts, as it’s a bit of a preoccupation for her. I later found it in my parents’ garage, which is where books go to die. You can’t win ’em all, I guess.
Woman: An Intimate Geography by Natalie Angier
When I was a wee lass (which, in my case, means prior to fourteen), I found a copy of The Female Eunuch at the independent bookstore in my hometown. Being a budding feminist, I took to it like a duck to water, marveling over Greer’s work. In a way, Woman: An Intimate Geography reminds me of The Female Eunuch; both works go through the female body piece by piece and insert a female perspective into largely male-dominated science. There’s a bit in The Female Eunuch where Greer talks about how you can’t conclusively tell the sex of a skeleton, and Woman: An Intimate Geography takes that sort of thing and runs with it.
Back in August, Eva posted about the way she reads; how she bookmarks, where she usually gets her books, and, most importantly, her commonplace book. If you, like me before I saw the post, don’t know what a commonplace book is, it’s essentially a literary scrapbook, ideally filled with quotes discovered in the course of your reading. Eva kept a commonplace book in high school, but had fallen off the wagon since. In its place, she now keeps a private commonplace blog. After some thought, I decided to start keeping a commonplace book of my own.
What are you reading right now? What made you choose it? Are you enjoying it? Would you recommend it? (And, by all means, discuss everything, if you’re reading more than one thing!)
Currently, I’m reading Woman: An Intimate Geography by Natalie Angier and Northanger Abbey by Jane Austen. I picked up Woman off the strength of Ana’s review, and I’m enjoying so far–it’s very late-nineties female empowerment, so I’m feeling very warm and fuzzy about my own geography. I would recommend it so far, but I haven’t finished yet. I’m enjoying Northanger Abbey; it’s very sweet, and manages to mock its heroine lightly without making her unsympathetic. I picked it up for class so I could get ahead a little. I ought to finish up by this weekend (I’m only reading fifty pages a day), so then I’ll see if I recommend it or not. But I like it so far.
On Thursday and Friday of this past week, I, in whatever spare time I could grab, was fervently editing old and new posts to replace “…” with “…” and “-” with “–”. What on earth motivated me to do such a thing? Why, Typography for Lawyers! Despite the name, Typography for Lawyers isn’t just for lawyers. Matthew Butterick, a typographer-turned-lawyer, is sick and tired of looking at ugly law documents, where some lawyers believe putting things in ALL CAPS will draw a reader’s attention instead of repel it. To combat this, Butterick created Typography for Lawyers, a slick little website that offers a typography primer and refresher.