Sunday, January 30, 2011

The Loves of My Life are My Favorite Books

“Ink runs from the corners of my mouth. There is no happiness like mine. I have been eating poetry.”
Mark Strand

This is a bit of a departure from what I've been posting here for, well, to be honest, the last year or so. I don't know what happened to the Things of Happiness, but you know. Sometimes things peter out. So in the spirit of posting about things besides outfits, this is a post about my soulmates—books.

There is nothing I love as much as a book. I love the covers, the pages, bookshelves and bookmarks. I got a kindle for Christmas, and I do not find that this strange object has destroyed the 'real thing' at all for me. I am delighted with it. I can carry around all of my favorite books with me at all times, losing my place is near impossible, and I love highlighting sections to keep in my little clippings folder. If anything, the kindle has increased my book buying habits because if I love a book I read on there, I'll go buy a hard copy of it to place lovingly on my bookshelf.

And so, here are a few books who have (I talk to and about them like they are people—these strange, silent friends who break my heart) burrowed their way into my life in the past few months:


St. Lucy's Home for Girls Raised by Wolves, Karen Russell
This book made the rounds about a year back—I think—and it seemed all the bloggers in this little niche were talking about reading it, or wanting to read it. My resistance was pointless. With a title like that it was only a matter of time before I snatched this little beauty up, and I've hardly put it down since then. I love these stories, they're so strange, magical, and at times a little bit horrifying (at others, heartbreaking). I wish I had written them (I think one of the blurbs on the back of the books says this, so I can't be the only one!). I think I've read the stories a dozen times, some even more. If I remember correctly, this was one of the first books I read in the past year-and-a-half that reminded me why I love reading. Maybe it's early still, considering the rest of my life, but I suspect this is a book of stories that is really quite important to me. A few weeks ago I learned that the author, Karen Russell, is coming to my school for The Writer's Institute. It's only in a week or so, and I cannot wait! I am so thrilled to bits, I might explode. In the meantime, I will sit in the corner and read it over again, while eyeballing my penny-loafers praying to be chewed.


Pretty Monsters, Kelly Link
I was looking for something that would satisfy my appetite for strange short stories with an element of the magical. It's hard, because I knew the kinds of books and stories I wanted were out there somewhere (essentially I was looking to read more of the first listed above), but finding them seemed and impossible task. I almost would rather not read a book at all that ends up being a disappointment, and so it took a good week or so of hemming and hawing on my part before I snatched this one up. I think I read the description of it on Amazon and the review 47 times. This was unnecessary, because I loved it. The stories were also strange, magical, occasionally frightening, and at times hilarious. The only problem is that I finished it, and while I can read it again, it's never quite the same as the first time.


Of Bees and Mist: A Novel, Erik Setiawan
After Pretty Monsters, I was bereft. I had gone through re-reading everything I already knew I loved, and then read that book, and still hungered for more. Thankfully, a tumblr-friend came to my rescue, leaving this curious title and a a recommendation in my ask box. After reading the description on Amazon I hadn't a doubt in my mind that this was exactly the book, or the kind of book, I was looking for. Not to mention, I love bees (I have a secret desire to keep bees and wear that crazy outfit) and also, I love mist. I read it in just over twenty-four hours, devouring its pages in a mad rush, speed-reading whole sections and being totally heartbroken thinking about the characters every moment of the day. The book isn't without it's faults—at moments I wanted to punch the same oft-used adjectives in their little font-faces—but somehow that hardly matters. It was a book I was happy to become swept up in, like I used to with books when I was younger, to be absorbed into it's universe so much that it seemed tragic to me that I could not literally be a part of it, living it (even though the events in it are horribly).

I have also recently signed up for a Shelfari account. Hopefully I'll keep up with it, and eventually I'd like to have all my books up there, but we'll see how long motivation for that lasts.

40 comments:

  1. These all sound so wonderful, I will definitely have to read them.

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  2. You know I was wondering, how do you feel about good old fashioned paper backs being replaced by iPads and Ereaders and the like? I personally don't like iPads at all, I love the feel of a trusty worn well read dog eared book in my hands and the glorious smell of the yellowing paper but with iPads taking over I sometimes worry that the simple pleasure of reading a paper back will be lost eventually...

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  3. Harlow Darling: I feel no animosity towards e-readers and the like at all. As far as I am concerned, the two are completely separate experiences that have very little to do with one another. Books, in their original technology, will probably never go anywhere (despite what what's-his-name from Amazon seems to think). E-readers are good for some things--like I said, there is a great satisfaction in having my favorite books with me at all times--and books for others. It's technology that lives side-by-side, not one without the other :)

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  4. These all sounds intriguing, I will look into them. Judging by your shelfari account you have good taste!

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  5. All of these have gone straight onto my to-ask-for-next-at-my-used-bookstore list, thanks!!

    As well, I was wondering if you've read any of Angela Carter's work? She's a "feminist" writer who did some wonderful work in the 70s - you'd love her collection "The Bloody Chamber," it's all gloriously strange re-tellings of old fairy tales. Disturbing at times, but so damn good.

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  6. Lovely blog! Kelly Link is one of my favorite writers too. Have you read her two other collections? She and her husband also run Small Beer Press (smallbeerpress.com) where they not only publish delightful novels and short story collections, but a fantastic lit zine called Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet. Everything they touch is beautiful and strange :)

    Also, leilani.e, Kelly Link is a great fan of Angela Carter (me too), and you can see a bit of Carter's influence in Link's aesthetic.

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  7. leilani.e: I have! I do like it, although I have to say I don't get lost in the work of her's I've read thus far the way I'd like to. I've got several of her collections on my wish list though, so I tend to read her no matter what (I also was a Women's Studies minor in undergrad, and wrote a good 60% of my papers on fairy tales, so she's kind of unavoidable :D).

    Samantha: I know! I mean, I haven't actually checked it out yet, but I skulked around on her website for a while and was so excited about all of that! And she's in Northampton, MA, my favorite place to day-trip! Ahh!

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  8. I love hearing about books, I will definitely check these out, first one sounds great, especially!

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  9. Am I so lame as to not have heard of any of these titles before? And to think I have been claiming a passionate love for books for years. Shame on me.

    I will definitely check these out. Thanks, Kater. xo

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  10. I read a short story by Kelly Link about a hotel and a beach and an odd sort of dream, creepy but good. Not a big fan of short stories but her writing has staying power.

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  11. <3 <3 <3 Northampton. I went to Smith :)

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  12. All sound wonderful and all so pretty! I don't like the idea of these Kindles at all though, I like to stroke my spines :)

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  13. I'd never heard of Shelfari! Definitely going to sign up for that. I have no way of keeping track of books I own or read in any sane manner...

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  14. Thanks for the recommendations. I love this kind of post!

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  15. this is such a lovely post. since basically doing a literature degree I find I have less and less time to read for pleasure - I miss that mad rush you get when you find something you absolutely adore :) xx

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  16. Thanks for the recommendations - I love magical stories too and am always looking for more! x

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  17. These books sounds wonderful, I will check it out. Thanks for sharing!
    Brad Fallon

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  18. They all sound so amazing! I really need to pick one up soon!

    xoxo,

    colormenana.blogspot.com

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  19. Thank you so much for these recommendations, I'm off to add all 3 into my Amazon basket :) they sound just perfect for me! x

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  20. muy bonito post!!!
    tiene el blog un estilo muy xulo!!!
    xoxo
    =D
    besazos wapsisima

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  21. Those look lovely. Oh, I love old fashion books but I have an e-reader. They both serve their purpose. I don't think books will ever be lost. We are still a tactile people. Plus, the copyright/ownership issues that come with e-readers are still cumbersome. Sorry, I am a library student so I had jump on a soap box!

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  22. I want that books and read those books. :)

    please visit >> http://reniinongsafitri.blogspot.com

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  23. I'd break a kindle if I had one! With a paperback it can battered about the place and still remain intact :) I've been buying up a store of books in the salvation army to read after my degree is done and dusted. I like what you're saying about having your favourite book with you everywhere.

    PS. You got my christmas card right? its nearly two months since I sent it, I never received yours x

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  24. thanks for the recommendations! i always love adding new books to my lists... can't wait to read these!

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  25. Great post, and it's really made me want to finish my book and start the next one now :)

    Refreshing to see something a bit different. In the end all art is connected, it shouldn't be a bad thing if you want to branch out and write about other subjects. I blog about art as well as fashion. They cross over in so many ways and I love writing about both. I was worried it would look cluttered and as though it didn't have a distinct identity, but in the end it's my blog so I have to do what I like, otherwise it's a chore, right?

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  26. I love your blog!!
    and of course I follow you :)
    your vintage style's great

    www.annefirefliesinthenight.blogspot.com

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  27. Wow even the book covers look gorgeous. I'll definitely take a look at them, thanks for sharing it ;)
    I'm so glad to see you back!
    Ale

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  28. Oh you should read Special Topics in physical calamities. Its definitely a fun mystery novel that'll leave you shocked and amused! haha (now I sound like an advertiser).

    I was also reading your other blog posts about you getting the "ubiquitous blunt bangs" and I find it hilarious that that's become one of our trademarks of bloggers! so funny

    ~newscutouts from newscutouts.blogspot.com

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  29. st lucy's home for girls raised by wolves is my favorite! the short stories are so amazing. it's my sisters favorite book too.


    Escape

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  30. nice books! and your header is soo cute. :) nice blogggg
    xoxo

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  31. YAY---excellent. I needed some recos, and these are all new to me.

    p.s. I think we might get to meet soon for real!!! double yay.

    C

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  32. As much as I love ambiguous plot and a whff of existentialism in the ending and exciting characters, I am such a sucker for book covers!

    Thanks for adding to my reading list

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  33. What a fantastic post, I'm always on the look out for new reading material and these all sound so great

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  34. I really love reading the same types of stories. I'll have to check these out. Also, I do worry a bit about the whole e-reader trend, not so much because books will cease to exist or anything so apocalyptic, but rather that many libraries and bookstores seem to be closing all over the place. Makes me terribly sad.

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  35. You have an amazing Blog!
    Please stop by my Blog @ http://quick-reads.blogspot.com/

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  36. Ohh, thanks for the suggestions. I'm mesmerized by the covers alone! I'm always ready for new books--occupational hazard of working at a bookshop, I suppose. Not unlike the lovely occupational hazard you describe in your more recent post about working in a bakery. I too, have been indulging in croissants everyday without fail, since I've been traveling in Japan this month. THe bakery shops are EVERYWHERE here. And delicious. I just can't resist. To see is to devour.

    xoxo,
    Gina

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  37. looking forward to reading the last book as well xx

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  38. i just came across your lovely blog via a link to this post:

    http://allthishappiness.blogspot.com/2009/06/imaginary-summer.html

    which i must say echoes my own thoughts of summer, my own ideals of summer. and if that wasn't enough to fall in love with your blog, i see that your thoughts also echo my own in regards to "saint lucy's home for girls raised by wolves." and now i've added those other two to my must-reads!

    can't wait to wander through the rest of your blog!

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  39. I have 'Of Bees and Mist' in my To Read pile, and after that recommendation, it just jumped up a few places!

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