Bragging Rights

Since I've been home, I've been listening to a lot of CBC Radio One. I listen to it almost exclusively when driving, because a) my clock radio has terrible reception in the basement and I can't listen to it in the apartment, and b) I find the monotone voices and melodramatic conversation that requires a careful ear makes me a much calmer driver. While it may be hard to believe (insert heavy sarcasm), I must admit that I occasionally have a bit of an anger problem, which most frequently rears its head while driving. Thanks to "Crosstalk," I'm much less apt to fume and wish tickets to befall a fellow motorist who cuts me off or nearly kills me by trying to "make" a green arrow when it's been red for several long seconds.

Thanks, CBC Radio One, for making me a better person.

I have to think of a new title for my blog, since I am no longer living in a Big City. I like the "Notes from a ..." preface, but I'm having a hard time thinking of an ending that's catchy/witty/funny and real. So far, my ideas consist of:

  • Notes from a Directionless Graduate
  • Notes on Notes
  • Notes from a Bibliophile
  • Notes from a Potentially Crazy Cat Lady
None of these are particularly appealing, so I call upon you, dear reader, to offer nuggets of wisdom and creativity that will please my wandering soul.

And now, I am going to completely indulge in something I've wanted to do for a long time: post pictures of my bookshelves and talk about them. I said to my mom the other day, as I sat alone in my living room, staring at my bookshelf with silent admiration, that I am proud of two things in my life: my academic accomplishments, and my book collection. (I'm also proud of my earring collection, but that doesn't fit in the enumeration of "two"). 

I know this makes me a nerd of epic proportions, but really, was there any doubt? Anyway, without further ado, I present to you: my bookshelves. My books are organized alphabetically by author's/editor's last name. And no, I haven't read them all, but I've read the great majority of them. A lot of them I've read twice. Fewer I've read three times, and there are about 10% I've read more than 10 times. The winner goes to Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban, which I've read upwards of 38 times.

Yes, I know I'm so nerdy that it's not even the cool nerdy anymore. I know.

As you're touring my shelves, I'll highlight some of the more noteworthy books:

On the top shelf, you'll find my budding collection of Julian Barnes books, which are not particularly great stories but he's such a quotable author; a few of Rob Bell's books; Russell Brand's autobiography, which was graphic and funny and I'll never read it again; The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, which are brilliant and funny and sad and moving; my battered copy of Wuthering Heights that caused me the most grief to finish, and I threw it against a wall when I was done; my Dan Brown books minus my fancy copy of The DaVinci Code that's somewhere else in my house, and my collection of Bill Bryson books, his latest, At Home, missing because I loaned it to a friend.

Here you'll see The Novel 100, a book the amazing Marion gave me that covers the top 100 books of known time, which I've yet to finish; Joseph Coohill's Ireland: A Short History, which is the most interesting history book I've ever read; Alexander Dumas' The Three Musketeers which I bought in England and have yet to read; one of my faves, The Great Gatsby; Stephen Fry's fairly disappointing The Liar and Jonathan Safran Foer's unbelievable and amazing and moving and profound Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, which you should all read; the necessary The Foucault Reader; two works by Canadian author Elizabeth Hay, which you shouldn't read; Joseph Heller's amazing Catch-22, which took me 5 months to read but was totally worth it; and a collection of Tin-Tin comics, because that's awesome.

Nick Hornby's Fever Pitch and a collection of short stories called Speaking with the Angel; my most recent read, The Kite Runner; a collection of essays I bought for a paper I once wrote called The Office and Philosophy, which turned out to be useless and not interesting; Susan Isaacs' Angry Conversations With God, which I thought was funny and real and reveals a lot about the complicated life journey with God; Miranda July's No One Belongs Here More Than You: Stories, which I wanted but could not remember the title of, so I went into Chapters and asked a worker "I want this book, it's a collection of stories and it's yellow," and she found it!; the collected works of John Keats; a biography of Winston Churchill that I've yet to finish and the worst book ever written, according to my thesis supervisor, called The Waterbabies; my small and loved Chuck Klosterman collection; Armageddon Averted, which is about Russian culture after the fall of Communism; the great play Homebody/Kabul where the entire first act is a monologue; The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, which I didn't enjoy and never bothered to read the rest of the trilogy; and Imaging Russia, all about Russian film in the 21st century.

Here you'll see one of my favourite books of all time, Gabriel Garcia Marquez's One Hundred Years of Solitude; Ian McEwan's Atonement, Black Dogs, and Saturday, of which you should only read the first; all of Don Miller's books, with the exception of his reprint of To Own a Dragon which came out last year under the title Father Fiction and had a few added chapters, and including his first book ever which is not available anywhere anymore, called Prayer and the Art of Volkswagon Maintenance; the outstanding Watchmen; Greg Mortenson's amazing Three Cups of Tea, which you should all read; Norwegian Wood, which came highly recommended and I did not enjoy whatsoever; an incredible illustrated version of Alfred Noyes' The Highwayman; the requisite Orwell books, Animal Farm and 1984; scattered bit of Jodi Picoult; and Anthony Rapp's autobiography, which made me like him less. I hate when that happens. 

On this, the bottom shelf, we have Catcher in the Rye, whose spine is hidden from view; Satrapi's graphic novels, Persepolis 1 & 2; an autographed copy of David Sedaris' collection of short essays about his family called Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim, which made me laugh out loud countless times; classics like Frankenstein and The Gulag Archipelago, which I have not read; parts 1 and 2 of the graphic novel Maus: A Survivor's Tale, which is incredible and you should all read it; Canadian young adult graphic novel Skim; more classics by Tolkien and Vonnegut; a collection of Russian short stories that I found for $1 at a book sale at UBC; an autographed copy of Weight by Jeanette Winterson, courtesy of Zaren, and her amazing Written on the Body; The Book Thief, a story about a non-Jewish family during WWII who is greatly affected by the Holocaust and one of the most profoundly written books I've ever read; my handy-dandy Norton Anthology of Literary Theory and Criticism; and Picturing Canada, my UBC supervisor Judi Saltman's book that literally covers everything you ever needed to know about Canadian children's picture books.

You thought I was done? Oh no... we haven't even gotten to the children's books yet! Luckily, they are all captured in one photo:

I've pretty much read everything on this shelf multiple times, usually more than twice. The books I am most proud/fond of are my 1946 special coloured edition of Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass, both found at an amazing antiquarian book shop in Victoria; Joan Clark's The Word for Home, which she signed for me last year with a lovely inscription; The Hunger Games, which is definitely my favourite read of this past year; John Green's Paper Towns; Jean Little's From Anna, a book which I fell in love with at age 9 and wrote my SSHRC application/UBC application about; Janet McNaughton's books, two of which she signed; my Kit Pearson books, especially the Guests of War Trilogy, which she signed this past semester and are my absolute favourite books from my childhood (I was even sort of boring as a kid); of course my Harry Potter books, which have been read more than anything on my shelf except my Little House on the Prairie series; Shel Silverstein's amazing book of poetry A Light in the Attic; and a parliamentary alphabet book I bought in Ottawa which is so bad that it's great.

This isn't the entire collection. Some books, mostly anthologies including a collection of CODCO plays, are upstairs in a different shelf, and I also have a stack of children's picture books that really have nowhere to go, which includes my autographed copy of Pierre Pratt's The Ladder, and one of my Canadian favourites The Cremation of Sam McGee.

Part of me feels like posting this is just, well, wrong, like I'm signing my social death warrant. But whatever, if you didn't know I liked books by this point, dear reader, then you certainly won't notice that I like them now.



Marion said…
I literally lol'd at your last sentence! :D

So many good books. I memorized and performed The Cremation of Sam McGee in Grade 6. I love Shel Silverstein - best poet ever!

I really really want to read The Book Thief (thanks for reminding me of its existence; I obviously really wanted to read it :P). Also, The Kite Runner. I saw the movie and cried, so I'm sure the book is amazing.

Actually, to be honest, I pretty much want to read 90% of what you listed off. Gonna be a busy and antisocial summer. :D
Courtney MacLellan said…
i must be equally geeky, because i got really excited when i saw what this blog was about. we have really similar taste in books!
Sarah said…
My heart just melted.

P.S. If you aren't going to read Russell Brand's autobiography again, lend it to me. :)
Unknown said…
I'm currently on a quest to introduce a LOT more reading into my life. Therefore, I'm glad you shared your bookshelf and your opinions on many of its constituents because I may possibly use it as a guide for what-to and what-not-to read in the near future. Your collection is most impressive and understanding the hours of dedicated reading on display is incredible.

I found your last sentence most hilarious as well.
Jill S. said…
I kind of love you all! :)

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