What Does Your Bookshelf Say About You?

My friends, look upon this book:

book ideal bookshelf

My Ideal Bookshelf — I found at the library. It’s a collection of writers, actors, musicians, artists — cultural movers and shakers — talking about their favorite books.

As I read it, I was struck by a couple thoughts. For one, I’m woefully under-read. Not only have I not read most of the books listed, many I’ve never heard of. It’s shameful, really.

Another thought: this book is strangely voyeuristic. Like you’re peeking into their personal lives and getting a sense of what makes them tick.

But really, isn’t that what our bookshelves do? They tell a story of our interests and hobbies, our upbringing and education level, even our fears or obsessions.

And tell the truth, when visiting someone’s home, don’t you look at the titles on their bookshelves and judge them just a little, based on what you find? (Yeah, me too.)

Knowing full well you’ll probably judge me for this, I’m going to pull out a few of the titles on my shelf that I think describe me best. These are the ones I either read over and over again, or I’m deeply sentimental about them. So much so, that moving them from Phoenix to Minnesota was a no-brainer.

(Note: Nearly all links lead to abebooks.com, my favorite site for buying used books.)

My bookshelf and me

On the far right is my Betty Crocker’s Boys & Girls Cookbook. I think it was a gift when I was in the fourth grade and I credit it for igniting my love of cooking. Right next to it are Anderson’s Fairy Tales and Blackbeard’s Ghost. I read those two over and over again all through my youth, and to this day have a strong preference for fantasy. Oh, and that fat book toward the left without a binding or cover? That’s a book of poetry, both silly and serious, that my dad often read or quoted from. I believe it explains my penchant for dark humor:

Willie saw some dynamite,
Couldn’t understand it quite;
Curiosity seldom pays:
It rained Willie seven days.

Next up, let’s consider my teen years: That Certain Something, Jonathan Livingston Seagull and way over on the left, Dr. Zhivago. Probably the weirdest collection for a teenage girl to be found. That Certain Something is a book on developing charm, of all things. You might say it was the first self-help book I ever read. It even has a quiz at the end to see how charming you are. (Note: for those of a certain age, the author was Arlene Francis — she of game show fame.)

As for Jonathan LS … well, as a matter of fact, yes. I was one of those teenage girls who thought Jonathan was deep. Truly deep, man.

seagull

Dr. Zhivago is when my serious reading began. It took three attempts and a course in Russian history before I finally understood the novel was waaaay more than a love story. I felt oh-so-smart when I figured it out, and in the process learned some books are worth a second (or third) try.

From there it was an easy jump to other classics, my favorites being The Great Gatsby and Pride and Prejudice. And then there’s Giants in the Earth, by O.E. Rölvaag.

Never heard of it? Neither did I until I heard a portion of it on the radio. I immediately ordered two copies, one for me and one for my dad. Reason being, the book is about Norwegian immigrants to the Dakota territories and it opens with a man walking ahead of their ox-pulled wagon — the same story my dad told about his grandfather.

Later when my dad was hospitalized with congestive heart failure, I visited him. He brought up the novel and I found out things I never knew — like how his dad would tell him stories of trolls and other folk tales, and I learned more details about his mom’s depression after his dad died (in the book, the main character’s wife suffers from mental illness). My dad passed away a few months after our impromptu book discussion. Some books you enjoy, some you recommend, others hold treasured memories. Giants in the Earth is all of those things for me.

Closing in on our Final Five, you’ll see there’s Lanterns & Lances by James Thurber. I’ve mentioned before this served as inspiration for the Feeding on Folly moniker, and as I said in my ‘about me’ page, I’m a huge Thurber fan. This book doesn’t include his most well-known writings, but it’s about 60 years old and it smells lovely.

As I Live and Breathe, A Sense of the Morning, and Here Be Dragons were all accidental discoveries. Either found in used bookstores or at a “friends of the library” sale, they weren’t my usual choices of reading but became instant favorites. As I Live and Breathe is a sweet, humorous tale of the author and his wife in the ’40s and ’50s. A Sense of the Morning contains essays on nature, but it’s so much more than that. This book reminds me how to look at the world with a sense of wonder. And Here Be Dragons… well, that book taught me way more about the world than any science class did. If you have any interest in evolution or plate tectonics, or even if you don’t have interest, read this book. It explains things better than anything else I’ve read.

That leaves us with Bird by Bird, by Anne Lamott. Hands down, my favorite book on writing. Whenever I start feeling sorry for myself and thinking I’ll never write anything good, it helps to think of this book and picture Lamott whispering over my shoulder, “go ahead, get that shitty first draft done.” (Hmm. Might be time to reread this one.)

And there you have it, 15 of the books from my shelves. I could have shown you more, but these are the ones I feel influenced me the most – either as a writer, a reader, or simply as a human being (if being human were so simple).

And now it’s your turn. Think about the books you’ve read that made you who you are today. They might be ones you prominently display on your bookshelf, or it may be you read it once and can’t get out of your head.

List them in the comments below or, if you have a blog, write about them on your site and link it here. I’d love to get more book recommendations. After all, I’ve got some extra space on my bookshelves just aching to be filled.

my bookshelf for featured photo

Welcome to Our Church of Holy Introversion – Please Enter Quietly

Feel free to stay in the comfort of your own home and join us online. This, my fellow introverts, is your safe haven. 

Now let us gather together (not literally together, of course; we respect personal boundaries here), and recite our Opening Prayer of Introversion:

O Holy Silence and Quiet Interlude, we do seek you.
Please make our trembling hearts, which feel deeply, but discretely, Yours. Lead us to that still place within our souls, where we can find rest, and, if possible, keep the noisy people from talking for just one freakin’ minute.
We say all this in the name of the system we hold good and faithful and true, Dewey Decimal.
Amen.

And now it’s time for our first hymn. The words are printed in your bulletin if one was emailed to you, but if you don’t have one, no worries. They’re on the screen too.

As always, you can sing along if you want, or just think the words quietly to yourself. That works too.

I’ll Go Home
(sung to the tune of I’ll Fly Away)

Some glad moment when this party’s o’er,
I’ll go home (go home)
To my place where silence never ends,
I’ll go home (go home)

I’ll go on home, oh Glory
I’ll go home (go home)
When my ride is ready, “Bye and bye”
I’ll go home (go home)

Just a few more weary minutes then,
I’ll go home (go home)
No more mingling and faking friendliness,
I’ll go home (go home)

I’ll go on home, oh Glory
I’ll go home (go home)
When my ride is ready, “Bye and bye”
I’ll go home (go home)

Thank you, everyone. That was beautiful. Boy, those old standards always bring a tear to the eye, don’t they?

I’d like to point out that playing organ for us today (from the comfort of her own residence, of course), is Beatrice Milford from Lincoln, Nebraska. Thank you, Beatrice, for sharing your gifts with us, however privately.

Now it’s time for sharing our joys and concerns. If you have any you’d like to share, please type them in the box below. Don’t be shy.

Though if you are shy, that’s okay too.

Katy in Melbourne: I have a joy. Yesterday at work, my boss approved my request to work more from home. I start next week. Three days at home, two at the office. Hallelujah!

Joel in Austin: I have a concern. I’m a student and in two weeks, I have to give an oral report in my English Literature course. Please pray for me. Pneumonia would be nice. Or maybe a brief coma.

Felicity in Seattle: I just want to say how thankful I am for finding this church. I feel like this is a place where I can be myself, let my hair down and get crazy if I want to. Not that I want to. Well, you know what I mean.

Yes, we do, Felicity.

Thank you everyone for sharing. We also received a number of private messages from individuals not comfortable with voicing their concerns in a private forum. We respect that.

And now it’s time to recite our statement of faith:

We believe in the Triune Behavior of Introspection, Self-Awareness, and Not Speaking Until You’re Spoken To and Possibly Not Then Either.

We believe in Thinking Things Over for a Really, Really Long Time Before Acting on Them, and Then Thinking a Little Longer.

We believe a few trusted friends are far better than many friends, and we uphold every person’s right to refuse a hug when they don’t want to be hugged, and oh, if only everyone did.

We believe in the building of more libraries, the sanctity of quiet spaces, and the necessity of a kitty cat on our lap and/or a doggie at our feet.

Cat for an IntrovertWe believe in a Brooding Spirit,
The Holy Contemplation,
The Forgiveness of Faking Friendliness,
And the Joy of Creativity, forevermore.
Amen.

Now, before our final hymn, I’d like to draw your attention to a few events happening this week. As always, newcomers are encouraged to attend at any time, and remember, everything is offered online.

Of course.

Monday Podcast

Coping with Extraverts at Work: Strategies for Surviving Committee Meetings, Group Projects, and Coworkers with Pet Phrases

Tuesday Video Series

Establishing Boundaries – Handling the Extraverts in your Life, Episode 5: Violence is Not the Answer

Wednesday Webinar

Recluse or Hermit: Choosing the Right Lifestyle for You

Thursday Choir Meeting & Potluck

Please email our director, Winifred Placida, if you’re interested in joining. She’ll send you the music so you can sing from home. If you’d like to join the potluck, send us an email and we’ll give you the details once we figure them out.

Friday Book Club Meeting

Online discussion of the new book: I was an Extravert Wannabe – Confessions of a Closeted IntrovertIntroverted boy

We hope you’ll find time to join us for one or more of these activities. And remember, if you have any ideas for future events, please don’t hesitate to text us.

And now it’s time for our final hymn. I think you all know it. Beatrice, will you start us off, please? 

How Great’s My Home
(Sung to the tune of How Great Thou Art)

Verse 1: O Lord, my room, when I in awesome wonder,
Consider all these four walls mean to me
I have my books, my laptop and my Netflix,
It’s all I need, for an evening of pure glee.

Chorus: Then sings my soul! I’m finally all alone:
How great’s my Home! How great’s my Home!

Then sings my soul, I’m finally all alone:
How great’s my Home! How great’s my Home!

Verse 2: When through the woods, and forest glades I wander
And read Thoreau, and hear about his beans,

He make good points, perhaps a bit pretentious,
Though I gotta say, his cabin sounds sweet to me.

(Chorus)

Verse 3: When a friend should come, to a point of understanding,
And drive me home, what joy shall fill my heart,
I’ll tell them thanks, and promise I’ll call them real soon,
And then proclaim, “My Home, how great thou art!”    

(Chorus)

Thank you all for joining us today. Please be sure to sign our guest book on your way out, and remember: There is nothing wrong with you! You are perfect just the way you are!

And now, let us all rise for the blessing:

May your books be plenty
And your interruptions few.
May no unwanted attention
Ever shine upon you.
May peace be in your home
May social obligations be few
And may the extroverts in your life
Finally start listening to you.

We’ll leave you today with a quote from our Patron Saint of Introverts, Greta Garbo:

I never said, “I want to be alone.” I only said, “I want to be let alone! There is all the difference.

And let all the Introverts say: Amen!

 

Note: The inspiration for this post came from Brian of Bonnywood, who very generously gave his permission for me to organize this Church, even though it was his idea.
Thank you, Brian!  🙂

Right, Sure, and Yeah-Yeah-Yeah

I know a woman who uses a lot of pet phrases.

And by ‘a lot of pet phrases,’ I mean, ‘Please, dear God, make it stop.’

dreamstimefree_138885

But however many times a day I hear, “It is what it is,” or “It’s all good,” or “Just sayin’!” — I haven’t said a word about it.

Not. One. Word.

Which just goes to show people can change.

Back in high school, I had a friend who developed the annoying habit of ending all her sentences with “you know?” And this bothered me so much that every time she said it – and I mean every time – I’d say, “No, I don’t know. Why don’t you tell me?”

Which now that I think about it, may explain why I didn’t have more friends in high school.

But that’s not the point of today’s post. Today, I wish to focus on the words and phrases people use when other people are talking.

It’s those little words people say, or sounds they make, in order to prove they’re listening and want to keep the flow of conversation happening. It’s the, Oh yeah, Uh-huh, Mmm-yeah, or I hear ya, combos.

I’ve done some studying into the matter, and I made a few observations: Continue reading “Right, Sure, and Yeah-Yeah-Yeah”

Welcome to My Existential Crisis, Episode 4

In which our Reporter self gets her revenge against our Writer and Editor selves.

Don’t remember what happened when we last left our alter egos? Don’t worry, it’s not important. But if you insist, here’s Part 3. (Don’t say we didn’t warn you.)

Writer: (walks into room, followed by Editor) I’m telling you, I think we hurt her feelings. We need to apologize.

Editor: And I keep telling you, she’s a grown woman. I’m sure she’s long gotten over it by now. Besides, it’s not like we did anything too terrible.

chair with ropeWriter: No, of course not. We only bound her and gagged her and stole her cake.

Editor: Well, sure. If you put it like that.

Writer: It’s so weird having her gone this long. Usually it’s only a day or two, like when she’s researching a lead or tracking down facts for me. We must have really pissed her off.

Editor: Pshaw. She’s fine. Don’t worry about it.

Writer: I can’t help it. I can’t sleep, I can’t eat… I’m becoming a nervous wreck.

Editor: You should do what I do. Suppress your emotions and pretend everything is fine.

Writer: Really? You think so? Continue reading “Welcome to My Existential Crisis, Episode 4”

On Cookbooks, Churches & the Jeweler of Mordor

cabinToday for your reading pleasure, we shall be reviewing not one, not two, but three cookbooks! (The mind reels!)

But before we get to that, I have to tell you about my past weekend. And here’s a tip I’ll share with you right off the bat: Make yourself a friend with a second home. Preferably a cabin. Make sure this is a generous friend who is prone to say, “Hey, wanna stay in my cabin this weekend?”

Bonus points if they add, “Got a fully stocked bar, too! Here’s the key!” Continue reading “On Cookbooks, Churches & the Jeweler of Mordor”

Welcome to My Existential Crisis, Episode 2

Editor: Hello lovely readers. If you remember the last time we were here... actually, I hope you don’t remember the last time we were here, as it ended in a brawl. Anyway, since then, my alter egos and I have had several heart-to-heart discussions, and we decided to have another go at this. Our Reporter self

Room with sofa and tableReporter: Hi everyone! So glad to be here!

Editor: Um, yes… well, our Reporter self has done a great deal of research on the topic of psychotherapy, read a number of books on the subject, and–

R: Actually, I just looked it up on Wikipedia.

E:  

R: You know, it’s really quite good. Wikipedia, I mean. Über helpful.

E: Really wish you told me that before I agreed to this.

R: Oh, now you’re being silly. Listen, all we really need to do is talk things out and everything will be fine.

E: Okay, but how can we talk things out if only two-thirds of us bother showing up?

(Door opens, Writer self walks in, takes seat next to Reporter.)

Continue reading “Welcome to My Existential Crisis, Episode 2”

Don’t Stand So Close to Me

Everyone has a sense of personal space around them – a bubble if you will. My bubble might be bigger than your bubble. In fact, I’m sure it is.

Apologies in advance if reading this gets a certain song stuck in your head

I was in the grocery store the other day, my time at the checkout was at hand, and I stepped forward to the register with my wallet out, at the ready.

Embed from Getty Images

Problem is, the guy behind me in line stepped forward as well. You know, like we were in line for a ride at Disneyland or something.

Continue reading “Don’t Stand So Close to Me”

While Strolling Through the Park One Day…

Bear with me, people. It’s another park story.

Desert mountainSo I’m walking Dog along a mountain path – she’s off leash, by the way. Yes, there is a sign clearly posted at the entrance of the park with a rule stating, “Pets must remain leashed at all times.”

Right. I’m going to walk in this big mountain park, with jackrabbits galore, with Dog who is part Border Collie, part Lab, and I’m going to keep her leashed? Not bloody likely.

Before you lecture me, Dog is extremely well-behaved, comes to my side whenever I call her, and I always pick up after her. Always. Because I’m not a barbarian.

Anyway, I’m walking along the path, Dog is trotting ahead happily, having just sniffed a rock with great satisfaction, and I am very, very deep in thought. If you must know, I am thinking about the elephant shrew.

Continue reading “While Strolling Through the Park One Day…”

I’ll Have One Existential Crisis, Hold the Mayo

Editor: Exciting news readers! Our Writer Self is being interviewed by our Reporter Self! This is just further proof of the sparkling innovation we’ve got going here at Feeding on Folly. (Not to mention insanity.) So without further ado, let’s get to it. I’m just going to stand over here and eat my sandwich. One damn fine sandwich, it is. Take it away ladies!

writing at computerReporter: Hello, Writer Self. Thank you for speaking with me today.

Writer: Glad to do it. I like your shoes, by the way.

R: Thanks! They are cute, aren’t they? And sooo comfortable. I got them on sale.

W: Nice. So, how does this work exactly? I’ve never been interviewed by an alter ego before.

R: I’m not sure. You’re the first writer I ever interviewed.

W: Oh really?

R: Actually, you’re my first interview ever.

W: Wait… what?

Continue reading “I’ll Have One Existential Crisis, Hold the Mayo”