Books. How delicious. If I could I would literally eat them, but the paper eaters in kindergarten never fared well so I learned to refrain. It’s possible I’ve always loved reading; my mother tells stories of finding me folded into corners behind coat racks and lamps with a book in hand—legs stretched together and woven through the base of the stand like a feeble anchor. I might still be there if conventions allowed such behavior, and if food delivery services were invented much earlier. I learned more about human existence from books than I ever did from schooling; so I became an English major where you are allowed to feel feelings when you read textbooks and grasp at that bedraggled human condition, if nothing else can be held in your hands.
Books. They have been the truest companion, the most accurate critic and the harshest lover—never allowing one to walk away from ugly bedfellows like truth and loss. I cursed Austen for making marriage the point of it all, learned more about men from Hemingway, Kundera, Diaz and Chabon than from anyone who might love me in return. I shaped visions of the terrible future from the pen of Orwell, Bradbury and Huxley. I cried—finally understanding the power of brevity—into the creases of Hempl, Carver and Jane Anne Phillips. I wrestled (and still do) with Nietzsche, Kant and Kierkegaard. And here I haven’t even touched on human rights, reason, feminism, power and love.
We are what we consume, they say. But we are also what we choose to actively share. Inspired by a recent blog post of Seth Godin entitled You Are What You Share, I got to thinking about my commitment to sharing the written word. After all, we shape our definition of culture with the opinions and perspectives of those who advocate what they love. The role of the critic in society has vastly changed given the power of media and other instruments of opinion, everyone has a voice that lends itself to the collective scholarship of perspective. With this in mind, I set out to share literature with anyone paying attention, or seeking to do so. From my library to yours.
Hand-Curated Reading Lists & Libraries
If you are looking to read more, seeking intellectual growth, have a reading goal for the year, or simply want to start again but don’t know where to begin—this is for you. Based on a simple but outrageous questionnaire and your aspirations for reading, I will create an approachable reading list for your literary palette. It takes away the guesswork and ensures that your emotional and analytical horizons will be expanded. Think of it as similar to those "required reading" lists you received from professors in college, only sexier and built specifically for you. And then—list in hand—I will force you to purchase the books from your local independent bookstore. You’ll love it.
Likewise, if you’ve come into an unexpected or mysterious fortune and are looking to expand your library to an impressive stature, or even to match a set of books to that tangerine-hued couch you inherited from Aunt Irene—I can do that too.
Book Club Events & Literary Salons
A book club event does not have to be a bunch of ladies (seriously gentlemen, where are you?) sitting around a ghastly large hunk of cheddar discussing Gone Girl between bites of gossip and sighs of palpable discontentment. Reading is alluring and built around narrative, so the same should apply to your lettered event. If you have always wanted to start a book club, join a serious one, or host a literary salon but don’t know here to get started—this is for you. Proust should be discussed over hot-from-the-pan madeleines and tea, Joyce over pints of Irish beer and unleavened crackers with a bowl of shaving cream as a centerpiece. Faulkner requires heavy doses of patience, whiskey cocktails, boiled peanuts and perhaps a playlist featuring anthemic, gothic tunes that lend themselves to the book's themes. I’m dreaming of something outrageous and already got you started on the tunes.
The Sound and the Fury Playlist
- For those of you who have already been receiving these services for years free of charge, please remit payment immediately.
- For a limited time only and while supplies last, I’m lending my bookish musings gratis. If more people still read than I anticipate (let it be so), tell your friends, spread the word and we’ll see if we can’t make something out of this (read: dividends for me; literary delight for you).