Famous people read books too. Or pose in front of them, at least.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

The New York Times did an article last week concerning celebrity shelfies. Evidently during certain speaking engagements, celebrities have been using books as backdrops and sharp-eyed viewers have been picking apart their contents. Some results are surprising, some are not.

Most of the results are rather bland (maybe Cate Blanchett really likes reading the OED?), but I did add a few books to my to-read shelf on Goodreads. Carla Hayden in particular had an interesting book spotted on her shelf called “Heart of Ngoni” by Harold Courlander & Ousmane Sako that I may try and squeeze in soon. I haven’t read anything from Africa yet.

Prince Charles’ fascination with horses simultaneously surprises me and does not. He seems like a horse guy.

The New York Times: What Do Famous People’s Bookshelves Reveal?

How interesting the places not here.

I’m fascinated with other cultures. My list of books read about places other than America spans across so many different countries and time periods that I’m not sure I could list them all right now. Historical fiction, non-fiction, memoirs, I don’t discriminate.

In particular, a lot of my bookish cultural wanderings take me to places in Asia. I’m not sure why, but each of the distinct countries in Asia feel so especially exotic to me. I’ve read many non-fiction and memoir books from North Korean refugees. I love Haruki Murakami’s fiction. I have a ton of Chinese historical fiction read and yet to read on my Goodreads shelf. Something about the extremely varied culture of the region really interests me in a way I can’t pin down.

In any case, while browsing the Goodreads Giveaways for this week, Lori Qian’s How Sweet the Bitter Soup leaped out at me as something I should keep on my to read radar. The cover is very appealing to my minimilistic preferences, and the short summary on Goodreads really hits all the right notes for me. From the short information available, it sounds like a memoir about an American taking care of her parents ends up transplanted in China through a teaching position. It sounds like the author learns a lot about herself through the journey, which I can appreciate.

Now if only my wallet kept up with my literary travels, I’d have a whole lot more to write about.

Refuse to Choose! Or, my justification for a messy shelf.

Here on the island of misfit projects…

After kvetching about not having anything to do this month, a friend asked, “What sort of creative project would you like to accomplish?” I lined up a whole postit note of things, ranging from learning how to knit to photography. Instead of being motivated for a creative project, I was tasked this week with reading Barbara Sher’s Refuse to Choose! by that same friend. I’m not sure how to take that.

I’m almost positive this is my first self help book I’ve ever read, and just the fact that I felt the need to explain myself shows how much I avoid the genre. It’s a vast sea of motivational posters, cash grabs, and don’t-do-stupid-things-with-your-money advice that just never had anything for me. Because I respect my friend’s advice, though, I’m giving it a shot.

I’m currently a third of the way through, and I find myself nodding along with a lot of what’s being presented to me. I’ve learned that I’m (supposedly) a “scanner”, or someone who dabbles in a lot of different things because our minds are (supposedly) wired differently. I start projects and don’t finish them. I have project ideas and don’t act on them. I enjoy my job because I never really know what I’m going to be doing on a daily basis. Creative solutions are my jam. “Boredom is excruciating” the author states, something me and this blog can attest to. I also am afraid of anything less than perfection, so the vast majority of my projects are never completed. Despite that, I’m also afraid of never completing a project and never leaving a mark that I ever existed. It’s a strange world in the mind of a (supposedly) “scanner”, and this book has been mildly uncomfortable to read.

There’s not a lot in the way of scientific fact in the book, and even the term “scanner” is coined by the author herself, so it’s hard to say how much of this is actually true. At the point of the book where I’m at there’s been a lot of self-affirmation and encouragement that being a “scanner” isn’t wrong, but not a lot in the way of steps to take from here. She suggests making a “Scanner Daybook”, which essentially is just a notebook of ideas and projects you’re supposed to write in daily, as well as writing prompts and such while you’re reading her book. I haven’t been keeping one because I’m not sure how badly I need it.

So I guess this is just a meandering way of saying that I’m cautiously enjoying this book, if only for the self affirmation and encouragement to keep half-starting projects and not actually completing anything. This blog wouldn’t exist if I wasn’t reading the book, I don’t think. How meta.

Why We’re All Here.

Cleo, 2020. Smoosh.

Hi.

Welcome to my inaugural post, in which I explain why we’re all actually here. Or something.

I am a fickle person. I have ideas at random times of the day (and night), and feel compelled to act on them. So it was with this blog, which came to me as a 2:30am idea and would not let me sleep until I acted on it.

I’ve really wanted to connect with book people. I love my friends dearly, but none of them are book people, through no fault of theirs. We’ve just got different tastes, and isn’t it cool that we can be different and still friends? So it was within the last six months that I’ve struck out, trying to connect with other people who also love books. I joined a great Discord server (shout out to the Book Lover’s Club) and found many great book-y friends there! But I still felt like something was missing.

I tried streaming book-y things on Twitch for a couple months. I learned several things, namely that I’ll never be a professional audiobook narrator, and that the Just Chatting section of Twitch is just not the greatest place ever. I read all of A Christmas Carol and Treasure Island and part of Sherlock Holmes on Twitch before hanging it up. I still have a pirate hat and a distinct way of saying “bah, humbug!” to show for it.

So here we all are. I’m hoping to use this blog to post book reviews, to post book thoughts about things I’m reading, and to post other book-ish things. I work at a library, so also expect neat library images that I liked a lot from places I wish I worked at. I realize the book blog sphere is quite saturated, but I’m just wanting to do my own thing, for whatever good that does you and I.

Feel free to leave comments, I’ll try and engage where I can.