This is the title of a book I got for Christmas. Yes, it was on my wishlist. Because I am in my twenties. And it’s kind of weird.
The book actually has that asterisk. I guess you’re not allowed to actually write “fuck” on a book cover, because Go the F*ck to Sleep had the same thing. CENSORSHIP. PROTECT US FROM THE DIRTY WORDS PLEASE, BECAUSE THEY’RE THE REAL PROBLEM AROUND HERE!!!
You might not be surprised to hear that things have been a little bit crazy lately. Between the holidays and visiting family, the emotional mess I became in the few weeks before the holidays (for no reason, really), the unusual work schedule, and the weather (it turns out I actually hate winter, so, yeah), I feel like I haven’t had a chance to really relax pretty much since Thanksgiving.
That’s all about how I spend my time, though. I need to figure out how to manage time and money effectively. Less procrastination. In my last year of college I resolved to do my homework as soon as possible and never put it off. That didn’t happen, of course, but I think I finished everything at least the day before it was due. Unfortunately, I have no actual deadlines to work with now…
I would really like to spend January on vacation. I don’t mean out of town, away on some tropical island somewhere–although I guess that would be nice too. I was actually thinking staycation. Because all I want to do right now is nurse my creativity. I want to read all these books I’ve had around, many for over a year now, and absorb the literature and the art. I also want to re-read Memoirs of Hadrian and The Waves, both fantastic books I’ve only read once. I need to finish Pride and Prejudice, finally, and read at least some of the entries from History of the World in 100 Objects. I got it as a present a long time ago, because I claimed to want it very very much, and I haven’t actually read a single word of it.
And then I want to delve into the stories in my head. There are so many, and they’re tired of being unseen. It’s like my productivity as a writer is a frozen river; it’s flowing, but I just can’t get to it through this layer of ice.
That ice is day-to-day life. It’s an 8-hour work day plus an hour of commute at each end. It’s forcing myself out of bed in the morning when I’m still so tired, and trying to get through the morning quickly enough that I’ll get to work on time (sometimes…). It’s those evenings when you get home and make dinner, and do the dishes, and then take a shower, and then you pretty much only have time to go to bed.
Because I spend way more time complaining about all this stuff than actually taking steps to improve my life, I feel the need to make a certain point here: this stuff is a lot easier for some people. Plenty of people wake up on time (even if they don’t enjoy it) and they go through their work day and they get home and are productive in their free time. I suspect that these people are well-adjusted ones who had mostly happy adolescences and were never lonely or excluded, because they were “normal.”
I am not one of those people. For me, the idea of coming home after work and cleaning and writing and doing the things I want to do that would make life nicer in general is at times quite impossible. Making some kind of sandwich melt in the toaster oven and then watching shows on hulu for three hours always seems so much simpler and more attainable of a goal.
But I’ve got Resolutions this year! (One of them is making the updates to this blog I talked about in an earlier post.) I’m thinking of them as Non-New Year’s Resolutions, because I don’t think New Year’s Resolutions actually work. I’m planning to make a youtube video about it and posting it early in January… I’ll link it, so keep an eye out if you’re interested. In a nutshell, my resolutions are about getting off my ass and actually trying to do the things I want to do. But it’s more particular than that.
With a reluctant sigh, I guess I should get back to that “life” now and get something done…
Recently, I decided to check one of many endeavors off of my “like-to-do” list (not a bucket list, as for me that would be comprised of things that would be a little harder to accomplish), and I hopped on a train to downtown Boston to explore the Brattle Book Shop.
Brattle Book Shop is a used bookstore just a stone’s throw from Boston Common. It’s been around since 1825. Seriously. You can get more info at the link above.
The first thing you’ll notice about Brattle is the outdoor section of the bookstore. In the alley next to the building, shelves line the walls to the right and left. Luckily it was a sunny, somewhat mild day when I decided to venture there, so I was able to browse these books for a little while. The books on the left side shelves are all $3; the other side, $5.
I didn’t take the time to scour every title. I rarely have the patience for that. I just scanned a good number of shelves until I had found a few books I wanted to buy. There was quite a range of books, from totally obscure titles that could only interest a niche audience to very popular books, like volumes of Harry Potter and James Joyce’s Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man.
Toward the back of the outdoor area, they also had this stack of cool painted doors, all book-themed designs. I’m not entirely certain what they use them for, but I’m guessing they use them to close up the shelves when the store is closed, and maybe during the winter. I snapped a picture for reference. I’m sure there are many better pictures out there, but here you go…
Here are the books I picked up:
The first one I spotted was the Marguerite Yourcenar book. Granted, I had no idea who Mishima was, even though he was[is] very well-known (as Wikipedia told me), but I read Memoirs of Hadrian in college, and as a result have dubbed Yourcenar one of my favorite writers. I just had to get it. Tove Jansson was a name I remembered seeing quite a bit when I was working at the Harvard Coop. The Summer Book seemed like it would be the perfect thing to read in the coming months, so I snatched that one up. The last title is an illustrated edition of The Three Musketeers from the ’50s. It’s not valuable or anything, or it would have been in the rare book room instead of the $3 wall. As you might have guessed, it’s an abridged version. it just seemed like a fun thing to own, and I thought the illustrations were pretty cool.
I decided three books was a good amount. I stepped inside to pay, first having a quick look around the inside of the store. I didn’t take too much time inside, but I can say that they had a very wide selection, on shelves reaching up to the ceiling. Fiction was on the first floor, along with a few other categories. Scholarly books were mostly on the second floor. The rare book room was also on the second floor. I didn’t check it out this time around, I think I was just to nervous at the prospect of being in a room with so many valuable books. I did have a glance over the huge posters they had stuck all over the wall leading up to the second floor showing some of the rare books they had sold and the prices they’d gone for. I think the least expensive one was $250. They even once had a first edition Cat in the Hat. Cool.
I would recommend this store to anyone who might be looking for rare books (to buy or not), and to anyone who enjoys weeding through shelves to find something unexpected, unfamiliar, a discovery for your home library. It’s definitely a worthwhile book-lover’s outing. In addition, it’s surrounded by many restaurants as well as being very close to the Boston Common. You could get a book, then grab a sandwich or something, head on over to the grass and settle in for a picnic with your new literary find. Hell, that sounds lovely. I think I’m going to do it sometime this summer.