01: A Kind of Introduction

In which our heroine tells you why she's here and why she's inviting you to join her

I guess the first issue of a newsletter needs some kind of an introduction, no? Who am I; why am I here; what will I write about; what is the answer to life, the universe, and everything, etc.

A Kind of Introduction

Hi. I’m Emma. Here are a list of the various ways I identify (in no particular order): bookseller, reader, writer, podcaster, former-cat-mom-now-cat-aunt, queer, Ravenclaw, type-A, Taurus, ENFJ, book hoarder, spreadsheet lover, Oxford comma enforcer.

(photo by Graham Shutt)

I’m writing this newsletter because, as a bookseller, I come across a lot of books I hope to one day read. Sometimes I take a picture of them, write them down in my notebook, add them to my reading spreadsheet, buy them right away, or try (and often fail) to remember them all. In my journal I keep an index of the books I mention (quotes, opinions, etc) in entries. This index has become a kind of map of my reading life, and I love that. I’m hoping this newsletter will become a map of my wish-I-were-reading life.

Ok, but why a newsletter? Well, I’m kind of obsessed with Nick Hornby’s column “Stuff I’ve Been Reading,” published in The Believer. Of his work I’ve only read High Fidelity so I’m no huge fan of Hornby, except I am because I love this column. I would read the collected works Ten Years in the Tub over and over again if there weren’t so much else in my TBR pile/shelf/spreadsheet. I heard he’s started it up again and I’m thinking about subscribing to The Believer just for that. For some reason I love getting a peak into another reader’s reading life. I thought other people may enjoy that too, but from me & about the books I’m not reading (but want to be reading), you know:

All the Books I’ll Never Read

(Or that I’ll hopefully read someday, but not now. Except that title is way less catchy.)

Our Lady of the Dark Country: Stories by Sylvia V. Linsteadt

I literally just heard of this book two hours ago. A customer came in to pick up their special order. The back cover reads:

In this collection of short stories, poems, and a novella, Sylvia V. Linsteadt explores the roots of patriarchal conquest in ancient Europe, and the possibility of something wholly different in both the deep past and the deep future. These are tales of women's power, of a strength rooted in the dark of the moon and the nourishing soil.

I am a sucker for

  1. short story collections

  2. feminine power

  3. general witchiness

  4. anything mentioning the moon

  5. telling the patriarchy to go fuck itself

So, yeah, this seems totally up my alley.

Never Learn Anything From History: A Collection of Comics by Kate Beaton

I saw the horse on the back cover of this book and did a double-take. Kate Beaton has a collection I’ve never heard of? Yes indeed, printed prior to her more well-known collections Hark a Vagrant and Step Aside, Pops. I found this while browsing the shelves at a friends house (trying to figure out how she organizes her books). I love the irreverent way her comics depict life, history, and ‘capital-L Literature’ Plus I feel like I basically get classics like Wuthering Heights without actually having read them. Thanks, Kate!

Feminist Theory and the Study of Folklore ed. by Susan Hollis, Linda Pershing, and Jane M. Young

That same friend has a shelf that I surmised to be the feminism/fairy tales/religion section. This book was on it. Honestly, I didn’t even flip through it. I will probably never read it. But I took a picture of it because I have this unfulfilled obsession with feminist theory and folklore—two separate (well, kind of) obsessions that have been married by this book (and loads of others, I know). By unfulfilled obsession I mean I buy books about, or keep lists of, feminist theory and also folklore. One day, surely, I will sit down and read the fairy tale, folklore, and mythology books I’ve been collecting; I will actually follow the self-created feminist theory syllabus that lives in my head. And then I’ll write a collection of feminist fairy tales (like that’s never been done before). It’s an ideal self—it’s a thing I say I’m interested in, with the books to back it up, but please don’t quiz me on it.

Currently Reading

I just finished Let Me Tell You by Shirley Jackson, a collection of new stories, essays, and other writings, edited by two of her children. I loved reading her early stories, but my real favorites are her essays about life, motherhood, and writing. Her idiosyncrasies are so endearing; I could not stop giggling while reading this. A favorite quote:

I’m going to get back all the books I ever lost, if I can find enough skulls

What a motherfucking badass witch she was.

Small Acts of Resistance

(Or one way I’m fighting back, and so can you)

I recently read One Person No Vote by Carol Anderson, which is a clear explanation of why our democracy seems to be breaking down (spoiler alert: it seems to be breaking down because it is). See, under the guise of protecting democracy from so-called voter fraud, the GOP is undermining it with terrifying voter suppression tactics. Anderson’s book (which is 36% notes and citations—aka extremely well-researched) will not tell you how to fight back—that’s not her job. But it will give you the facts and inspiration you need to fight back (I know, I naïvely still believe that facts make a difference).

If you have any doubts about ‘voter fraud’ and voter suppression, read this book and then pass it along to friends (and enemies and strangers). I’m not a one-issue voter, but I do think this may be the number one issue; every issue depends on who is in power and right now our elected officials are not representative of most Americans because so many Americans are being barred from their right to vote. Remember, voting is still a right, not a privilege; let’s keep it that way. And hey, it’s election day, so don’t forget to vote.

Other Ways to Find Me On the Internets

Once a month (or so) I host a podcast called Drunk Booksellers where my best friend and I interview a fellow bookseller while drinking. I sometimes tweet about books and politics. I sometimes post pictures of books I’m reading, or cats I’m hanging out with on Instagram.

Subscribe to this newsletter here.

NOTE: Most book links go to Indiebound so you can shop local via the Internet. Also, they are affiliate links so if you purchase something I get a teeny tiny kickback (which goes towards my podcast because why have two affiliate accounts). Why shop local? Long answer: Here are a bunch of economic impact studies about the importance of shopping local. Short answer: bookstores are good/warm/lovely places that add so much value to the community, but they are also businesses, which cannot survive if you’re not shopping there.
Thanks to Lara Kaminoff for the cat mascot, Giles. Find more of her work here. Follow her on Instagram here.