It’s been about a week since I turned twenty-four, and in all that time the Universe has seen fit to test if I’m up to this whole living-with-sanity-and-inner-chillness business. That is to say: Holy fuck, I had—have been having?—one of the worst weeks ever. And because we are who we are, I am consoling myself with books—with the fond remembrance of these little units of boundless pleasure, acquired as they were by money. Mmm. At least with my bookshelves, there is an approximation of rightness.
Right. So. The annual [utterly ridiculous] National Bookstore sale would coincide with payday and my birthday weekend. I said goodbye to my twenty-third year with a bang, which really just involved throwing a lot of money and alcohol and good company and good vibes at it. So, without further ado—here’s some amazing books that are all mine:
These kinds of sales usually have me grabbing books that I’ve always wanted to read (or just, ya know, own) or books that I’ve always wondered about but would always be less of a priority in the books-to-acquire list. So there’s a nice helping of Eloisa James’ earlier romance novels (in their breathtaking Hutton editions), and a romance written by Meg Cabot (I’d only read one of her historical romances before, back in the days of yore, but I really liked it and am glad for this). There are two books by Stephen King, that ol’ lovable coot—The Green Mile, which I’d read when I was in my early teens, having nabbed the copies from my mother; and Blockade Billy, which I hadn’t even heard of, but it was a pretty edition and stop judging me, god. I’ve got two books by Joe Hill—I’d read Horns the week before and I had too much fun to pass on Heart-Shaped Box and his newest, NOS4A2. I also got Night Film by Marisha Pessl, even though I absolutely loathed Special Topics in Calamity Physics. Right.
And the hardcover of Eleanor Catton’s abso-fucking-lutely brilliant The Rehearsal is now all mine—never mind that I already have the paperback. I suppose it’ll tide me over until her behemoth that is The Luminaries finally hits these shores. The Thorn and the Blossom by Theodora Goss is there because I’d always been curious about its oddness (rest assured, I have level expectations about the actual story). I got Sarah Hall’s collection of short stories (I have fond memories of her How to Paint a Dead Man); Richard Dawkins’ The Selfish Gene (because science is science, but god, Mr. Dawkins, take a chill pill once in a while); I got Mary Roach’s Packing for Mars (because Roach is, I realize, among the writers-of-the-mundane-or-odd that I enjoy); I got Zadie Smith’s collection of essays Changing My Mind (because I realize I’ve always gotten along more with her commentary than with her fiction). Oh, and John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars is there, too, and at last—after putting it off for the longest time—because I was deathly afraid of having the movie tie-in edition.
To round of the birthday weekend books—bless you, obscenely discounted reading material: I also got myself the Philippine edition of Gina Apostol’s The Gun Dealers’ Daughter (which I’d already finished reading a couple of days ago. And I’m reading the novelization of Pacific Rim by Alex Irvine—a good companion to Travis Beacham’s Tales from Year Zero graphic novel, which I devoured just yesterday. To stuff I’ve always wanted to try: The first two books of Catheyrnne M. Valente’s Fairyland series, and Alan Hollinghurst The Line of Beauty. And then I bought more books.
All of the above, added to the graphic novels I’ve been amassing at an alarming rate. Damn you, new preoccupations! So among the things I’ve been getting by rationalizing, “Well, it’s for my birthday!”—there’s Frank Miller’s (and David Mazzucchelli’s!) Batman: Year One, Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s goddamned Batman: The Long Halloween, the Heroes graphic novels by Tim Sale, and I’ve finally completed all the Trese books by Budjette Tan and Kajo Baldisimo. Goodbye, hard-earned money; hello, insolvency!
And then I bought more books. That’s Lorrie Moore’s Who Will Run the Frog Hospital; another Stephen King, because although I worship the creeptastic movie, I haven’t ever read The Shining (besides, the sequel Doctor Sleep is coming soon!); Ray Bradbury’s woefully underrepresented in my shelves, so Something Wicked This Ways Comes might help with that; and since I am a crazy fan of Alberto Manguel’s on-books writing, I’ve been curious about his fiction.
And then! Jenny Ashworth’s A Kind of Intimacy, which I’ve been curious about ever since I first discovered Europa Editions and their catalog—and sweet baby pandas, new NYRB Classics to join the lengthening rainbow on my shelves: Dwight MacDonald’s Masscult and Midcult, Albert Cossery’s Proud Beggars, Upamanyu Chatterjee’s English, August, and William Lindsay Gresham’s Nightmare Alley (a double, but it’s got to be one of the best books I’ve ever read). (I really ought to go back to NYRBs.)
And then I bought, at long last, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books—to replace the ones I’d read growing up and which have now been scattered to the winds. Because, well, to be all gooey about it: J.K.’s always said that Hogwarts would always be there to welcome us home—and I direly need some home right now. Besides, what better way to give being 24 a fuck-you-and-fuck-off than having Harry Potter and his gang as new totems?
Right. That’s what’s been happening to my wallet and to my bookshelves. You all just really needed to see the pictures—I fully understand if you just skipped my completely unnecessary rundown (and rationalizing). I don’t know. I guess I just needed reminding that, hey: Little joys are here and there; I just have to fucking write them down. And maybe remind myself, too, of the boundless cheer of days past, and these books bought in anticipation of a future of inner-chill perfect for actually settling down to read.