Our Bookshelves Don’t Look Like an Instagram Photo

Half-jokingly, I suggested to Mr. Nemo that we use our time at home (government-prescribed, but necessary) to turn our bookcases into a Bookstagram pic.

“What’s Bookstagram?”

“Mostly pictures of books.”  I don’t quite get it myself, and my password is long-lost, but it seems to be a part of Instagram where  readers photograph their books as adorably as possible, and if they are adorable, too, they post pictures of themselves.  (I have read that paid models do some of this”Bookstagramming” under feigned names.)

Sometimes the shelves are color-coded.  Yes, they put all their red books together, orange books together etc. What a nightmare!  Others organize by collection. So we decided to put our Library of America books together.

I love sorting books, and it is easy to find LOAs, because they have black covers.  Still, the effect wasn’t quite as I hoped.  It looked too much like a bookstore, nothing like Bookstagram.  And the next day I awoke to find Mr. Nemo  packing up more of our books to make more room for whatever our next collection might be. 

With quavering voice, I said, “But what if I want to read Updike or Undset?  I’ll never find them.”

All over the country, I imagine people converting their energy into unnecessary projects like this one.  And someone  in Salt Lake City or Champaign-Urbana is disconcerted because her favorite books are now stored in that closet that doesn’t open unless you roll up the rug and then wrench the stuck door.

All right, this really happened, but it is also kind of a joke.

Stay well!  And here are links to two interesting articles. 

Five Massive SFF Books to Read While You’re Social-Distancing

Thucydides and the plague of Athens – what it can teach us now

A Color-Coordinated TBR: Minae Mizumura, Julie Berry, George Gissing, & Joy Williams

Gorgeous Instagram photos!  How do they do it?

Bookstagram hypnotizes me.  Photos of pretty books, photos of pretty books and pretty tea cups, photos of pretty bookshelves, photos of manicured hands holding  pretty books…  Pretty feminine.

And so I decided to color-coordinate my TBR.

“You won’t.  You’re not fun,” said my cousin. She is fun when she’s not in rehab.  And she curates the library’s Instagram account.

“I am fun.”

“You took a picture of the books in the library dumpster.”

“That’s fun undercover reporting!”

I am not posting a fun pic of the perfectly fine set of Encyclopedia Britannica I found in the dumpster.  You know why?  Because I am fun.

I yanked some matching books off my shelves, but everything in my photo looks rumpled.  Julie Berry’s  Y.A. novel, Lovely War, and Japanese novelist Minae Mizumura’s The Fall of Language in the Age of English, a book about English language dominance, obviously belong together. The colors!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

I bought  Julie Berry’s Lovely War, because Entertainment Weekly described it as “a retelling of the Aeneid.” In the first 65 pages, there are references to Homer and Hesiod but none to Virgil.  (Perhaps the reviewer got her poems mixed up.)  But the gods pull the strings in human relationships: the  goddess Aphrodite, caught in flagrante delicto with Ares and “bagged like  a chicken” by her husband Hephasetus,  explains she is the source of love but never in love.  And she  tells the story of bringing together three musicians and a soldier during World War I.

Minae Mizumura is the author of one of my favorite books, A True Novel, a brilliant Japanese retelling of Wuthering Heights.  Fandom is why I bought The Fall of Language in the Age of English.  So far I am mesmerized  by the  essay “Under the Blue Sky of Iowa,” which revolves around her month in Iowa City on some kind of International Writers’ Workshop fellowship. I know Iowa City well, so would be fascinated even if it weren’t for her description sof the other international authors.  And many are writing in languages with few readers.

I found more matching books on my shelves:  the 19th-century novel Eve’s Ransom by George Gissing, an olive green Dover, and the muted brown 40th-Anniversary edition of Joy Williams’s novel The Changeling.

The N.B. column in the TLS recommended Eve’s Ransom. And I love Joy Williams’s short stories.  You can read an excerpt from Karen Russell’s introduction to  Williams’ novel The Changeling in The New Yorker.

The  Instagram folks are skillful photographers!