Archive of ‘bookish’ category

The Re-Shelvening

Whole Shelf

I don’t quite recall when we first installed this spacious landscape of shelves into my office, but what I can assure you is that they have been amassing quite a lot of junk ever since! (The above is an “after” photo, and as you’ll see, I still have a lot of junk.)

It occurred to me that there was a great deal of empty space just begging to be filled with all of the books that were lying around the house because the other bookshelves were already dangerously full. I figured hey, I’ll take this opportunity in finding a home for all the wayward books, to do a bit of organizing…and who knows…maybe that will clear up space for more books!

I posted a few photos on Instagram of this process and several folks requested that I share some lists of the titles I was reorganizing. I am happy to! See below for a shelf-by-shelf breakdown of what got moved where and why, my probably-logical-only-to-me reorganization system, and where to find each of the books if you want them for your own shelves.

Haunted Anthologies

A shelf of mostly haunted anthologies that have covers illustrated by Edward Gorey.

The Ghost In The Far Garden
Ghostly Gentlewomen
Bewitched Beings
Cat Encounters
Grande Dames Of Detection
Ladies Of The Gothics
Sisters Of Sorcery
Baleful Beasts
The Haunted Dolls
Ghosts
Vampires
My Heart’s In Greenwich Village

Weird

A shelf of the weird, the uncanny, the psychotic, the satanic.

Satanic Feminism
The Horror Reader
Satanic Panic
The Uncanny
Monsters Of Our Own Making
House Of Psychotic Women
Lost Girls: The Phantasmagorical Cinema Of Jean Rollin
Vampira: Dark Goddess Of Horror
HP Lovecraft: A Life
Uncanny Reader
Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life
Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection

Poetry

A shelf of poetry that didn’t fit on the other poetry shelf, zines, and weird booklets that defy categorization. And a funny little goblincat to watch over it all. Also, the best candle.

Best Bones
Paperdoll Fetus
A Red Witch, Every Which Way
Dear Jenny, We Are All Find
Swan Feast 
Bestiary
Dream Date With A Villain
Dream Date With A Villain Vol. 2
Forever Doomed
Witch Women
Die Mensur (not sure of availability)
Morbid Fantasies (only available as PDF)
The Occult Activity Book (not available)
The Occult Activity Book Vol. 2 (not available)
Sound Of Snow Falling
Hera Lindsay Bird
Bruja
I Miss The World
The Impossible Fairy Tale
The Atheist Wore Goat Silk
Literary Witches
Teaching My Mother To Give Birth
Milk And Honey
Ask Baba Yaga
Bags (This is by the Over The Garden Wall guy; not sure on availability)

perfumeA shelf for perfume and the dark arts.

Italy’s Witches And Medicine Women
The Ultimate Guide To Tarot Card Meanings
Cosmos, Chaos And The World To Come
The Black Arts
Victoria Regina Tarot Companion
Season of the Witch: How the Occult Saved Rock and Roll
Satanic Alchemy: Atrocities Of Gilles de Rais
The Secret Of Scent
Essence And Alchemy
The Emperor Of Scent
Perfumes: The A-Z Guide
The Tarot Bible

writing

A shelf on writing, creativity, journals…and my mother’s cremains in a teacup.

What It Is
On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
A Year Of Creative Writing Prompts
A Short Guide To Writing About Art
Ghost Stories And How To Write Them
Artful Sentences: Syntax As Style

cookbooks

A shelf of cookbooks, recipes, eating and drinking. Some of these things are not like the others.

Cannibal Kitchen: A Horror Lovers Cookbook
Whistle Stop Cafe Cookbook
Damn Fine Cherry Pie: And Other Recipes from TV’s Twin Peaks
Feeding Hannibal: A Connoisseur’s Cookbook
Death Warmed Over: Funeral Food, Rituals, and Customs from Around the World
Square Meals
My Kitchen Year: 136 Recipes That Saved My Life
Smuggler’s Cove: Exotic Cocktails, Rum, and the Cult of Tiki
Death & Co: Modern Classic Cocktails
The Zombies That Ate Pittsburgh
Son Of The Martini Cookbook
Chas Addams Half-Baked Cookbook
The Death Row Cookbook
The Cannibal’s Cookbook
Decadent Cookbook
The Dark Shadows Cookbook

deathThe Death & Stuff shelf.

Fashion Victims
Death’s Summer Coat
Rest in Pieces: The Curious Fates of Famous Corpses
Dr. Mutter’s Marvels
Morbid Anatomy Anthology
Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers
Smoke Gets in Your Eyes: And Other Lessons from the Crematory
Bitten by Witch Fever: Wallpaper & Arsenic in the Nineteenth-Century Home
From Here to Eternity: Traveling the World to Find the Good Death

altar incense perfume samples

And the rest of the shelves…well…they’re a bit of a work in progress. There’s my mom altar, my shelf of incense, potions, and elixirs, and then an entire shelf dedicated to perfume samples! And as you can see from the photo at the very top of this post, there’s still a few shelves that need some work; they’re in odd or hard to reach spots with relation to my desk and where I sit, and so right now they are home to weird little action figures and toys that still need some sorting.

…so that’s it! And in case you are wondering: yes. Yes, I did clear some space to make room for even more books.

Four Books For December

4 books

I am currently in the beginning pages of four books which –so far!– are equally wonderful. I’m not far enough into the stories to tell you much about them, but they are all magical, for good or ill, and I am enjoying them each immensely!

If you are the type to judge a book by it’s very excellent cover or if your tastes are similar to mine, which is to say you love ghosts and fairy tales and terror and enchantment and you treasure lyrical language and mysterious stories and beautiful illustrations…well, I don’t think you’d be steered wrong if you picked up any or all of these books to curl up with before the year ends.

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📚 Satania by Vehlmann & Kerascoet
📚 Winnebago Graveyard by by Steve Niles &‎ Alison Sampson
📚 Snow And Rose by Emily Winfield Martin
📚 A Trip To The Stars by Nicholas Christopher

How To Wear A Bookstack

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Well, I don’t know about you, but when I have a Saturday afternoon all to myself and a pile of books crying for my undivided attention, I go all out. It’s true. I will slip into my most splendid finery, don my sparkliest baubles, paint my face, spritz myself with the most expensive fragrances on my shelf (sometimes maybe three or four at once!) and then…plop down on the sofa and begin reading long into the night.

Is that weird? I don’t know. I often get all dressed up to spend the day alone, and there’s no finer reason to do so than in the name of devouring a much anticipated stack of books. Here’s a suggested ensemble for the next time you have the marvelous opportunity to get all gussied up for your bookstack. (With some required reading, of course!)

bookstack list

1. Louisianna Purchase tee $35 // 2. Black pleated skirt $38 // 3. Paige cropped velvet jacket $400 // 4. Altuzarra ankle boots $1310 // 5. Gerbe Paris By Night tights $55 // 6. Hopeless Into The Night collection $65-$170 // 7. Maison Michel Lace Bow Rabbit Ears $519 // 8. Well Read Woman pouch $10 // 9. Swankmetalsmithing evil eye ring $625+ // 10. Goldengrove Dust To Dust ring $150 // 11. Bloodmilk Belonging To The Darkness ring (discontinued) // 12. Tiger’s Eye bracelet $200 // 13. Pamela Love rosary $225 // 14. Bloodmilk mourning strand $250 // 15. Goldengrove onyx skull ring $545 // 16. Smith & Cult Shattered Souls nail lacquer $18 // 17. Rituel de Fille Frenzy inner glow pigment $29 // 18. Jardins d’Ecrivains Wilde Eau de Parfum $110

The Books…
Paperbacks From Hell: The Twisted History of ’70s and ’80s Horror Fiction by Grady Hendrix
The Grip of It by Jac Jemc
Mapping The Interior by Stephen Graham Jones

Looking for more suggestions? See below and click on the images for details!

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Books 3

books 4

Currently {October 2017}

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It makes me very grumbly that Halloween is not an official holiday and that I actually have to preoccupy myself between the hours of 9-5 on this day with things that have nothing whatsoever to do with ghosts or monsters or candy. Who can we complain to about this?

Being old farts, my partner and I are forgoing spooky soirées (not that we’ve been invited to any tonight, come to think of it) and staying home to pass out treats, carve up pumpkins, and watch Monster Squad. Maybe drink some whiskey. I might not even wait until the last kid has rung the doorbell! We’ll see what kind of night it is.

skellington
hat

Speaking of soirées! I was actually invited to a Halloween party a few weeks ago, and I am shock–shocked!– to tell you that I had a fine time. I actually had fun. What! How can this be? Honestly, parties are pretty awful for me; I get anxious about a lot of things, but nothing sends me into panic attack mode faster than the thought of celebratory social interaction. I think what made this an okay experience is that I knew the hostess and had been to her home a number of times, I already knew most of the attendees in some capacity, and, well, I went with a date. Actually three! My sister, brother-in-law and partner were all there. Come to think of it, there was actually nothing to be nervous about. Huh. My costume, in case you couldn’t tell, was a skeletonwitch. Oh, what, you thought I was a panda? Are you blind or something? Unfortunately, this fabulous hat arrived after the event, but that’s fine. I’ll wear it while I’m watching Monster Squad and drunkenly carving children. Pumpkins, I mean. I’m not drinking already or anything.

cadabera

candles

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Though we’ve had some glorious weather these past few days with lower temperatures that lend to layers and cloaks and tights and cardigans, the beginning of October was pretty wretched, as this time of year tends to be. I felt sorry for myself and bought an obscene amount of autumnal candles, spooky records, and a number of haunting reads. Also some “trock or treat” socks from Korea.

lady weird
goblinfruit

A few additions to the gallery over the past month: a lovely petite bat lady from Lady Weird and this wondrously elegant Martyred for Love sculpture by Carisa Swenson of Goblinfruit Studio

mabon
altar2
altar1

Knits finished in the past month: all patterns by Caitlin Ffrench. A thick, cozy shawl {Mabon} from her Wheel book, and two smaller altar pieces, each finished in a day.

brekkie

Earlier in the month I spent the weekend with my best good friend in Orlando, who is moving out of state. I can’t believe she’s leaving, but we’ve been through this before. 15 or so years ago, I was the one who was leaving…and everything ended up being just fine. So, although I will miss her, I know this will just be a new phase in the adventure that is our weird and wonderful friendship. Anyway, she fixed the most amazing breakfast for me, during the course of our visit. Basically a toads in a hole slash avocado toast mashup. It may now be one of my top five favorite breakfasts.
Let me tell you about my other favorite breakfasts lately: rice with a little butter and soy sauce, topped with a runny fried egg and furikake; a “fake bagel”, which is basically a low calorie english muffin toasted and spread with laughing cow cheese, ripe tomato slices, red onion, and Trader Joe’s Everything But The Bagel seasoning, and salmon jerky. For real! Salmon jerky is amazing. Do you, like me, hate sweet breakfast offerings? Cereal, yogurt, most breakfast bars, etc.? Gah, they’re just the worst.

What are you up to this Halloween? Tricks? Treats? Napping with your cats and favorite monsters? That sounds pretty great, actually.

Autumn Earworms and Bookstacks

Sarah-stacked
Over at Haute Macabre today you will find a media extravaganza! Take a peek at Stacked to grow your autumn reading list and afterward, head on over to Aural Fixation to learn more about our current earworms and sonic obsessions!

Bonus: my pick for most dangerously, painfully haunted melodies of all time: The Parlour Trick’s A Blessed Unrest 

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Bonus no. 2:  My pick for otherworldly sonic explorations: Jill Tracy’s Immortal Collection

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What have you all been reading and/or listening to this October?

 

Literary Witches

Literary-Witches-book

Today over at Haute Macabre: a magical celebration of visionary female writers, Taisia Kitaiskaia and Katy Horan‘s Literary Witches! I can’t believe that I’ve been excited about this book for over a year now, and it was finally released yesterday!

Katy graciously indulged my questions about this curious compendium in our illuminating Q&A, (and I like to think that Taisia was there in spirit, too.) Thanks to them both, for conjuring these connections, channeling these women, creating this wonderfully special, utterly splendid book.

A Celebration Of Magical Woman Writers With Literary Witches

The Nocturnal Reader’s Box — Interview And Giveaway!

September unboxing photo by book.happy

September unboxing photo by book.happy

So as you may know (because I complain a lot) I have tried many, many subscription boxes over the past few years. And canceled all of them. None of them have measured up to the consistent excellence that is The Nocturnal Readers Box, a monthly subscription service for fans of Horror, Sci-Fi, Fantasy Books and Psychological Thrillers. Today at Haute Macabre you can my recent interview with founders Vincent and Jessica Guerrero, as well as a chance to win their sold out October box!

The Nocturnal Reader’s Box — Interview And Giveaway!

The Lost Books Of Summer: A Reading Challenge

FullSizeRenderAt the onset of summer I challenged myself to read at least 25 books over the months of June, July, and August. I have an overall yearly goal (which I have already met!) but I thought it might be fun to set a specific summer reading goal, a sort of challenge-within-a-challenge.

How did I do? Well, I was going strong until mid-August, at which point I was distracted by a barely perceptible (probably imaginary) change in the air, a slight difference in the quality of afternoon sunlight through the trees. In my brief stint in living up North, these small changes signified the seasonal shifts leading to the oncoming Autumn months…and even though that’s actually kind of cute and laughable down here in FL (if anything, it gets hotter here!) there’s still something in my brain that switches on right before September and begins to look the end of summer around every corner. When I catch wind of it, my fingers begin itching for a skein of wool and wooden needles, and then, well, too bad, so sad, summer reading!

In June I managed eleven titles; six in July, and in August another six, making for a grand total of twenty three books completed in the course of my summer reading mini-challenge. Two short of my goal! Ah, well. There were a few books that I started during that time, but I am still reading, so I don’t suppose those count. And then in September when I was trapped in the house for a few days with no electricity, I read three more, but those don’t really count either!

See below for a full listing of the titles I completed over the course of the past three months, along with those read in September, and those I am still reading. I have marked the ones I thoroughly enjoyed with an “*”, and you’ll note that Grady Henrix’s Paperbacks From Hell:The Twisted History of ’70s and ’80s Horror Fiction, even though I’ve not finished it, has quite a lot of *s. I think, even though it’s basically a book about books, that it’s going to be my favorite book of the year!

books

June:
Strangely Beautiful by Leanna Renee Hieber
Hunger by Roxane Gay*
Black Hole by Charles Burns
Snot Girl Volume One
Giant Days Volume Five
Jem and The Holograms Volume Four
Junji Ito’s Cat Diary: Yon & Mu*
Bleed
Monstress Vol. 2
The Graveyard Apartment*
Southern Cross

July:
The Lottery (graphic novel adaptation)
Rachel Rising Vols. 
fivesix, and seven
The Beguiled
Gilded Needles*

August:
Teaching My Mother How To Give Birth
My Pretty Vampire
One More Year*
Audition
Wet Moon*
The Complete Stories of Leonora Carrington*

Early September Hurricane Reads:
Clueless
The Grip of It*
Mapping The Interior*

Still Reading:
The Dark Eidolon And Other Fantasies
Witches, Sluts, And Feminists: Conjuring The Sex Positive
Season of the Witch: How The Occult Saved Rock and Roll
Lost Girls: The Phantasmagorical Cinema of Jean Rollin
Paperbacks From Hell:The Twisted History of ’70s and ’80s Horror Fiction ****

Becoming Dangerous

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My bold, beautiful, beloved friend Meredith just shared this Kickstarter project with me, and it’s such an important thing, a vitally, crucially important thing, that I am compelled to share it with you, too.

BECOMING DANGEROUS: A book about ritual and resistance, is comprised of twenty personal essays from witchy femmes, queer conjurers, and magical rebels on summoning the power to resist.

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Some words from the creators:

“BECOMING DANGEROUS is a nonfiction book of deeply personal essays by marginalised people using the intersection of feminism, witchcraft, and resistance to summon power and become fearsome in a world that would prefer them afraid. With contributions from twenty witchy femmes, queer conjurers, and magical rebels, BECOMING DANGEROUS is a book of intelligent and challenging essays that will resonate with anyone who’s ever looked for answers outside the typical places.

The latest book from Fiction & Feeling, a new and independent UK publishing company, the book is edited by Katie West, and Jasmine Elliott. From ritualistic skincare routines to gardening; from becoming your own higher power to searching for a legendary Scottish warrior woman; from the fashion magick of brujas to cripple-witch city-magic; from shoreline rituals to psychotherapy—this book is for people who know that now is the time, now is the hour, ours is the magic, ours is the power.”

Contributors for this book write for publications like The Guardian and The Paris Review; websites like Autostraddle, The Hoodwitch, VICE, Broadly, and Nylon; and have published books and journal articles with several different publishers.

Some identify as witches; others identify as writers, musicians, or artists. All of them have developed personal rituals to summon their own power and want to share these personal experiences of resistance and survival with you.

I have already backed this project; I cannot think of any book more worthy or deserving of my money right now, and I am absolutely certain that BECOMING DANGEROUS will similarly compel so many of you, too.

Make The Most Of Your Weird Library With The Arcane Art Of Bibliomancy

Bibliomancy-header

Amongst my acquaintances it would seem that we all appear to have a similar predicament with regard to the printed word: that is to say, an intense, almost obsessive acquisition of books. Whether for pleasure, research, or keeping up our nerdy/witchy Instagram appearances, we acquire stacks and piles of bound, printed matter much faster than we actually read through them.

No doubt if I were to quiz one of these friends at random they will admit, with a strange sort of embarrassed pride, that they have shelves upon shelves of unread novels–and yet there is an Amazon Prime parcel on their doorstep, a small press delivery on the way, and their virtual cart is brimming with another order ready to be placed. Oh, and they’ve just come back from a stroll through the musty, dim-lit shelves of a local used bookstore, and hey look, what a surprise–here’s a few more books.

What if I told you that you could use these mountains of books as more than doorstops and spider-squashers? What if I revealed to you a use for that collection of charming, old-timey ghost stories that has been gathering dust and cobwebs on your nightstand? Yes, yes, I know–you are going to read it eventually, and I do appreciate that sentiment: I’ve got the same book next to my bed that I’ve been too sleepy or too busy looking at my Twitter feed to actually pick up and peruse.

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You are no doubt familiar with the practice of divination, or, the seeking knowledge of the future or the unknown by supernatural means. One can foretell the future through cards, clouds, drops of mercury, even a pile of steaming entrails. Today, however, we are hitting the books for our divinatory purposes! Divination from books or verse is an ancient process known as bibliomancy and is sometimes used synonymously with the terms stichomancy (divination from lines) or rhapsodomancy (divination through a random passage of a poem).

There are, of course, different schools of thought as to how bibliomancy works. Originally, it was a means of seeking divine answers, and the most popular book used for this practice was American Psycho by Bret Easton Ellis (just kidding! It’s the Bible)–though this is not the only text that’s been used for this purpose. Other popular texts included the Aeneid of Virgil, the Iliad and the Odyssey of Homer, and The I Ching has also been used in a similar manner. Seekers of illumination would meditate upon their questions and blindly select a passage in the book, which supposedly would impart to them the divine wisdom they needed for the solution to their problem. In this theory, it is believed that one is led deliberately to their answers by some sort of higher power, or perhaps an angel, spirit guide, or aliens.

Other folks see it as more of a psychological enterprise—a means of communicating with your own damn higher self. Meaning, we most likely already contain the answers to our problems, we just can’t always easily tap into them due to all of the “mental filters” that we have built up through our lives and experiences, clouding our ability to see the issues clearly. By this ideology, it’s not really the book that contains any special or wondrous answers; you already know the solutions you seek, and the chosen passage just acts as a tool to help you access them.

But back to the books– you mustn’t feel compelled to use one of those “sacred” texts to practice bibliomancy. All that’s required is a book that speaks to you at that moment. This could be from the library, a new book you’ve purchased for this inaugural divinatory occasion, or something from your own bogged-down shelves. It could be a spiritual book, fiction, nonfiction, that smutty romance novel that sits on the back of your toilet, or even your beloved, dog-eared, 30-year-old stolen library copy of Harriet The Spy. The books you adore will have had an enormous influence on who you are and your beliefs. These beloved writings will have caused you to examine your own depths, encourage you to think in new ways, and eventually become part of who you are, which is why they are great vehicles for shedding light on the questions to which you are seeking answers.

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Let’s get started, shall we? In preparation for a bibliomantic ritual, give some thought as to the kind of question you want to ask: are you seeking romantic resolution or perhaps repairing a relationship? Or maybe you’re all like,”Love? Fuck that horseshit! Where did my great-great-grandpa bury that hidden treasure?” Perhaps you just want guidance on what to make for dinner tonight, but somehow opening an actual cookbook seems too mundane. Words taken out of their larger context could trigger something deeper than you imagine is possible. This could be the most amazing Monday night supper you’ve ever made!

Focus your question and find your book. Trail your fingertips along the spines of those lonely, mostly unread books (again, no judgment) and see what calls to you. The titles themselves can often reflect how you are feeling, or coincide with a situation you have been dealing with. Maybe the embossed detailing tickles your fancy. Maybe the cracked, faded lettering on your dear copy of The Complete Grimoire of Pope Honorius makes your innards go all cozy and it just feels right. Go with it!

Sit with your chosen book in a quiet space and close your eyes. Clear your mind and try to not focus overly much on the emotions attached to the question you need help in answering. What you are aiming for is a state of “calm expectation.” When you feel comfortable, relaxed, and emotionally and spiritually in a good place, ask your question– out loud if you don’t feel too weird about it, or quietly in your mind, if you prefer. Take a few seconds to allow your question to be heard and absorbed. Then pick up the book.

Close your eyes and let your fingers meander through the book’s pages, lingering over the paper wherever you may feel compelled. At some point while doing so, you will intuitively feel the “right” place to stop (or your finger will get tired, that’s a good place to stop, too.) Place your finger on the spot you are drawn to.

Read from where you finger is resting, be it for a few words, a sentence, a paragraph, or an entire passage if you’re into it. At first glance, the words may have no bearing on your question. “What the fuck is this nonsense?” you may wonder, “I asked if my girlfriend is cheating on me and this asshole is talking about cherry blossoms. Thanks a lot, Basho!” Give it some time. Look at the words you are reading: what do they have to tell you about your situation? Do they offer any guidance or inspiration? Do you connect emotionally with what you have just read–did it leave you gleeful, frightened, peevish? Repeat the passage aloud or write it down by hand–your higher mind has deliberately selected these words to help you in some way and eventually you will understand their importance and meaning.

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Some mystics suggest for this exercise that if you’re left even more confused than when you started and you require more clarity, try it again from the start. Pick a book that seems to fit your question, and then merge your chosen answer with the last passage. It is said that sooner or later you will be able to see what the words are trying to get through to you. Or you’ll go crazy. Because I’ll be honest, at this point I am thinking of a freaky Jorge Luis Borges’ Library of Babel scenario involving infinite permutations of all these passages mashed together and it’s sort of creeping me out.

There you have it, bookworms! Since you’re clearly not ever going to read anything from those dangerously teetering, towering book stacks, why not harness the power and the magic of those beautiful, potent words contained within to get some questions answered and get your shit together?

Okay, okay, I poke fun, but I get it. I am one of you, truly! I just checked out eight books from the library but I’m still plowing through a pile of books I bought two years ago. And yet, somehow I just purchased four more books for Summer Reading 2019? How does this even happen? It’s a sickness.

So let’s do this for a start. Read through the above thoroughly, and as your first foray into the arcane art of bibliomancy, I want you to think long and hard on this question. Meditate, roll it around in your mind, choose your title from your shelf and ask aloud of the angels, aliens, your intuitive brain-meats, and who/whatever else…

“What book shall I read next?”

Photo credit: Maika Keuben / @liquidnight

(This article was originally posted at Dirge; the site is no longer active.)

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