Archive of ‘bookish’ category

Book Stuff

Book stuff

So…some recent book stuff!

…not to be confused with “butt stuff”. Which…don’t ask me how one could be mistaken for the other, but as someone who frequently mishears and misreads things, I know it happens!

Book stuff the first is our Stacked reading compilation over at Haute Macabre, covering the months of April and May. Among others, I really enjoyed In The House In The Dark Of The Woods by Laird Hunt, a witchy woodland fever dream of a tale, set in colonial New England, is utterly immersive and twisty and strange. Not mentioned, because I didn’t even know how to begin to tackle the material, is The Collected Schizophrenias: Essays by Esmé Weijun Wang. I feel funny saying that I “enjoyed” this book, a woman’s exhausting struggle with chronic and mental illness, but it was intimate and candid,  beautifully written and immediately compelling, and provided perspectives and insights that were surprising, terrifying, and sometimes even quite empowering.

Book stuff the second: I interviewed Mallory O’Meara, best-selling author of The Lady from the Black Lagoon: Hollywood Monsters and the Lost Legacy of Milicent PatrickMilicent Patrick was an illustrator and artist “who designed the iconic monster from The Creature from the Black Lagoon, but, unfortunately for decades, no one knew much else about her.” Mallory’s book is the incredible true story of Milicent Patrick’s life and legacy, and an exploration of why her accomplishments still matter today and why her story needs to be told now more than ever. Bonus: if you’ve never seen Creature From The Black Lagoon, you can watch it over on archive.org!

“By My Broom,” Said She

54513115_2227028547536991_8659150429322370307_n

By my broom,” said she, “I give you no spell against magic.”

It’s taken me three years, but I have finally finished reading Lord Dunsany’s The King Of Elfland’s Daughter. It was a bit of a slog, but I’ll confess: this enchanting passage kicks off the point at which the story begins to redeem itself for me (20 pages from the end, oh well.)  The ageless, enigmatic Ziroonderel is the star of the show as far as I’m concerned. “As though magic were not the spice and essence of life, its ornament and its splendor.” Quite right! Send that parliament of old fools packing, you wise, wonderful old thing!

This title marks the first of my five goal books read in 2019, though it is book 25 of the total read so far this year. Next up: The Dark Eidolon and Other Fantasies by Clark Ashton Smith, which I began in late summer of 2017 and was actually enjoying very much, but I became distracted by other books, set it aside, and it was soon buried and forgotten.

52841327_579147929274922_6360848651708634123_n

Coming Home

RP

For the winter holidays this past year I suggested to my baby sister that if she wanted to get me something in addition to the planner that you’ve all heard so much about recently, why not one of her very favorite books? The sort of comfort read that she might return to year after year, savor time and time again. She presented me with Rosamunde Pilcher’s Coming Home.

“Against the backdrop of an elegant Cornwall mansion before World War II and a vast continent-spanning canvas during the turbulent war years, this involving story tells of an extraordinary young woman’s coming of age, coming to grips with love and sadness, and in every sense of the term, coming home…”
I hadn’t yet started the book, but I learned that Rosamunde Pilcher passed away yesterday, so I thought I’d begin reading it this very afternoon in honor of both the author and the story that so captivated my sister. And in honor of the one who so thoughtfully gave me a tiny piece of her history to cherish, I thought I would dine on what I imagine one of her favorite snacks used to be at the time she discovered her love for this specific book: a generous helping of bright orange Cheezits. To sip, a serving of delicious diet chemicals, which I do not believe she ever developed a taste for.

And you? If you were to gift a loved one with your most beloved, returned-to-time-and-time-again story, what would it be? Do you recall where you were in your life’s path when that book became so vital to you? And of course, it’s always helpful to pair a special snack with your comfort reading–what would you recommend your loved one to pair with your book?

Planner Talk 2019: The Planninator

Planner 2019

Early last week I was in the heady throes of the honeymoon stage with my new planner…I was riding the high of having written down a thing AND done it, AND I went on to do the next thing, as well. And the next!

It was, as I said, I very heady feeling, and dare I say…empowering. I found myself taking care of something I had put off for six months (it involved a phone call…and not just an easy, 5 minute phone call, but the kind where they’d probably put you on hold and transfer you to six different departments, to which you would have to explain your problem six times over, and then they’d try to talk you out of whatever you want, or they’d have to get a manager…and then more hold time…you get the idea. I did not want to make this phone call.)

Last week I:

-called the bank to initiate a thing
-ordered new eyeglasses
-scheduled an eye doctor appointment
-scheduled a dentist appointment (it has literally been 20+ years)
-scheduled an appointment with the dermatologist
-scheduled a appointment with a new therapist (gonna give it another try!)
-canceled three services (I had to make phone calls for all three!)
-wrote a handful of things
-went to see my nail tech and got my claws removed
-participated in a monthly call for creative women
-went to Post Office (twice)
-went to library (twice)
-cleaned out closet and all clothing drawers, all without having watched or read Marie Kondo

If I am being honest, all this is probably more than I get around to doing in a year! I am basically the PLANNINATOR, crushing all goals!

Planner 1

So, you may be wondering, what brought about this flurry of productivity, is it sustainable and can we really chalk it up to the the acquisition of a new planner?

To backtrack just a little, this new planner was a gift from my youngest sister (see previous planner post from her, to give you an idea as to her dedication to planners and planning.) I had her asked if she thought that she was up to the task of picking out a planner for me and perhaps some fun accessories, as a holiday gift. As I expected, she was super excited about the possibilities! I think nothing would make her happier than to have all her sisters in the same room together, gleefully ignoring each other as they plot and plan and scheme their days away in their respective planners.

With a few guidelines from me,  that this new planner be:
1. undated, but with time slots, and
2. it’s gotta be black!, and
3. hard bound (as opposed to ringed)

…she said that  with all of my restrictions, I didn’t leave her a lot to work with and she ended up going with a Passion Planner. Here’s what they have to say about themselves:

“Passion Planner is the one place for all your thoughts. It’s more than just a planner—it’s a tool that helps you break down your short and long-term goals and incorporate them into your daily life. It has been designed to encourage you to plan for the future, reflect on the past, but most importantly, act on the present. Think of it as a paper life coach — ready 24/7 to challenge you to focus on what is most important, accept your thoughts and ideas without judgment, and prompt you to reflect on your everyday life. We hope that it becomes a place where you can declutter your mind, allowing you to focus on the present moment.”

planner 2 planner 3

I also asked her to feel free to include lots of fun accessories…even though I don’t really know how they work or what I am supposed to do with them and I’m actually convinced I don’t even know what “fun” is, or how it works. But it seemed important to include stickers! And washi tape! I mean but also what are you supposed to do with washi tape? I don’t know!

planner 5 planner 6

And I know I’m hard to shop for, I want “sort of, you know, “goth”, but not like, Victorian goth, or cutesy goth, or Halloween-y goth, or like 1992-era Spencer’s Gifts, goth.”
I guess what I am saying that I don’t want anything too cheesy or too “on the nose.”  So… that pretty much rules out everything on Etsy, because Etsy tends to be all of those things. So instead she went with something far easier to pin down–cats and Sailor Moon!

planner 8

…and a darling pouch for all of my accoutrements!

If you’re curious as to where she picked up the stickers, the tape, and the pouch, these are the three shops that she shared with me:

planner 9

The Passion Planner is much larger than the one I was previously using, seen here for comparison. But honestly, I like both sizes! I’m really digging the larger version right now, but that could be due to me being the kind of person who adapts pretty easily and I generally reach the conclusion that what I am doing now is better than what I was doing before. I like that I can really sprawl and ramble with my thoughts and ideas, but I do see how this larger one might be a little bit more challenging to travel with, but my planner stays at my desk all the time, so that’s not really a concern.

If you’re interested, I was previously using the undated planner from Ink + Volt, and I thought it was pretty great. I didn’t use it consistently, and it wasn’t exactly for planning and scheduling purposes (more like for ideas and brainstorming and lists) and because it’s undated, I think I have probably been using it for two years now. Highly recommended!

Planner 10

ALSO: because my sister is a marvel and she knows me pretty well, she DID find me some “goth but not really” stickers, and they are perfect. As an aside, I gotta find another word to sum up my “goth but not really” aesthetic. But the best I’ve been able to come up with, that doesn’t sound too long-winded, self-important, or cheesy, is “cats and darkness”. I don’t know that it’s an important distinction, I mean I know what I mean and I know it when I see it. And the more I belabor the point, the more it sounds like I’m putting down the stuff that doesn’t fall into my narrow criteria–which I don’t mean to do! If you like it, it’s very good! As the sample lady once told our other sister, when she was sampling some sheet cake or bagel bites or whatever at Costco on a Saturday afternoon. “If you like it, it’s very good!”

SO THEN. Week One of using my planner was a spectacular success! I wrote a lot of stuff down, and I crossed a lot of stuff off my list. Or I put a checkmark next to it. (Are you a crosser or a checker? What’s the difference, anyway?) This week I’m…well, let’s say I’m a tad less enthusiastic.I actually might have overdone it last week, and maybe made myself a little manic about it (I mean, I seriously did feel a little crazed) and I’m still recovering, heh heh. I mean to the point that, even after writing almost 1200 words about the thing and having taken a whole mess of photos of it today, I don’t think I have actually written a single thing in it..

Well, tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow! Which, I don’t think Macbeth was talking about his planner when he said :

“.To-morrow, and to-morrow, and to-morrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;”

…but then again if Macbeth had all these stickers and washi tapes at his disposal, he might have been a PLANNINATOR too. Also if you look up #pashfam on instagram, you won’t see a lot of Shakespeare but you might find some layout ideas and different tips and tricks and suggestions for how other users put their Passion Planner to work. I am passing that tidbit on not having looked at it myself, because I’m stubborn and I am pretty sure I don’t need to see how other people do things, but wow, that sounds really bad when I see it in black and white like that. Maybe I’ll just take a peek.

Odds & Ends

40467562_451236442035011_5998492815649701109_n

On the Haute Macabre blog today, Needful Things is back (it’s a regular-ish feature now, wheee!) and the staff writers dish on the stuff & things–both fancy and fundamental– that we’ve been enamored with this past summer. Have a peek! You may find your own next needful thing here.

Needful things pictured here from Flannery Grace Good and Ghoulish Delights Bath Shop.

Crossroads by Yanni Flores

“crossroads” by Yanni Floros

Also this week we dust off our Aural Fixation feature to discuss some of our favorite podcasts. Admittedly, this is a bit of a ploy to get you guys to chime in with some of your own, so that we can expand our libraries 😉

Shout out to my two forever favorites, Bad Books for Bad People and The Witch Wave!

Madonna

Books Autumn 2018

And lastly, you can take a gander at August’s gathering of late summer reads! See what books the Haute Macabre writers loved, the books we loathed, and the books we’d swan about in a posh library looking gorgeous with, like Madonna here.

Three featured books from my late summer stack: House of Women, North American Lake Monsters, and Philosophy Pussycats & Porn.

Bargain Bin Gothic Romance

Fountain

Lou Marchetti

Flashing My Shabby Knickers At This Apathetic Stone Fountain And Other Mundane Tales Of Desperation And Revenge

 

Esteban Maroto

Esteban Maroto

Just A Quick Detour Through This Graveyard In My Filmy Négligée And Other Tales Of Efficiency, Intrigue, and Intimatewear

 

Lou Marchetti

Lou Marchetti

Indulging My Perverse Paramour’s Fucking Tweety Bird Fetish Bullshit And Other Twisted Tales Of Terror And Tomfoolery

 

George Ziel

George Ziel

Surely This Rusted, Unlocked, Antique Gate Will Foretall That Hideous Fiend And Other Naive Tales Of The Rich, Beautiful, And Privileged

 

Harry Barton

Harry Barton

What The Fuck Are You Looking At, Tree? And Other Salty Tales Of Irksome Annoyance

 

Robert McGinnis

Robert McGinnis

A Poot In The Night; Or, How I Escaped The Clutches Of My Roguish Captor With Naught But A Gut Full Of Tacos And Refried Beans

 

Harry Barton

Harry Barton

I Think I Left The Asparagus Risotto Simmering Gently On The Stove, and Other Spine-Tingling Tales of Culinary Consternation 

 

George Ziel2

Just Casually Harvesting Some Grain While The Murderer Gains On My Head Start, And Other Thrilling Tales Of Terror

 

Lou Marchetti

Lou Marchetti

Funeral Plot Options And Why It’s Never Too Soon For End-Of-Life Planning, A Tale Of One Woman’s Practicality And Preparedness In The Face Of Immeasurable Horrors And Murder Most Foul

💀 Looking for more absurdity?
Try Kiss Me As The Undead Armies Approach And My Talking Skull Weeps Diamond Tears

💀 Looking for more gothic romance?
Try Embracing the nightside; An interview with My Love Haunted Heart
Or How To Wear A Gothic Romance Novel

Stacked: May 2018

books

At Haute Macabre this week, all the books we’ve been gorging ourselves on lately! I foresee your summer reading list getting a little out of hand. Here’s a quick link list of each of the books mentioned–plus two that didn’t make the list, but were worth a mention…

Additionally, I read the oft-recommended The Troop, by Nick Cutter. I finished it just before starting The Hunger, and it was an interesting juxtaposition, these two books about insatiable appetites and voracious hungers. The Troop largely takes place on an isolated island where a boy scout troop has taken their annual trip, during which they are stalked by, and exposed to a terrifying biologically-engineered nightmare. Described as “part Lord of the Flies, part 28 Days Later”, this was probably one of the grossest books I have ever read. But it was a lot of fun, too!

Just a few nights ago I finished The Family Plot by Cherie Priest; previously I’d only read Boneshaker and Maplecroft–the former a steampunk type affair and the latter a Lizzie Borden/eldritch horror sort of mash-up, and while both were wildly enjoyably, I felt I hadn’t yet read any proper “spooky” horror from her. The Family Plot a, haunted house tale with southern gothic trappings, volatile family dynamics, and lots of oddly precise details about how to salvage parts and hardware from a beautifully decrepit old home, fits the bit perfectly.

Bonus! I know my book lists consist, predictably, mostly horror and ghosts and spooky stuff. If historical fiction is more your cuppa, might I point you to my darling sister’s picks for the month of May, in her ongoing, monthly, “Brilliance of Books” selection?

Ex Libris Group Show At Recspec Gallery

tenebrouskate_1050x.progressive.png

Tenebrous Kate, Judith 1933

I know I am a little late to the party on this one (how did I not know about this?) but Austin folks, you are in for a treat! Our friends at Recspec Gallery have curated a group show featuring new interpretations of the long-standing tradition of the bookplate. EX LIBRIS is a collection highlighting the work of 22 artists, and will be on display through June 9th, 2018.

Annie Alonzi, Read Books, Get High

Annie Alonzi, Read Books, Get High

Kimberly Kwan, Texas Wildflowers

Kimberly Kwan, Texas Wildflowers

Abi Daniel, Pythonissam

Abi Daniel, Pythonissam

Two Books

“Do one thing every day that scares you” is a wonderful sentiment that is widely attributed to Eleanor Roosevelt, but I’m not sure she actually said that exact thing (although she did say words about doing things in spite of fearing those things.) At any rate, I’m not very good at doing the things that scare me—not on a daily basis or any other time, really—but yesterday I did do such a thing. At six o’clock in the evening I met with a few other readers at a coffee shop and we talked about books. I guess you could say it was a book club, but I couldn’t think of it that way, or else I might not have gone. But books and steamy, delicious coffee, and maybe sharing my enthusiasm about both things? This I thought I could do. And I did. And I am going back next month! “We improve ourselves by victories over ourselves. There must be contests, and we must win.” This is a thing that someone else said.

I Am, I Am, I Am was a memoir, specific slices of life told through the author’s numerous brushes with death, and it was a beautiful, breathtaking piece of writing. Coincidentally, I was already reading The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks, which is what they read last month, so I had the opportunity to discuss that as well. It is probably not fair to make this comparison, because I am not sure that it is meant to be an enjoyable read– but when I compare the writing styles, the Henrietta Lacks book just feels flat, functional, a vehicle for a vast amount of research; it just didn’t have the extraordinary gut-punch of the language that I Am, I Am, I Am did–which is unfortunately, because Henrietta Lacks was a remarkable story and deserved the same kind of treatment.

All these knitted squares upon which these books are cozied up in? Well, I’m working on my baby sister’s divorce blanket again, knitting up scraps of sock yarn (and sock knitters know—there are *always* scraps) into a chaotic, multicolored monster of an afghan. I just checked my notes and it would seem that I started it over three years ago, in January of 2015. Yikes. Hopefully I will finish before her next divorce! Haha, just kidding. She’d have to remarry first for that! Not gonna happen on my watch. For those interested, the pattern is Shelley Kangs’ sock yarn blanket, and I don’t know if the instructions are still on her blog, or if her blog exists, but ravelry links to a web archive page, so you should be able to find it.

Bonus books! Our Stacked selections are up over at Haute Macabre, so be sure to take a peek and see this other things I have read this past month, as well, as my fellow staff bookworms’ picks!

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.

1 2 3 6