And We Have a Winner…s!

As I lamented, for the second year in a row, I missed my opportunity to be a book giver during World Book Night. In each of these years, the book list has featured titles that I consider fundamental-to-life reads. In 2012, it was Octavia Butler’s Kindred and this year, Population: 485 – Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time by Michael Perry, a Wisconsin farm boy turned judicious small town scribe.

Though my inability to keep an accurate watch on such meaningful details ripped out the left corner of my soul, I wasn’t going to let opportunity run away with it. I purchased a copy of Population: 485, and encouraged readers to choose someone in their community who would benefit from a free book. Essentially it was World Book Night within World Book Night. Me giving a title to someone with the intent of in turn passing it along.

I received an underwhelming, in quantity only, three comments. Each had an individual, thoughtful reason for wanting to share the book (after first reading it, but who can blame them)? And it would be daft of me to fail to note that I actually personally know each of the people who commented.

So, I’ve decided to buy two more copies and give one to each.

I was immediately chided by my father for playing into our societies “everyone’s a winner!” habit, in which I slightly agree has created a generation of entitled’s who expect a ticker tape parade for the completion of every menial task. But I recognize that each of the recipients will benefit from the read in uniquely specific ways, plus the book givers get to give out 20 books, so it’s really not fair that I was only giving out one.

So congratulations, let your World Book Night duties commence. Read, dog ear, and then gracefully part with these, now, never-ending tales.


How I Managed to Fail in 5 Days (Sorry, Michael Perry)

The book that made me a Wisconsinite.

The book that made me a Wisconsinite. I’ll be giving away one copy – check the end of the post for details!

Last year in the days after April 23rd, I started hearing about free copies of Kindred being passed from stranger to stranger. I was jealous at not having gotten one. Then, when driven by bitterness curiosity as to why I hadn’t been included, I read about World Book Night and was jealous that I hadn’t been able to be a book giver. Certainly the trauma would forever scar me and come World Book Night 2013, I wouldn’t be left behind.

World Book Morning. Yawn. Coffee. Twitter.



I apprehensively found the 2013 book list. And there, judging me with a scornful look of disappointment, was Population: 485 – Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time.

The single book I took on my first international trip.

The book that made me realize how much I love home, but why I have to travel.

Ironically, upon my return from Africa, it made me leave Wisconsin and move back to my hometown in Washington state. But while, I’ve read many people’s thoughts that Population could describe Anytown, USA, it didn’t describe that not-so-small-not-at-all-quaint town on the left coast, so I came back. Back to a very literal translation of New Auburn. A small Wisconsin town. A half block from the volunteer-manned fire station. Perry is my Kerouac.

I’d love to say that’s the first time this week I’ve failed Michael Perry.

On Saturday, day four of the Fox Cities Book Festival, Perry and the Long Beds performed a benefit concert. There was a little of this. And, undoubtedly, a lot of this.

And I saw none of it. Not that my Saturday wasn’t well spent and there is always that question on whether or not the old Subie would make a long haul like the Fox Cities, but damn it, it would have been nice to be there.

So, in a span of 5 days, I failed. Failed to take the opportunity to see a favorite writer, but more importantly, missed an opportunity to introduce him to neighbors.

Here’s the best part about me and grief. It makes me want to shop. So I bought one copy (I work in education, even that was a stretch for the budget) of Population: 485 – Meeting Your Neighbors One Siren at a Time and am going to give it away.

Since this is my 2nd Annual Pity Party over forgetting World Book Night, I’d like to continue their mission in a small way.

Tell me to who you’d give the book. A light or non-reader you think would benefit the most from the gift.

I’ll take submissions in the comments until May 1st and then make a decision and notify the winner via e-mail by May 4.

Literary Review Tattoos: “…a compelling tour de force…”

I have a friend who stores her books in teetering stacks on the floor. They’re usually ripped, dog-eared, and deeply scarred. The way she likes them. When we lived in the same time zone, I would relish the time I spent digging through the pile. Pulling the most worn titles as they seemed like the most coveted.

It was in these stacks that I discovered Octavia Butler’s Kindred. And that I passed over Hitchhiker’s more than once before asking her to page through the book replacing any reference to individual spacecraft with the word ‘car’ or, if larger means of spacial transportation was being used: ‘bus’ She refused and I read it anyway. I loved it.

Her impending birthday left me with the excruciating task of finding more books for her to play literary Jenga. After a recommendation from a tan-jacketed actor, I feel like I’ve discovered the perfect books.

And now the fun begins.

Not simply satisfied with birthday wrap and a bow, I feel that the act of gift giving should go beyond the physical interaction of passing the present and tearing the paper, so I sent her this picture of a review from the back of one of the books.


It was only after I sent it, partially hidden to remove incriminating statements as to the identity, that I realized how much the portioned description encompassed our friendship.

Consider the idea of reviews on book jackets. The negative are relegated to star-rated columns, but the best of what is being said is boldly printed for immediate judgment.

I propose that we start doing the same for people. The nicest thing that anyone has ever said about them is tattooed down the nape of their neck, possible the breadth of their shoulders if the review is pretentiously wordy. This way we enter our interactions the way we begin reading a book. We’ve scanned the visible for an immediate impression and now garnered the best parts from one persons’ subjective critique.

The best part about this new movement, beyond the sociological connotations  is that it’s easily marketable. Literary-themed tattoos. Encouraged judgment. Egocentricity. As soon as this takes off in Portland, we’ll spread to Seattle, Austin, San Francisco.

With this new proposal in mind, I started pulling books from my shelves. My discoveries were astounding. First, I own an incredible amount of books that I have yet to read, but refuse to stop purchasing more. And secondly, people have already written book reviews about people I know.

review 5 review 4 Review 2 review 3review 6

So, go to your bookshelves, find your friends in reviews, and then start to send tattoo suggestions ransom note style. The ability to convince one of applying permanence to these reviews may hinge on an inherent need to share views non-verbally, so start with friends comfortable with revealing opinions on t-shirts or the ass of their yoga pants.

Who’d you find on your shelves? Share your reviews. So we can all judge with you.