Book Stacks

One of the benefits of being a student researcher (surprisingly) is that you gain a lot of upper body strength from lugging armfuls of books to and from campus on a weekly basis. I officially started my senior thesis project last March, but have also had other concurrent research since January 2009. This translated into a lot of trips to Young Library and a lot of gasping and wheezing as I carried books back up the Hill where I lived. Over the past year, I’ve accrued almost an entire shelf’s worth of research material (apologies to anyone trying to check out a book on “Queen Elizabeth I,” “Henry VIII,” or “The Revenger’s Tragedy” among other related topics – I’m pretty sure I kidnapped that entire section). And this is true of most of the other Departmental Scholars that I’ve spoken to. If we put all of our texts together, we could probably build a mighty fortress of nerdiness awesomeness.

Unfortunately, however, now that I’ve finally finished and turned in my thesis, it’s time to bid those books (and my dreams of building a book fort) farewell.

Thesis research with bookcase for comparison (roughly a dozen are missing because I've already started returning them).

And since I’m already doing a post on my propensity for hoarding books…

Texts from research on collaboration (picture taken last March).

I wish I could say that I’ll miss the giant stacks of books surrounding my desk, but I’m pretty excited for a non-research-intensive Spring quarter. (Although I did ask my American Fiction professor last week if I could do a research paper instead of a regular essay… O.o)


Bookaholics Anonymous

I have a confession to make. I am inexplicably obsessed with the musty smell of old papers bound up in leather covers. I love holding a book in my hand, flipping through its creamy pages, and feeling history beneath my fingertips. However environmentally unfriendly it is, the physicality of owning a book is an experience that cannot be replaced by e-books or the Kindle.

But then again, I am a bookaholic. My desk in my dorm room is covered with tall stacks of books and my book shelf is completely filled with anthologies, reference texts, poetry, plays, and fiction (and a DVD collection). I also have two bookcases at home that contain the rest of my growing book collection. And yet I keep buying more and more books like an addiction. 


This weekend, I went to the LA Times Festival of Books and bought The World According to Garp (John Irving), The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (Mark Haddon), About a Boy (Nick Hornby), and I’m a Stranger Here Myself (Bill Bryson). 

I also bought a very nice copy of Mark Twain’s A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court from a booth that sold rare and fine books. It’s really nicely bound with gold lettering and beautiful script on each page. I was also looking at a leatherbound copy of Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness, but it was unfortunately out of my price range. 

(Perhaps even more exciting though was the fact that I got to see Kristin Chenoweth from Wicked in person!)


Inspired by Disney’s Beauty and the Beast, as a child I dreamed of having an enormous grand library with the books piled up to the ceiling. I will probably never own a house big enough to house such an ambitious library, but I still dream of having bookshelves line every wall of my future home (which I imagine to be cottage-like and cosy with the rooms painted gold like in Bridge to Terabithia). To this dream, I have added the desire to own tasteful artwork and fine wine. 


My research (and thesis) advisor is a fellow bookaholic. He has five or six book shelves in his (tiny) office filled with books about Shakespeare, Renaissance culture, and other topics related to his research. One meeting while we were talking about purchasing books out of print, he told me that whenever he goes to England, he would peruse the bookshops there and sometimes he would find really rare books for only £20 or so. He is currently registered at the British Museum as the owner of the earliest edition of this one 16th century book and owns some very nice editions of rarely printed plays such as John Fletcher’s The Woman’s Prize. My professor has so many books that he can’t put them all in bookshelves at his house (his American literature collection lies in sad little stacks in his garage – sorry AmLit majors :D). Shelves and shelves of books, rare book collections, books categorized by genre and author (I’m an organization freak). This could be me in thirty years!

In addition to my new Mark Twain acquisition, my fledgling special books collection includes autographed copies of Ray Bradbury’s Dandelion Wine, Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, and most recently Oliver Sacks’s Musicophilia. Next week, I plan to get another book autographed by David Sedaris. 

I have caught the book bug (worm?) and I’m loving it. 

It's nice to see that reading isn't dead at all.

It's nice to see that reading isn't dead at all.

Also, happy belated 445th birthday (April 23) to Mr. William Shakespeare! Even though that might not be your real birthday… But I’m sure you don’t mind that we think of you as the literary St. George. 🙂

It’s the Hard Knock Life for Us!

This is why  I am up at 5 am, poring over Alfred Harbage’s Annals of English Drama, 975-1700: An Analytical Record of All Plays, Extant or Lost, Chronologically Arranged and Indexed by Authors, Titles, Dramatic Companies, &c. (among the 21 other texts stacked on my desk). 

I love research, I really do. I love wandering into deserted sections of the library and cracking open dusty books that probably haven’t been checked out for decades (or at least years). Sometimes I even like just reading off different titles and visualizing how much knowledge and insight exists in just that one library.  I find it really exciting that I get to learn so much stuff that we never even touch in class.

But no matter how you spin it, deadlines suck. Especially deadlines imposed by arbitrary school schedules. *Brain explodes.*