Why I Love Books: August Roundup

August gets a bad rap as the month of withering lawns, miserable heat, and end-of-summer ennui. An article published in Slate actually argued that it should be abolished from the year altogether. Before you start tearing pages out of your calendar, let me remind you that August marks the advent of Fair season, which means it’s the first of only a small handful of months when it’s socially acceptable to eat spaghetti and meatballs on a stick. August also happens to be the only month in the English language that is also an adjective, National Goat Cheese Month, and (most importantly) the month of my birthday. It’s also the kick-off of hurricane season, and here in Chapel Hill we’ve been getting some pretty woolly weather. First there was the earthquake that rumbled up the East Coast on the 23rd. Then we had some hefty winds from the outskirts of Hurricane Irene on Saturday. Fortunately, I was set for any emergency. I have a survival kit under my bed that includes five good books, emergency rations of cookie dough, and dental floss. My motto: always be prepared.
— Jordan Castelloe, Blog Intern


1. Survive the storms.  In case of a weather emergency, make sure your bookshelves are well-stocked. The New Yorker supplies a helpful list of five books to cozy up with during a hurricane.

2. Un-educate yourself.  I’ve always heard that you learn the most important lessons in life outside of school. I therefore feel completely justified in mail-ordering every single item on this list of the thirty least educational books ever published.

3. To arms, readers, to arms! According to this alarming article, 70% of adults in the United States haven’t been in a bookstore in the past five years. I find this hard to believe. If it’s true, then we the 30% a weighty task before us. Rather than despair, I suggest you all go to your favorite local bookstore and buy as many books as you can carry. The mother country thanks you. 

4. Reading makes you better. Better at what? At everything. I don’t understand this picture, but I like it.

5. My kind of tattoo. Earlier this month, I flirted with the idea of getting a tattoo. I was tempted to get a picture of Benjamin Franklin tattooed on my right thigh, but I decided that his face didn’t lend itself to tattooing and besides, I’m not really into pain. Instead, I tried to dye my hair red and ended up staining the bathtub permanently orange. If I’d realized that this was an option, you can bet your last tomato that I’d have it all over my back.

6. I wish I’d thought of this. Sometimes I get the urge to alphabetize my bookshelves. Other times I prefer a more thematic approach and organize them by subject matter or genre. Nina Katchadourian sorts them so that the titles on the spine make up hilarious, painfully apt mini-stories. It’s one of the greatest things I’ve ever seen.

7. More books as art. Slightly older, but utterly enchanting: take a gander at these high-quality images of medieval calligraphy.

8. Next time you’re in Paris, check into their swanky book-themed hotel. Each of the twenty-six rooms pays homage to a different writer.

9. If that’s a few hundred euros north of your budget, stop by the Paris’s legendary English bookstore, Shakespeare and Company. There’s a bed upstairs where all manner of famous writers (or, at the time, aspiring writers) have laid their head free of charge. I’m not sure what you have to do to convince the owners that you’re worthy of sleeping there. I’m guessing it involves Homeric recitation, on-the-spot Haiku composition, and cartwheels. One guidebook recommends bringing your own pair of sheets. Apparently they haven’t been changed since Hemingway slept there.

10. And finally, what you’ve all been waiting for. (Even if you didn’t know it.) Your favorite authors have now been reinvented as Lego characters. If they sold these in stores, I’d clear out the shelves. Also, when did Louisa May Alcott start looking so much like Princess Leia?

Okay, September. I have enough cookie dough in my fridge to last through a hurricane apocalypse. Do your worst.


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2 comments on “Why I Love Books: August Roundup

  1. Where is the Margaret Atwood Lego! And seriously, Lousia May Alcott looks minus a light saber.

    The 70% who don’t walk into physical bookstores – certainly some of them must be visiting virtual bookstores? I wonder how many of them know what they are missing, and how many are just uneducated to the wonders of standing admist shelves filled with adventure, escape, beauty, and drama?

    Are those 30% of us still in the isles becoming like music aficionados who only listen to vinyl? I wonder….

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