Between the Covers: Unlikely Matches on the Bookshelves

I have a deadline this week and, as such, I haven’t had much time to devote to blogging. Nevertheless I didn’t want my blog entries to get stale, so I thought I would include a more humorous post for a change.

Anyone who has spent more than five years on a university campus knows the pain of having to pack, ship, transport, unpack, and rearrange one’s books. We moved back to Boston a couple months ago and had to send everything across the country via Amtrak, as it was the cheapest method for sending heavy things.

Grad student libraries are very heavy things.

When packing it becomes clear very quickly that your meticulous, well-thought out book groupings go to hell when the books themselves go into boxes. Gone is your alphabetized collection. Demolished is the quarantine separating your theory from your sci-fi. In go the cookbooks with the graphic novels. Somewhere in between, your Dover thrift editions and your secondhand paperbacks serve as improvised padding.

For the first time in many years, I lacked the energy to put all my books back into their familiar and functional sequences. This post is an homage to some of the more interesting marriages between titles, authors, and genres which have taken place on my shelves since.

Some of them delight in the palate of possibilities:

Isaac Asimov’s Saké Handbook
Korean Cooking and the Practice of Everyday Life
Julia Child’s Scandal of the Speaking Body
The Pyromancer’s Cookbook by Henry James

Other beg “If only…”
Sergei Eisenstein’s The Virgin Suicides (filmed and edited accordingly)
The Complete Poems of Stanley Cavell
Writing for Academic Journals by John Donne

Others seem strangely appropriate

Confessions of Haruki Murakami
The Bartender’s Black Book by Christopher Marlowe
Homer’s Mythologies

Still others seem like something you’ve already read:

Jurassic Park: Simulacra and Simulation
Disease Representation, and Dracula
The Dancing Plague and Radical Alterity

(Or something I wish I had written:)

Digital Literacy and the Black Plague

Yet for each of these marriages, however implausible in reality…

Tourbook of the Long Earth
Yasunari Kawabata’s Tom Jones
Calvin and Hobbes: the Narrative Reader
Zen and the Art of French Grammar

There will almost always be a happy ending:

Zadie Smith’s Complete Guide to Massage