Books and Goats

(Please read the title of this blog post in the same cadence of  refrain of the Stepbrothers classic "Boats and Hos")

This week, I'm "guest curating" the @bibliofeed Instagram page. It's a cool concept - different contributors take over the feed for a week, sharing the most favorite things they've read and why that's so. My Goodreads "to-read" list has gotten uncomfortably long since I started following the feed (seriously, it's giving me anxiety) because everyone's choices are so compelling. There have been a lot of classics mentioned that I haven't gotten around to reading yet plus some more obscure titles I probably would have never come across on my own.  And anyway, I love looking at photos of books.

My list of favorite books is decidedly all over the place with old Russian dudes bumping up against Nora Ephron (I made that sound kinda gross on purpose, sah-ray) and mayyybbeee a couple of picks that some more seasoned bibliophiles would scoff at. Like, I can be a real philistine sometimes. I don't know! I was talking to Danielle and Laura about this at dinner the other night and saying I was a little worried at the reaction I'd get from the regular commenters since I'm pretty sure they'd already made fun of one of my choices in another discussion earlier in the month. But isn't it true that most of us have eclectic taste and are drawn to certain genres or series or bands or whatever that maybe lack critical merit? And does that make them any less valid? I'd think no, sir, it does not. 

 I try to remind myself (as we should all do every now and again) on the regular to not take myself too seriously and to hope that other people don't take me or themselves too seriously either. So much seriousness! (remember when Ben was dressed up like the Dark Knight Batman and Tom said "Hey Ben, just one more thing. WHY SO SIRIUS???) It's such a balance, this serious-taking. Literature is important and valid and worthy of real, open thoughtful discussion. At the same time, it is just books and they are all just opinions and so let's just keep some perspective.

I mean. Would you just look at it?

I mean. Would you just look at it?

There was this one time in one of Dreiss' modern art surveys when Robert Rauschenberg's Monogram came up on the wall (do Art History students still look at projector slides on a wall?) and we started discussing the meaning of the war paint, and the tire, and the symbolism of the goat in early Christian art (the damned, btw). I get it - I got it - I love modern art with my whole heart and am often made so frustrated by the "my 5 year old could paint that" argument that people think is so clever. But man, after a few minutes, I had one of those out of body experiences when I started really thinking about what I was doing with my time, on that Wednesday afternoon, and started to giggle. Just, like, I'm sitting here in the dark staring at a projection of an Angora goat with a tire around its tummy - I mean really drinking it in, examining it up and down -  and I'm being SO SERIOUS. I'm paying money for this! I'm going to get a DEGREE in part because I did this! 

My friend Alex was sitting next to me and thankfully shares my sense of humor and soon my stifled funeral laughter got all contagious and he started laughing and then we were both doubled over our desks, tears streaming down our faces, that silent laughter that gets worse the more you try to calm down. You know the kind. It felt so good to laugh at how ridiculous that particular moment was. But then I stopped laughing and took some damn notes because you know that shit is going to be on the midterm. 

As a writer, you're constantly putting yourself out there for others to consume - on purpose! I know this is my own fault! - and there's this weird dichotomy between feeling compelled to share your stories and just being a human and not wanting people to judge you for your stories. What the hell.

Anyway, I decided to go ahead with my real, unedited list of favorite books on bibliofeed this week, haters gonna hate and all the rest.