Little Free Libraries

Let me tell you a story.

Like many stories, it starts with a journey.

Okay, so it wasn’t a “journey” exactly. I was on a walk. It was a nice day. But in my defense, the area where I live has a lot of nooks and crannies to explore.

So I was walking around on this sunny day, admiring the pretty houses, when all of a sudden I noticed a small shelf sitting on the sidewalk, the kind that’s like a little cubby with glass doors on the front.  

I stopped. What was this madness?

So I looked inside and guess what I found?

BOOKS! So many books! So many FREE books!

Someone put this adorable little bookshelf in front of their house specifically to let people take books. There’s just one catch: you have to come back with a book to replace it. 

I took a travel book about Venice, Italy, a place I’m determined to visit someday. I still haven’t replaced it, oops…

I found out there’s a website for this. It’s called a little free library. People do this all over the world! What a great way to build community.

This has me thinking about starting a little library of my own. 

Have you ever run into one of these? If not, you should think about starting your own!

Book Review: The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

Ok, so I still haven’t posted my review of To Say Nothing of the Dog as voted on by Dumblebee users…I got distracted. I promise it’s coming!

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Sometimes, a death completely changes art.

Sylvia Plath’s suicide at the young age of thirty-one brought attention to her writing and made her a literary superstar.  Clearly fame comes at a high price; Plath had suffered from mental illness for much of her life and had an especially hard time preceding her death. 

Plath clearly portrays those struggles in the fictional novel The Bell Jar, the story of a young woman named Esther Greenwood who gets a summer internship at a New York City magazine. Instead of enjoying the glamorous parties and exciting opportunities, Esther feels disorientation and emptiness. She soon delves into a depression that she describes as being inside a bell jar, disconnected and confused about her place in the world, unable to see things clearly. This condition is not helped by the misunderstanding of her mother and the taboo of mental illnesses at the time (Bell Jar was published in 1963 when the subject matter was considered edgy and daring). 

Plath inserted many biographical elements into the novel, many characters being thinly veiled representations of people in her life and the magazine internship a genuine happening that disappointed Plath greatly, setting off a descent into depression. The novel was published under the pen name Victoria Lucas before her death so as to prevent the truth from coming out. 

Esther Greenwood represents what many twenty-somethings feel today: in an uncertain economy where jobs are not guaranteed, a feeling of confusion, dissonance and rejection is not uncommon. In fact, I felt a lot of connection with Esther, not necessarily in her depression but in her feelings of uncertainty and indecision. She’s trying to find her place in the world and only finding frustration along the way.

The Bell Jar has been described as the female Catcher in the Rye; both novels deconstruct societal values. Holden Caulfield sees “phony” people everywhere and never pays attention to positions of authority; Esther Greenwood refuses to be told that the “glamorous” lifestyle is what she wants, disregarding authority along the way.

Sylvia Plath’s suicide sparked fervor over The Bell Jar in the US, whereas previously it had gotten mediocre reviews. It’s a tragedy that the novel didn’t receive attention any other way, but at the same time it’s great that so many readers have been introduced to this novel. The Bell Jar talks about mental illness where, previously, few books had dared to do so. It sparked honesty in the literary world about the subject. That’s the mark of great literature.

Catcher in the Rye

Some people love it. Some people hate it. But there’s never an in between.

Which side are you on?

Personally, I love Catcher in the Rye, mostly because I’m one of those philosophical literature geeks who loves a good flawed character and questions about society.

Holden Caulfield may think everyone is a phony and quit everything he starts, but he’s a good guy at heart.

Do YOU hate Catcher in the Rye? Check out these videos. Just maybe, your mind will be changed.

All of these videos feature the wonderful John Green, author of The Fault in our Stars, who is clearly just as much of a geek about this book as me.

For some enthusiasm:

For some appreciative analysis (you can find part 2 on YouTube):

And finally, if you’re convinced, an excerpt:

A Friendly Reminder

As I reminded my lovely readers in my last post, this piece of punctuation…

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…actually exists. Ah, the majestic interrobang, an endangered species in the punctuation world. We must work to bring it back into regular culture.

And now back to your regularly scheduled programming.

The Best Products for Book Lovers, Part I

…and people who love punctuation.

Check this out:

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It’s an ampersand necklace! Cool! (via PinkChemistry on Etsy)

Modcloth has great ampersand stuff too:

It’s a Lampersand. Get it? Ha ha, Modcloth.

I want this ring set like I want chocolate.

(Similar to “saying a word too many times” syndrome, I’ve looked at so many ampersand products that it looks like a meaningless symbol now. My eyes…)

Check out this interrobang wall hanging/poster:

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The interrobang is the least appreciated form of punctuation, and yet it is undeniably the coolest. (via FolioCreations on Etsy)

Have you come across any impressive pieces of punctuation jewelry/art? And why isn’t the interrobang a mainstream form of punctuation yet?? The world needs to know.

Quick DIY Knitted Bookmarks

Here’s a word of advice: never take up knitting as a hobby.

It starts out great. You knit some easy scarves and feel accomplished. You’re a Knitting Enthusiast.

But then you get obsessed. You can’t stop knitting. You risk developing carpel tunnel because you love the feel of yarn in your hands and the accomplishment of finishing a cute lace-knit beret.

That’s when you become an Obsessive Knitter like me.

There’s no going back.

In all honesty though, I really love knitting, and I’ve had a lot of time on my hands this summer, so I’ve gone a bit crazy with the whole knitting thing. I’ve made hats and cowls and started multiple unfinished projects.

It’s kind of a problem, but hey, it could be worse. And if anyone breaks into my house the knitting needles make great weapons.

So to further my knitting obsession I bought a $4 sack of yarn scraps at Goodwill. I didn’t know what I was going to do with them, but in my defense, the colors were really pretty.

I searched the trusty internet, and guess what I found?

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Bookmarks! So many DIY bookmarks! Bookmark patterns galore!

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(Bonus points if you can guess the book in the picture.)

So I made some. It only took one episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer each.

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Bonus: Pom pom bookmarks!

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I swear, the world would be a little brighter with more pom poms in it.

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BAM. Beats ripping off newspaper corners to mark your books any day!

If you like these, keep your eyes open: I’m starting an Etsy store soon.

If you haven’t yet, head to Dumblebee to help me choose what book to review next!