Help! (I Need Suggestions) Help!

In the immortal words of my darling Beatles:

When I was younger, so much younger than today . . .

Help me if you can—I’m feeling down, and I do appreciate you bein’ round!

(A quick aside: The Beatles are always right about everything, in case you were unaware.)

To the point, then. The date is Wednesday, October 12, 2011. In approximately 14 months (shy a few days), Yours Truly will be tabbing out of her twenties, only to enter into the next big stage in life: the thirtysomethings. In no way do I consider one in her thirties to be old (I’d say I’m a good 40+ years away from that), but I do think turning thirty is a milestone that shouldn’t go unacknowledged or even uncelebrated. While as an adolescent I had hoped I’d have cured cancer and won myself a Pulitzer by thirty, it just isn’t going to happen, my friends. And that’s okay with me! But that begs another question: What is it, exactly, that I do want to do before I hit the thirty mark? Now that I’m conceivably close to reasonably plotting out the course of my last twentysomething year? What am I going to do with myself for the next few months to make sure that my twenties account for more than economic instability and a long line of mistakes and foibles? To redirect (yet again) to an unnecessary piece of pop culture, how can I—like short-lived Jack Dawson of the HMS Titanic—make it count?

For the last few weeks, like many other almost-thirtysomethings I know, I’ve been thinking about building a 30-before-30 list. The goal of this list is not to challenge myself to accomplish a litany of absurd tasks (such as: Climb Mt. Everest by 30; Publish a series of science fiction novels by 30; Drop 4,193 pounds by 30; etc.), but instead to give myself a fixed set of realistic goals that I believe I will be grateful to have done. Some of the “to dos” may require more work than others, but I think that’s what I wanted this list to be: a combination of larger accomplishments, aligned with some smaller tasks that would perhaps get buried under the larger-task radar. This public broadcast of the list will hopefully bind me to my goals a little more fully, seeing as you will all find me a poor excuse for a woman should I not put my best efforts into accomplishing what I’m setting out to do.

So here, friends, is the list as it stands today:

So there it is: a combination of the large and the small, all of which will be worth my doing. But if you’re quick, you may have noticed that the list is one entry short—which is where you come in.

Help, friends. (I’m pretty sure it’s only those of you who I dearly love who read this blog, really.) What should be #30 on this list? What am I overlooking here? Or what would you challenge me to do, if you were making a list of your own? What could I add to the list that—unlike the more self-serving tasks—makes an effort to improve the world around me? Or, what is something on this list that needs to go, in order to be replaced by something more worth the time and effort? I want some help from you all—the people who know me best.

Take a look at this pathetic creature and tell me she doesn’t need you.

Whaddya’ll say? I need, trust, and value your ideas the most, so please be generous with them! And in turn I promise to you that this will not turn into some warped Julie/Julia project, whereby I curse like a sailor and treat my husband like garbage for the sake of a mediocrely-written blog, only to cheat on him so that I can write a book about that, too. This is my solemn vow.

Love,

Joce

PS – I’d love to hear if any of you have similar resolutions that you’re working on. Do you have your own list? Did you handle (or are you handling) the thirtysomething changing-of-the-decade guard with panache or panic? 

A Quick Gift for Readers

Hey, friends! Joce back with a not-so-heavy post about DIY gifts. If you’ve picked up on any running themes here, you may have noticed that Cath, Jen, and I are three of the biggest book nerds you’ll ever know. When we were all living together in 2137, our cumulative library was pretty darn good; and if one of us didn’t have a book in particular, one of the others probably did. This post is for you book-lovers, and you lovers of book-lovers: while the very best gift for a bookworm might just be a new book, a handmade bookmark might be the next best thing.

When I was a girl, my next-door neighbor and surrogate grandmother Ms. Dot taught me how to cross-stitch, and she also made me the occasional cross-stitched gift. So when I was visiting her over the summer and she handed me this book of patterns, I recognized it immediately:

Dot made me one of these bookmarks and gave it to me probably fifteen years ago. I still have it marking a spot in a favorite book, so it has lasted much longer than the standard bookmark. Since she doesn’t cross-stitch as much anymore, she let me have the patterns, and now I’m going to share one of my own with you.

Materials needed for homemade bookmark:

  • DMC floss in 3 complementary colors
  • grosgrain ribbon in a complementary color
  • needle, scissors, and a small hoop
  • aida cloth in whatever size you want (medium density)
  • hot glue gun

I thought I’d make my own pattern for this one, so feel free to use it yourself. You can easily use graph paper to make your own patterns, but since I couldn’t find any, I made my own with pen and a ruler. A good pattern size for this project is 24 X 24 stitches if you want to get your design on.

Take a look at your ribbon and floss collection, and pick out whichever colors you like together. For this project, I used DMC floss numbers 312, 3348, and 3350.

Dot taught me the trick of finding the center of a cloth scrap by folding it in half twice, then sticking a pin in the corner. It may not be the exact center, but since this scrap is plenty large, close-to-center is good enough. Start your stitching from the center, then work your way out.

I like how this one turned out a little bit like a pinwheel. Once you’re done with the cross-stitching and outlining, cut your square out with four extra lines of cloth around the edges:

Next, to create a frayed look around the edges, use a needle or pin to lift out two layers of the horizontal fabric. Depending on the tension of your fabric, this may be easy or a bit more difficult.

You are almost done! All that’s left to do is cut your grosgrain to whatever length you want. With a dab of hot glue, adhere the ribbon to the back of your square. And if you want, you can cut a fancy notch in the bottom of the ribbon like so:

This bookmark is so easy and really does not take much time at all. In fact, I cranked out a couple of these while watching two episodes of The Wire over the weekend. I gave one to my granddad for his birthday, since he really is impossible to buy for. And if my cat hadn’t so mercilessly eaten the other one, I might have sent it to someone else. I’ll just pretend I sent it to Omar Little for his copy of Ghettoheat.

Cheers,

Joce

PS – Thanks to everyone for the feedback on the Troy Davis post. Though the outcome of  Davis’s story is just as tragic as many of us expected, it serves as a reminder that this important discussion is far from over. Peace and love, J.

“forsooth for to do doom, and for to love mercy”

Do you know this man?

His name is Troy Anthony Davis, and he is scheduled to die Wednesday evening by the method of lethal injection.

Normally this blog has served as a place for C, J, and I to pursue lighthearted interests and to step away from the grind of our normal routines. But more often than we’d like, we all have to pause and consider the heavier aspects of a world that is not always glittery and golden. I’ve wanted to articulate my thoughts about this subject for a while but have been hesitant to do so; yet I think the imminent execution of Troy Davis demonstrates how this issue is most literally one involving life or death. So this serves as your disclaimer: No happy news here today.

If you are unfamiliar with the case of Troy Davis, a bit of research is insightful. Convicted of killing a white police office in 1991, Troy has maintained his innocence throughout 20 years of appeals. At the time of conviction, Davis’s case was based solely upon testimony and completely lacked physical evidence. Since his conviction, many of those testimonies have changed, casting extreme doubt upon the case’s foundation. Several of those who testified against Davis are now confessing that they only testified under police pressure, and seven of the nine jurors in the trial now believe that Troy Davis is an innocent man.

Last week CNN released an interview with a Pastor Johnson of Savannah, who says he drove Troy Davis from Atlanta to Savannah to turn himself into the police after the search warrant on Davis had been publicized. Johnson claims that though he spent several hours with Davis during the time prior to his submission to the police, no one at the DA’s office found him even worth interviewing. Evidence like this that has come to light over the last twenty years paints a picture of a legal operation bent upon convicting Troy Davis whether he was the guilty man or not.

Of course Troy Davis’s situation is worthy of note because the evidence against him is so, so unconvincing at this point. If the death penalty is intended to be an arbiter of justice, then one must question whether any person who (in the court of public opinion) is found to be probably-not-guilty ought to spend another moment on death row. At the very least Davis deserves another trial, because the odds are high that he has spent twenty years of his life in jail for a crime he never committed—which, in turn, means that someone else who IS guilty walks free. This is hardly justice, but rather a superficial solution to the very real problem of a very real murder.

But Davis’s situation is not completely exceptional, though I wish it were. Since 1973, at least 135 convicted murderers have been taken off death row due to overturned convictions. Others have been executed whose guilt has been called into question far too late (see this article about Cameron Willingham in the New Yorker). Unlike other forms of punishment, execution is one that cannot be stopped midway or rectified later. What’s done is done when it comes to putting someone to death: a dead person will always be dead.

Beyond the standard arguments regarding the surface-level “just-ness” of the death penalty, there are less obvious concerns as well. First, it is rarely acknowledged that the system that determines who goes onto death row lacks consistency. There are no standardized systems for determining whose crimes are “most flagrant” or “most vicious,” which is upsetting. I doubt anyone would argue that justice ought to be arbitrary. Second, many states have a history of executing people whose economic backgrounds prevent them from affording the best legal defenses. Some studies argue that around 95% of inmates on death row in certain states have relied on public defenders out of economic necessity.

Third, the death penalty demonstrates racist trends. In my state of Arkansas, there are currently 23 black, 16 white, and 1 hispanic male/s on death row. This alone does not demonstrate a racist system, but a closer look at the cases themselves does. David Baldus, a former professor of law at the University of Iowa, has frequently been cited as a source for his statistical work on death row cases because his findings suggest that while the race of the perpetrator may alone say very little, the race of the victim says very much. In fact, his statistical research demonstrated that a black person convicted of killing a white person is four times more likely to receive the death penalty than a white person who kills a white person. Building upon Baldus’s work, watchdog groups have pointed out that 253 black persons have been executed for killing whites, while only 16 white persons have been executed for killing black persons since 1973. This makes very little sense, considering there are roughly as many white persons as black persons currently sitting on death row across the United States. The numbers are striking.

Another set of numbers to take into consideration is the cost of the death penalty: cost picked up by the taxpayers. It is virtually impossible to argue that the legal fees associated with the death penalty are not exorbitant. Recent research in California—a state with its own present financial troubles—suggests that California’s taxpayers have paid $4 billion in death-row-related legal fees since 1978. Currently, that cost is $184 million per year in a state with hardly enough money to pay the bills. With 700+ inmates on death row, California could significantly save millions of dollars by simply placing a moratorium on the extremely costly system. California is just one state to prove that it is much more expensive to execute a person than to keep that person in jail for life.

While no one has been able to prove that the death penalty actually deters crime, most of the people in my life who support the death penalty do so because they believe that the Old Testament law upheld it. I cannot argue with this because there is no doubt that the old law relied upon it. In fact, children who disrespected their parents, kidnappers, those who trespassed the Sabbath, psychic mediums, adulterers, and others were also subject to the death penalty under the old law. The books of Exodus and Leviticus are filled with the phrase “shall be put to death.”

However, the people who most frequently refer to the old law are Christians, whose Christ came not to abolish the law but to fulfill it (Matt. 5:17). What sets Christ’s spirit apart from the old law’s spirit is that grace and mercy rule, rather than retribution in equal measure trying to settle the scales. Though the old law attempted to maintain justice, Christ’s presence taught us that humankind is too far gone to “settle up” with God; that we can never, ever deserve the grace he offers to all.

When Christ told us to love our enemies and pray for those who treat us badly, it is a radical command. And it doesn’t end there: we were commanded to do so because “He himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men” (Luke 6:35). It’s no longer a law about what people deserve or don’t deserve, but rather about acknowledging the universal need for grace that trickles down from on high. I submit that I cannot understand how people place their faith in such an overwhelming love, and at the same time insist that Christ Himself would have endorsed ending a person’s life, no matter how guilty that person is found to be according to God or man.

Perhaps the one story that seems most applicable here—and the one story I have yet to have heard in relation to the Christian stance on the death penalty—is the story of the adulterous woman in John 8. The Pharisees bring a guilty woman to Christ in order to see how he will enact justice upon her. Though she is subject to death by the law, Christ knows that the law has become weak. He says to the Pharisees, “He who is without sin among you, let him be the first to throw a stone at her.” For the Pharisees, the law is no longer even about justice, but about demonstrating outward superiority. But Christ’s point is that sin is universal, as is the need for grace; and that the woman’s outward sign of sin was no worse than the sinful hearts of the Pharisees before him. Christ reveals that the law, fulfilled, is one that recognizes the spirit of mankind, both visible and invisible. By refusing to condemn the woman, he demonstrates a new spirit that operates by grace and mercy toward every guilty creature.

Perhaps you disagree with my arguments, and that is okay with me. I appreciate nothing more than thoughtful debates regarding subjects of importance. The execution issue is doubly controversial due to its religious and political aspects, so feel free to leave me a comment, question, or complaint below. No debate will ever atone Mark MacPhail—the police officer who can never be brought back, whose death was senseless, and whose murder will never be paid for even after Troy Davis is executed on Wednesday night. No amount of mortal blood can offset such crimes, but perhaps the blood of God’s son already has.

Do some research for yourself. Check out your state’s records on the death penalty, and pray for spiritual guidance regarding how to make sense of justice and grace in light of pain. Opposing the death penalty ought not diminish the lives of the murdered, or those who suffer because of lives that are lost. Pray for peace to reign in the hearts of MacPhail’s family, as well as Troy Davis’s family. Pray for those who have lost loved ones to death of all sorts, and pray for that day when

He’ll establish justice in the rabble of nations
and settle disputes in faraway places.
They’ll trade in their swords for shovels,
their spears for rakes and hoes.
Nations will quit fighting each other,
quit learning how to kill one another.
Each man will sit under his own shade tree,
each woman in safety will tend her own garden.
God-of-the-Angel-Armies says so,
and he means what he says. (Micah 4)

Shalom,

Joce

PS – Consider contacting Georgia DA Larry Chisolm by clicking here and asking that he intervene on Troy’s behalf. Or, check out some other ways to help Troy avoid execution (including calling the Georgia Board of Pardon and Paroles) by clicking here.

Oui, oui, Paris! (Wanderlust #1)

A few weeks ago, I fell down the stairs and broke my foot.

This will surprise no one, seeing as I’m remarkably prone to tripping over my own feet or in this case, tripping over nothing at all.

It’s not a bad enough break to put me on crutches (thank goodness), but it has landed me on the couch even more so than usual. And recently—during one of many sedentary hours—I ran across the first episode of No Reservations in which Anthony Bourdain hits Paris.

Tony with Eric Ripert and Joel Robuchon (from travelchannel.com)

Have I mentioned before how much I adore Tony B? He has the most perfect job in the world, if you ask me (travel + food + great company); and to be honest, my crush on him is not small. A friend of mine told me she met him at a book launch party one time, and I nearly had a heart attack.

This episode was perfection, and set the standard for the show’s success. Between trying absinthe and hallucinating in the hotel bedroom where Oscar Wilde died, and enjoying  a croissant for breakfast in one of Paris’s many cafes, Tony cruises up and down French streets taking in the daily atmosphere of one of the world’s most luxurious cities. Heaven on Earth, I say. I can almost taste the cheese.

SatC - "An American Girl in Paris"

Paris fascinates so many of us Americans for a lot of reasons, but I think it’s mostly because we think Parisians live a life that is diametrically opposite to ours. The slow, daily romance of Paris stands in contrast to the American grind. Long Starbucks lines versus a leisurely pastry and cup of cappuccino in the morning. Aged wine versus Coca-Cola. Utilitarian office buildings versus Montmartre.

Like most girls my age, I wanted to visit the Paris of Amelie.

And that’s exactly what I did in 2002.

I spent my twentieth birthday in Bayeux, Normandy, and Paris, eating quiche and frolicking along the Seine like a fool. We gawked at the lights along the Avenue des Champs-Élysées and ate nutella crepes until we wanted to barf. My friends and I stalked photo booths in Paris Nord, looking for our own version of Mathieu Kassovitz. We spent five hours at the Louvre, though we could have spent five days. I was so exhausted from taking it all in that I fell asleep against a wall in the Musée d’Orsay. It was an incredible time, and looking back on it now, I cannot believe how it was almost ten years ago.

So as I sat on the couch feeling sorry for myself because I could barely walk down the street (let alone travel anywhere), I thought bringing Paris to me would be the next best thing to being there with Tony. And what says “Paris in the morning” more than a hot, flaky butter croissant?

I’d made these once before and had been so impressed with the recipe that I tried it again. You can find it all here at Epicurious.com.

It’s not a quick procedure, making croissants. It basically takes two days, and lots and lots of rolling. But once the dough is ready to take shape, it rises and rises on its own, which gives it that light-and-airy quality.

After being shaped on a baking sheet and allowed to sit (in a garbage-bag balloon contraption) for a few hours, the dough rises beautifully. You can already see the layers forming.

The first time I made these, I could not believe how well they turned out. They looked like the real thing, and they tasted pretty good too. This recipe is a labor of love, but it was worth the payoff. And if I can do it, you most definitely can too.

Anyone else feeling wanderlusty right now? Any tips for taming the anywhere-but-here beast?

Au revoir, mes amis!

*Joce

To Mary Flannery: In Memoriam

It’s August 3, 2011; and it was exactly forty-seven years ago today that my all-time favorite writer—Mary Flannery O’Connor—died of Lupus complications at the young age of 39. When this day approaches every year, I can’t help but take a moment to reflect upon the bizarre, uncommon woman whose authorial presence influences everything I write and even read. Sometimes when placed in puzzling or upsetting situations, I have wondered to myself, “What would Flannery O’Connor say about this? What would she do?” From what I know of her, she would say something morbid or shocking and above all, hilarious. She would reveal the hidden and immortal layer of things. And she would do it by bringing you to tears of joy, sorrow, or gratefulness. To be sure, Flannery will not take you on a leisurely walk in the park.

If you are not familiar with O’Connor or her work, consider your life the worse for it. I remember reading “Revelation” (one of her short works) for the first time and believing that it was the most perfect short story ever written—which is exactly how I still feel about it. In fact the last two paragraphs of that story may be the most perfectly-composed paragraphs I’ve ever read, as we see the same vision of heaven that Mrs. Turpin—the story’s arrogant and self-righteous protagonist—experiences:

There was only a purple streak in the sky, cutting through a field of crimson and leading, like an extension of the highway, into the descending dusk. She raised her hands from the side of the pen in a gesture hieratic and profound. A visionary light settled in her eyes. She saw the streak as a vast swinging bridge extending upward from the earth through a field of living fire. Upon it a vast horde of souls were rumbling toward heaven.

The prose is beautifully aflame, and O’Connor’s vision of the heavenly pageant is more transcendent, graceful, and apocalyptic than any other. Beyond the grit and grotesqueness that have made her so distinctive, she still delights us with a nonpareil image of the supernatural grace that ordered her life and her universe.

Last year it was my great pleasure to visit both of Flannery’s childhood homes. I convinced my family to take a detour on our way to Savannah, Georgia, so that we could visit Andalusia—the home in Milledgeville where O’Connor did much of her writing and lived the last years of her short life.

Set back from the main drag in Milledgeville, and even further from the old downtown, Andalusia is a beautiful, quiet old farm with rolling trails and plenty of shade trees. One can imagine Flannery, even in her weakened state, taking a walk around the grounds and being inspired by the simple beauty of the place.

Inside the home visitors can see some of Flannery’s books, her crutches, and other items that furnished the home. Some of the books on display include her snarky marginalia.

downstairs bedroom, with Flannery's crutches

"M.F. O'Connor - a splendid book"

"This is absolutely the worst book I have ever read - don't read it. M.F. O'Connor"

Though they aren’t from the bloodline of the several peacocks O’Connor kept around the farm (in her essay “The King of the Birds” she reckons she had around forty altogether), Andalusia has a few of the beautiful creatures on the grounds to keep the spirit of the place alive. Of peafowl, O’Connor wrote: “I have never known a strutting peacock to budge a fraction of an inch for truck or tractor or automobile. It is up to the vehicle to get out of the way. No peafowl of mine has ever been run over, though one year one of them lost a foot in the mowing machine” (“The King of the Birds,” Mystery and Manners).

In a sentimental act common to readers, I couldn’t leave Milledgeville without paying homage to Flannery’s grave. After stopping by the Sacred Heart Catholic Church—where O’Connor attended mass most days—we found her stone along the edge of the nearby city graveyard beneath a shade-bearing tree. As I stood and reflected on the short life she had lived—and the eternal one she never lost sight of—I imagined her being a tour guide in heaven, showing her readers around the pearly gates with the most sarcastic and odd commentary eternity has ever seen.

To Mary Flannery, my friendliest of literary friends: thanks for the art you have given to the world, and to me. Like you, it is immortal.

Love,

Jocelyn

PS — Go here for an audio recording of O’Connor reading her story “A Good Man Is Hard to Find.” It’s even better in that Georgia voice.

PPS — Check out the Flannery O’Connor Conference I’m thinking about attending at Loyola University Chicago.

Next Stop, Project Runway

Hey, friends! Can you believe it’s almost August? As summers typically do, this one seems to have slipped into some mysterious black hole. But even more importantly (at least for the purposes of this blog), can you believe it’s time for one of the best shows on TV—Project Runway— to enter its NINTH season? I’ve been watching it for all eight previous seasons, and I’m certainly watching it tonight.

hot mess tranny fierce

Can I confess that I’ve always secretly wanted to be on Project Runway? I mean, who wouldn’t want to take shopping trips to Mood with Tim Gunn? Or be insulted by Michael Kors himself (a la, “I’m sorry, but it looks like a purple fern with angel wings”)? Heck, I’d even be fine getting the “You’re out” from Heidi. But one thing holding me up from this far-out little fantasy is the fact that I can’t sew.

But that’s all going to change, and I hope you all can help me with this. A few weeks ago, I ordered this:

1-2-3 Sew by Ellen Luckett Baker is a charming little book with charming little patterns, all intended to build upon each other. The projects start out as simply as possible, and the goal is for the beginning seamster/seamstress to learn small skills along the way. The sewing tasks get a little more complicated the further you work your way through the book, maximizing what Baker has called a “building-block approach to sewing.” The projects are organized in groups of three:

And thankfully, every project is supplemented with lots and lots of helpful photographs and diagrams:

So, it’s with fear and trepidation (and an incredibly sketchy sewing machine that I bought from what may just have been a female drug-dealer in Hendersonville, TN) that I start this teach-myself-to-sew journey. I already finished the first project—a tea towel with basic folded corners—using my sister’s sewing machine and some Mary Engelbriet fabric my mom found at her thrift store.

It’s crooked, it has errors, and it’s definitely longer on one side than the other. But you know what? It’s a tea towel; and I will probably accidentally set it on fire anyway. And amazingly, I didn’t puncture my finger ONCE while turning the corners.

So, friends—I know several of you are masters with your sewing machines, so what helped you get started? Did someone teach you, or are you self-trained? What recommendations would you give to a greenhorn seamstress? Any resources you think I ought to check out? I’m determined to become proficient at this one, ladies and gentlemen!!!

Also, what are your first impressions of this new season of PR? After watching this first challenge tonight (pajamas + your bedsheet = high fashion), I’m not sure I’ll ever have a stable enough blood pressure for this show.

Tschuss!

Joce

Coronation of Books

Catherine here with another post about books.

In my last post, I shared my lofty goals for summer reading.  While the pace of my reading has been steady, the volume has not been as exceptional as I might have hoped.  I’ll tell you WHAT has been exceptional: the amount of TV I’ve watched thanks to the wonder that is Netflix.  But that’s a post for another time.

A common bond uniting the three ladies of 2137 is a love of BOOKS.  We all boast (not sure that’s the right word, ha!) English majors (Jocelyn is working on English degree numero tres), and Jocelyn and Jennifer make their living by loving books. This shared love was the unofficial theme of Christmas 2010.  Jennifer gave us each Hatch Show Prints celebrating the 30 years of the now deceased Davis Kidd Booksellers.  (My print is now framed and hanging proudly in our entryway).

Jocelyn, delight that she is, gave me bookplates.  Mine have lain dormant until today when I chose books worthy of receiving a bookplate!

To choose the tomes worthy enough to receive a bookplate (and immortalization as one of MY books), I knew I had to go to the holiest of holies: my FICTION collection.

Beauties.

While there are lots of books throughout our humble abode, I hold my fiction dearest.  Try as I might to read nonfiction, I will always be a fiction girl.  So these are the books that live in our bedroom because they are my favorites.  (Not pictured: books on my nightstand, those that have been loaned, and the ones that still live in Chattanooga).

I plopped myself down in front of these lovelies to pick the 8 that would receive a bookplate:

Here are the winners (surprisingly, one book of non-fiction made the cut!):

Elite Eight

They are, in no particular order:

(Before I go any further, let me say that I think books are the ultimate home-decor item.  I long for a day when I can line entire walls with books.  See my Long Live Books pinterest board to see what I’m talking about…).

Let the Great World Spin by Colum McCann

Atonement by Ian McEwan

The Good Life by Jay McInerney

The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society by Mary Ann Shaffer and Annie Barrows

The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver

The Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri (I love her)

And for the one non-fiction honoree:

Listening to Your Life by Frederick Buechner (so love-worn)

So there are the initial 8.  I believe that all of these are books I have read in the last few years so they do not necessarily (or exclusively) represent my favorites of all time. Some are loaned out and others are in Chattanooga but these 8 books are the ones on my shelves that I love most dearly.

I had two bonus bookplates (I gave bookplates to some graduates from my school and had extras) and so the two books that earned these were:

Admission by Jean Hanff Korelitz

and

The Help by Kathryn Stockett

Here are two in their plated glory:

Plate from Jocelyn

Leftover plate (from papermonkeypress, etsy.com)

So there you have it!  My initial inductees into the “Catherine Bookplate Hall of Fame!”  If any of these books strike your fancy, make your way to a brick and mortar bookshop and pick one up today.

(And in case you were wondering, here’s what Atticus and MowMow did during my bookplate-ing ceremony):

Useless creatures.

xoxox and happy reading,

catherine