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Hazel & Wren Staff Shelfie: Cassidy Foust

2015 November 12
by Cassidy Foust

The Writing Life

Editor’s Note: Dear readers — today, we share with you another one of our shelfies. AaronWrenJessica, and Taylor have shared their shelfies, and we’ll have yet another next week. Today’s post is from one of our newest staff members, Cassidy Foust. We’re so happy to have her and her book-stacking self on the Hazel & Wren team. Read on!

Friends, I have a confession. It’s a terrible, blasphemous confession:

shelfieI don’t own a bookshelf.

It’s not that I don’t have enough books to warrant one. As an English major who spent her college years working in a bookstore, I have accumulated more than my fair share of paperbacks, textbooks, picture books, and galleys. And yet, somehow, nowhere along the line did I ever acquire a bookshelf. Instead, I became… a book piler. I pile books under my bed. I pile them on top of my desk, on the top shelf of my closet, or just on the floor. Sometimes, they’re organized. Mostly, they’re precariously stacked in an entirely random configuration (and the book I most want to read is always, always found at the bottom).

This particular stack is my newest jumble of books. I stood next to them for scale. I’m 5’9″.


The top of this pile features several of my current favorite reads: Men Explain Things to Me (by Rebecca Solnit), a series of snarky feminist essays on “mansplaining”; The Breakbeat Poets: New American Poetry in the Age of Hip-Hop (edited by Kevin Coval, Quraysh Ali Lansana, and Nate Marshall), a stunning anthology; and Welcome to Night Vale (by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor), a geeky sci-fi triumph based on the popular podcast.


The middle of the pile holds a book very near and dear to my YA-genre-loving heart: The Rest of Us Just Live Here, by Patrick Ness. It’s one part homage to, one part satire of the dystopian/fantasy trope of the “Chosen One” — the story of what happens to the normal kids in town while the Chosen Ones are off fulfilling prophecies and sacrificing goats to vampires. It’s the Cabin in the Woods of young adult literature, if you will. Ness pokes fun at the genre (and also himself) while also explaining that it’s okay to love hokey stuff like this. At the end of the day, Ness says, we don’t read genre lit for brilliant plotlines or stunning worldbuilding (though those might be side-effects). We read it to connect to each other. We read it because, underneath the unicorns and alien abductions, we’re all just humans struggling to be.

The middle of this pile comes with a second confession (though this one is likely more familiar to most bibliophiles I know): I haven’t actually read about 85% of the books I hoard. I can’t walk past a bookstore without buying at least one thing. If I magically find myself at an event where books are being handed out for free, I take all of them. All of them. This bad (?) habit, plus the fact that there are only 24 hours in a day, means that I rarely ever finish all of my TBRs before buying new ones.

In my opinion, there are much worse problems to be had. Because of my myriad book stacks of unread titles, I will never face the agony of not having anything to read. My book piles may not be tidy (or accessible… or practical…), but they’re great conversation starters, and hey — I’m always prepared to stage an impromptu obstacle course.

What are some unconventional places you’ve stored books?


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