The Bookshelf Report is an ongoing series where a Bushwick reader shares a little bit about the books that occupy their shelves.
Put your hands together, welcome Bridget Quigg to the Bookshelf Report stage! (clap, clap, clap…) Bridget is a talented musician/comedian/storyteller.
Her new comedy show Techlandia is a celebration of the “quirks” of tech culture. It’s full of funny jokes, original songs, videos, and games that you’ll actually get to play. Starting February 26th it runs for three weekends at The Schmee in Belltown.
Now… here come the books!
How do you organize your books?
By giving them away. I love them but I don’t usually read them again because there are so many more books I want to read. I’m also “between homes” right now so the precious ones worthy of keeping around are in a plastic storage bin, with the “actives” in a pile by my bed.
Their main groups are: better life skills, health improvement, new languages, new art skills, books to give to my/a kid one day, and yum-yum fiction. Yum-Yum Fiction is the category I pass on the most often. I read ‘em and let ‘em go.
Have you ever given a book away only to regret it later?
Yes. There is one book about intuition and I cannot remember the name of it. I read it in my 20s and loved the stories and the vibe of the author. I only remember that it had a violet-colored cover and silver writing and a multi-colored edge. I’ve even tried to find it in the masses of options on Amazon. Ugh. So annoying. I typically only keep non-fiction books, e.g. recipes or foreign languages, or ones that are part of my “religion” of improv, intuition, kindness, darn’t-we’re-all-connected and inspiring things like that.
I also wish I had just a few more books from my childhood but I’m glad that I have the ones I do.
Be honest. What percentage of your books have you actually read?
All of them except for the ones I have lined up next, so three. I don’t like clutter (thanks to my life-changing bible on how to live, “Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui.” Read it!) I’m picky about the books I bring into my life and am usually ready to devour them. I’m not a collector. I’m a consumer.
Also, it’s rare that I give up on a book. I’m optimistic it will have some value in my life even if it’s 80% unpleasant. The last one I gave up on was J.K. Rowling’s “The Vacancy.” Clearly, that woman has seen some terrible poverty in her life and can describe the racism and classism in her native England very clearly. But, wow, it was just so heavy and sad. I quit around the ⅔ mark after a peek at the ending, which was more bleak than where I was at.
What’s your favorite book on the shelf… err… I mean floor?
Ouch. It’s so painful to pick favorites. I love all my books like they’re people I care about… a lot. I am currently OBSESSED with “The Martian.” It’s good. I know it. So, I’m savoring every drop of nectar it’s giving me until I reach that post-awesome-book sorrow I will feel when the story concludes. I’ll process the sadness at that point and move on.
My maybe favorite book, mostly because the writing is out of this world and the story is so weird, is “Middlesex” by Jeffrey Eugenides. That guy can write the paint off the walls! I love weird – 100 Years of Solitude, Ragtime, Water for Elephants, etc. I get all snuggled up with the characters and am surprised by their circumstances, habits, and choices. My other favorite I mention sometimes is “The Secret Life of Bees” because it kinda falls into my “farm porn” category – books that teach me about living off the land, how nature works, and all forms of food generation without machines. Plus, I love the character August in “Bees.” She’s strong, smart, and patient.
Post-awesome-book sorrow is the worst! What are two other books that left you mourning?
All of them, if we’re being real. But, to name a couple that come to mind, I’d say, “How Green Was My Valley.” It’s the sad tale of a Welsh mining community that gets ruined with coal pollution and modern thinking. You really get to know the characters of this big family and miss them terribly when it’s over. You also want to talk to everyone with a Welsh accent but no one understands you. More sorrow.
Only one more choice? I’m gonna go with “Anne of Green Gables.” I read the whole series in 4th and 5th grade and just LOVED every minute, word, and second. Anne taught me a lot about life and there is no one else in the world quite like her plucky, bright self. With young-adult fiction in mind, a close third would be Harry Potter and his friends. “‘Arry, whactha think yor duin?” (That was supposed to be Hagrid.)
What book do you plan on reading next?
Next on the list is Michael Pollan’s “The Omnivore’s Dilemma.” I have it in my hands. ($2 at the Goodwill!) But, I really want to read “Americanah” by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie so I’m getting in line for it at the library. If it comes in, it goes to the number one spot. I want to read a book by Isabel Allende because her TED talk is one of my favorites. I want to read a book by Ivan Doig. I met him before he died. He seemed wise, funny, and reserved – all qualities I like. And, I have a feeling I would really like his work because I love to get to know places (Montana, in his case), and anything about life “out West.” I especially enjoy reading about life before electricity.
Editor’s sidenote: I once wrote a song inspired by Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma. It’s about how chickens from organic farms aren’t really treated any better than chickens from non-organic farms.
Editor’s sidenote #2: A few years ago Bushwick was a part of an event with Ivan Doig at the University Bookstore. We performed original music inspired by his book The Bartender’s Tale. It was a special night.
What’s your most interesting book?
“Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain” by John J. Ratey. I just finished it and it helped me feel much better about my sometimes-desperate need to exercise. I learned about all the ways exercise helps me focus, be nice, get stuff done, sleep, and not completely melt down into a pile of anger, tears, and impatience. Thanks, exercise!
What is your biggest take away from reading Truth in Comedy?
Overacceptance is way more funny and entertaining than blocking, a.k.a. being a poop. I’m already into the “Yes, and…” theory of improv, where you take someone’s offer, accept it 100% as is, and then add some of your own salsa and hand it back. They do the same for you and you’ll build something magical together. Improv!
With overacceptance, you don’t just say politely, “Yes, well said, old chap.” You go freakin’ nuts and LOVE their idea. “Hey, I just bought peanuts at the store.” “Peanuts are what saved my dog’s life. I friggin’ love peanuts. I worship them. Check out my alter peanuts!” The energy of the scene shoots up and things get real fun and ridiculous real fast.
A great example comedian who did this well is Chris Farley. Even how he took on the “motivational speaker” role he played on SNL was overacceptance. He was sweating he was motivating people so hard. And, he’d get really into whatever anyone else said. He came out of the Del Close, Second City, Chicago improv scene and is mentioned a lot in the book. Fun!
Thanks, Bridget. You are numero uno!
I’m not quite ready to lose my bookshelf yet, but you did inspire me to add a lot more books to the get rid of pile.