It has been a while, my friends.

Things have not necessarily been busy, but things have been happening, things have been changing, and things are moving in all kinds of directions.  All of this changing can throw a girl off her game.

One of these changing things is that my room-mate and best friend Sarah went home for the summer, leaving me lonesome in our small two-bedroom apartment.  This drastic change in lifestyle made me aware of the fact that I’ve never lived alone before, and I’ve come to realize that I’m not very good at it.  I get lonely.

There is an unfair stigma attached to loneliness, I think.  It makes people feel bad for you, but at the same time admitting to those feelings makes you look needy, like you’re asking to be saved from yourself.  Admitting to being lonely seems like a surefire way to stay that way.

Now ‘they’ (the experts, of course) are saying that loneliness may in fact be a clinical disorder.  There’s a whole article about it in the May issue of ELLE.

Enter “Lonely” by Emily White.

The cover jumped out at me when I first saw it because it is so simple.  Mixing black and white with practically any colour is always a good design choice.  It’s easy for the eyes to understand.  Also, I must admit I liked it so much because it is almost exactly like a cover I re-designed for Lyn Hejinian’s “My Life” as a project for a Contemporary Women Poets class I took back in 2007.  The mock up was a pizza box covered in computer paper, but my professor liked it so much that he told me I should have sent it to Hejinian, which I did not.  Anyways, it makes me feel nice to know that my design sensibility is fairly solid.

Because I am now an experienced veteran at this whole living alone situation, here is my only tip on how to avoid being lonely:

Do not listen to this song.

Let me know how that works out for you!


books and more


When time separates us humans from spring, we tend to remember it the way that songs and TV frame it for us:  renewal of life, emergence from hibernation, sunshine and new love.  Spring is all of these things and it can be glorious.  What we forget are the days of rain, the never ending battle of wind VS. umbrella, and the muddy white shoes.  Spring doesn’t really know what it wants to be yet; it’s in an in-between period, but it’s getting there.  Spring is totally crazy, but the good days make up for the bad, right?

Lately I’ve been feeling like spring.  In other words, a little crazy.  Everything is either good or bad.  One minute I am overjoyed by the fact that today kicks of Rolling Stones week on American Idol and the next I’m saying “the best thing about life is that we all die anyways, so nothing really matters” to my room-mate, in a serious way.

You’ll be happy to know that today was a good day.  The sun was out and I was set on seeking out this second-hand bookstore called Books and More just east of Woodbine.

If the name of the store were going for accuracy, it should perhaps be re-named “John Grisham Paperbacks and OH MY GOD LOOK AT ALL THIS VINYL!”

There were rows and rows of it.  There were multiple copies of multiple Zeppelin albums.  There was Let it Be for $10.  Unfortunately, there was no credit accepted.  You see?  So many ups and downs.

This is taking too long.  The point is that I didn’t find any inspirational book covers, but instead found some pretty hilarious albums.  Hilarious, and obscure, because practically every album I wrote down to feature here has somehow been kept a secret from the internet.  Every album, except for this gem:

Bronski Beat is a band I’d never heard of before today.  I think I would have survived should they have remained unknown to me.  I like this cover because those words are written out in sprinkles and I recently had an enjoyable encounter with a vanilla dip sprinkle doughnut —  it was enjoyable because there was a surprising jelly centre!

I also like it because it reminds me a lot of this iconic Rolling Stones album that’s pretty fantastic conceptually:

Up:  Rolling Stones week on American Idol.

Down:  Not having cable.

It’s March break, and I feel like I can breathe again, think again, maybe even feel again, though this is perhaps the result of the new light of my life: the Neti Pot.  You can thank me for that picture in person, if you want.

The Neti Pot is actually irrelevant to this blog post.  It’s been 3 days since I’ve even thought about schoolwork, and it feels so good. I spent the weekend in Ottawa with my dear friend and former room-mate Caroline.  I met her extended family, we drove around a lot, saw Alice in Wonderland, ate delicious food, and I bought a Neti Pot.  That is not the end, though, my friends.

All these years, she’s been keeping a secret from me.

Every once in a while during our time together, Caroline would mention that her dad had a library in the  basement of their house.  I figured she meant like, a few bookshelves for outdated Pharmaceutical Encyclopedias, weird self-help books from the 90s and Kama Sutra guides to make the kids uncomfortable (like my mom’s ‘library’), but in hindsight, I should have known better when our other room-mate Moira (who worked at the library) found a book that Caroline’s dad had written while re-shelving  books during one of her shifts in our 3rd year at King’s.

THIS is the library (and Caroline):

YOU GUYS.  It’s an actual library.  It has an organizational system and real library shelves.  I wouldn’t have been surprised if there was an old lady shh-ing me from behind a pile of books.

I was in shock and immediately developed a new life goal, which is obviously to be as cool as Caroline’s dad.

Upon perusing this newly discovered holy ground, I noticed that most of the authors from the FYP program were fairly well-represented.  In that moment, it made sense to me why she took the program.  I still don’t know why I ended up there, but I think it’s safe to assume that I thought I would meet more literary hotties like Hamlet.  Instead, I ended up with a painfully vague understanding of philosophy, an insufficient introduction to Wollstonecraft as the first crazy feminist,  and a weird obsession with homoeroticism, younger boys and their teeth.

Anyways, all the reminiscing on memories of insecurity relating to the academic world reminded me of this book I saw a man reading on the subway a few weeks ago.

It was originally published in 1938, but then translated to English in 1949.  I am assuming this is the original cover for the English translation.  Even though I’m always attracted to colour, there’s nothing more powerful than a balance between black and white, text and image.

I have an interview tomorrow for an internship at Tightrope Books, so I decided it would be best to conduct research the old-fashioned way: at the bookstore to really feel their products.  They use nice paper.  I told myself I could buy only 1 book (left with 2), one of which being tiny, square, and grey .

It is absolutely brilliant.  It is illustrated.  It is a love story about Etcetera and Otherwise’s 28-day roadtrip where they encounter a lot of really crazy characters.  It’s also totally erotic, and not in the same way those Harlequin Romances I’ve been editing are.  To demonstrate what I mean, here is a poster featured on the author Sean Stanley’s website:

I cannot pass full judgment because I have yet to read it in full, but if a book can get you smiling in the middle of a crowded subway platform, then you know it’s going to be alright.  It’s a little abstract, maybe a little precious, totally self-aware, beautifully written and very, very clever.  An editor’s dream and nightmare because every detail is intentional.  Don’t worry, you can borrow it.

Book trailers are really hip right now.  Jordan told me so.  Here’s the pretty hilarious trailer for this book.  If you need enticing, Atwood drives a transport truck with the words “NO SEX IN CANADIAN FICTION” sprawled across its side.

p.s. I’m too sleepy to conceal my mention of music in this post, so watch this video, be enthralled by bouncy gold glitter, and think of that lesbian group T.A.T.U.  I can’t get enough of it.

Whether you love or hate Valentine’s Day, there is no way to ignore it.  Normally, this would be the moment where I start ranting about holidays that make large chunks of the population feel sad, but instead I’ve decided to put my personal feelings towards V-Day aside and focus on others this weekend.

I’m a pretty empathetic person.  I like to help people out, and I figured that a good use of my time would be to compile soundtracks for all those out there who are affected in some way by Valentine’s Day, whether it be good or bad.  Nothing as good as Joni Chainsaw or Quotable Douchebag, but I think you’ll enjoy nonetheless.

For the Scorned

1.  Quit Playing Games With My Heart – Backstreet Boys  (in the 5th grade my favourite Backstreet Boy was Kevin, but all of my friends made fun of me so I lied and ‘fell in love’ with Nick.  What a mistake.  Now Kevin is happily married with children, and Nick is an alcoholic who tried to recapture his glory days by appearing on a terrible (albeit really entertaining) reality TV show called House of Carters.  Moral of the story?  Trust your instincts, ladies.  Trust your instincts.

2.  Cry Me a River – Justin Timberlake (I like boy bands, alright? Get over it.)

3.  Heartless – Kanye West

4.  Your Time is Gonna Come – Led Zeppelin

5.  Smile – Lily Allen

6.  Up Out My Face – Mariah Carey feat. Nicki Minaj (totally my current jam courtesy of Hilary.  Nicki Minaj is a-ma-zing.)

7.  Silver Lining – Rilo Kiley (Jenny Lewis is my hero.)

For the Jaded Albeit Slightly Hopeful

1.  What About Love – Heart (there’s something about the 80s power ballad that makes everything in life seem that much more important.  My personal Heart favourite: Alone.)

2. Dead Letter and the Infinite Yes – Wintersleep

3.  L’Amour Ne Dure Pas Toujours – Feist (for those of you who can’t speak french, this song is essentially saying that love does not last forever, and the affair in question was just another experience and her heart is taking a vacation.  This is the original.)

4. Sunday Kind of Love – Etta James (this song has taken over my life.  it’s everywhere I go and I don’t mind one bit.)

5. Have You Ever Seen The Rain – Creedence Clearwater Revival

6.  Little Bit – Lykke Li

7.  Brown Trout Blues – Johnny Flynn (beautiful man.  beautiful line: I could be somewhere else/ I should be someone else / But you shouldn’t tell me what to do.)

For the Broken-Hearted

1.  White Blank Page – Mumford and Sons (have I mentioned I’m seeing Mumford and Sons LIVE ON MONDAY?  with that out of the way, this live version is a little rough around the edges, but it’s filmed beautifully and in some quaint British bookstore and it features beards, banjos, plaid and dramatic outpouring of emotions.  it doesn’t get better.  it just doesn’t.)

2.  Slow Dancing In a Burning Room – John Mayer

3.  Laughing – Guess Who (fan videos are the best!)

4. Handle With Care – Traveling Wilburys (talk about a supergroup.)

5.  Temazcal – Monsters of Folk

6.  Come Pick Me Up – Ryan Adams (and then he married Mandy Moore.)

7.  9 Crimes – Damien Rice (if you want to weep for hours on end, you should probably just go ahead and listen to his entire discography.)

For Those In Love

1.  Whatta Man – Salt ‘N Pepa (if you find someone who spends quality time with his kids [when he can, of course] AND who’s so crazy that you want to have his baby, then you better lock him down.)

2.  I’m in Love – John Lennon (I’ve heard rumours that this was recorded in a bathroom.  wherever it was recorded, it is quite possibly the sweetest song by Lennon and one of my favourites.)

3.  Maybe I’m Amazed – Paul McCartney

4.  Like a Hurricane – Neil Young

5.  Syrop and Honey – Duffy

6.  Wild Horses – The Rolling Stones (this is a clip from Gimme Shelter.)

7.  Murder in the City – The Avett Brothers

For Those Whose Favourite Movie is Dirty Dancing

it’s only appropriate to have a section on our Valentine’s Day soundtrack list devoted entirely to the movie with the best soundtrack and love story EVER.

You think this is a joke?

It’s not.

1.  Cry to Me – Solomon Burke

2.  Hungry Eyes – Eric Carmen

3.  Love is Strange – Mickey and Sylvia

4.  Stay – Maurice Williams and the Zodiacs

5.  Do You Love Me – The Contours (you broke my heart / ‘cuz I couldn’t dance / you didn’t even want me around / but now I’m back / to let you know / I can really shake ’em down.)

6.  She’s Like The Wind – Patrick Swayze (genius at work here.)

7.  Time of My Life – Bill Medley and Jennifer Warner (you can’t tell me you don’t cry every time Baby finally does the lift.)

There you have it.

I know this has nothing to do with book covers, so for good measure, here are a few vintage covers from a DC comic called Girls’ Love Stories that I find totally fascinating.  They say they’re love stories, so I saved them just for the big day.

“He’s not kissing me.  He’s kissing her.  His GHOST LOVE!”

“She’s young… beautiful…but ALONEWHY?”

“If you were half a woman you’d help!”

I have recently discovered a blog entitled Salty Ink that focuses on Atlantic Canadian writing.  Appropriately enough for this blog (what, you want me to say blog again?) they are having a little competition called “Judge A Book By Its Cover”.  So go, be heartless!  Judge a book, I dare you!

I am a little ashamed to admit that I haven’t read very much literature from my homeland.  When you are from a small place, you tend to place value in big-city living.  Halifax was the closest place to my hometown that actually felt like a city, and though it is a small city, it is the best city in my eyes.

I had to leave because there is not much work for new graduates in a city full of new graduates.  That, however, does not mean that there isn’t some really cool stuff going on there.

Just take a look at this book cover from the longlist of Salty Ink’s competition:

Images like this aren’t usually my style.  I tend to be drawn towards bright colors contrasted with white space.  But this.  This is beautiful.  That detailed conglomeration of distinct wingspans against a muted backdrop of what looks an awful lot like the Annapolis Valley to me.  I also really have a thing for text that lack capital letters.  The stable level just really pleases my eye.  You can see the full book cover here.  It really gets me when front covers bleed into back covers.  It’s very unifying.  Also, if you had that book in your hand and you spread those covers, you would probably notice the way that pile of birds kind of looks like a heart.  It’s the little things, perhaps unintentional, that please me the most.

This book is published by Invisible Publishing, one of the few publishing companies on the east coast.  They are so great.  Like, really cool.  Upon further investigation, I just realized that they published a book by Stacy May Fowles, whose novel Be Good kind of blew me out of the water.

They also published the book Homing by Stephanie Domet, a Radio professor of mine at King’s.  She’s the host of CBC’s Mainstreet and she is one of the best instructors I’ve ever had.

The cover of her book is amazing, too.  It is designed by the same designer as the Quon book above.  The bird image wraps around the back of this one as well.  The reverse shadow image is really effective, and I love the tilt of the title.

One of the central characters of this novel is a ghost that hangs around in front of the Halifax Public Libraries on Spring Garden Road and Brunswick Street.  Other identifying characteristics of this book include musicians and homing pigeons set against the backdrop of Halifax.  It is a lovely book.  You should buy it or at least borrow it from me.

In conclusion, now I miss home.

Read The Coast, see Wintersleep or Joel Plaskett, eat a Freeman’s poutine, live on Henry Street.  What I would give.

“It was that kind of a crazy afternoon, terrifically cold, and no sun out or anything, and you felt like you were disappearing every time you crossed a road.”

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

J.D. Salinger died yesterday.  The man hadn’t published anything since 1965.  He fought to stay out of the public eye but his constant fight to protect the integrity of his work seemed to shine the light on him.  The public’s desire for him transformed him into a character that one might pen into a novel — and some even did.  By creating one of the most relatable adolescent pessimists (“or a realist,” says my pessimistic room-mate) in the literary canon, Salinger ensured that masses of sad, lonely and misunderstood young (and old) people will continue to read his book for years to come.  The Catcher in the Rye still sells 250,000 copies a year and it was published in 1951.

(I feel this is the appropriate time for me to confess that I’ve actually only read The Catcher in the Rye (albeit a lot), and my room-mate is kind of turning her nose up at me right now as I soliloquize my thoughts to her.  She says that J.D. changed her life.  If we’re talking about fictions of development, it was Plath’s The Bell Jar that changed me.  The room-mate loves realism/pessimism and I love the sentence “societal expectations on women”.  Please excuse this self-indulgent side-note and continue.)

The more I think about J.D. and his efforts to remain in ownership of his own work, the more I respect him.  In 50 years they can exploit his work for profit as much as they want.  I don’t really know what his intentions were for keeping control of his work, but in my mind it’s because he may have just been one of those romantic idealists.  He was just trying not to sell out, ya know?

And with that, I’ll leave you with the covers, one of which I’ve seen on T-shirts that I think they sell at Urban Outfitters:


this last one here is my personal favorite and the cover in my library (I say that as if I live in a mansion with a butler and a mahogany desk and one of those lamps with a green lampshade with a gold pull).  The cover is so crisp and clean, and by producing a signature cover for an entire catalogue of someone’s work, it creates a strong visual connection of the author to the book buyer.  It also looks amazing on a bookshelf, even when the books are spine out.  I’m sure that fans of this cover also appreciate this little feature:  when you carry it around in your back pocket, the cover gets dirty and starts to look tattered.  Maybe a little impractical, but so cool, am I right?

I think this may be a sad day for many book lovers out there.