books of 2011: adding up

(last year's reading: the long and short awards)

This year's reading: 131 books. 58 were for school, 67 were for fun, and 6 were for thesis (which is school, but I was working ahead on it for fun) (yay!). 8 were audiobooks.

Only 27 were books I'd read before; 104 were for the first time.

My most-read authors were Laurie R. King (11 titles: the entire Mary Russell series, rather addictive) and C. S. Lewis (9, including two volumes of poetry).

3 got reread: The Beekeeper's Apprentice by Laurie R. King, For the Life of the World by Alexander Schmemann, and Fruit of Lips by Eugen Rosenstock-Huessy.

I guess that also tells you which were my favorites.

Others would definitely be Brideshead Revisited by Evelyn Waugh and The Imitation of Christ by Thomas a Kempis. Consider them recommended.

Happy new year!


First Sunday in Advent

The Epistle. Romans 13:8-14.

Owe no man anything but to love one another, for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law. For this, Thou shalt not commit adultery, Thou shalt not kill, Thou shalt not steal, Thou shalt not bear false witness, Thou shalt not covet, and if there be any other commandment, it is briefly comprehended in this saying, namely, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. Love worketh no ill to his neighbor: therefore love is the fulfilling of the law. And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed. The night is far spent, the day is at hand: let us therefore cast off the works of darkness, and let us put on the armour of light. Let us walk honestly, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.

The Collect.

Almighty God, give us grace that we may cast away the works of darkness, and put upon us the armour of light, now in the time of this mortal life, in which thy Son Jesus Christ came to visit us in great humility; that in the last day, when he shall come again in his glorious majesty to judge both the quick and the dead, we may rise to the life immortal, through him who liveth and reigneth with thee and the Holy Ghost, now and ever. Amen.


C. S. Lewis, "Prayer"

Master, they say that when I seem
To be in speech with you,
Since you make no replies, it's all a dream
--One talker aping two.

They are half right, but not as they
Imagine, rather, I
Seek in myself the things I meant to say,
And lo! the wells are dry.

Then, seeing me empty, you forsake
The Listener's role, and through
My dead lips breathe and into utterance wake
The thoughts I never knew.

And thus you neither need reply
Nor can; thus, while we seem
Two talking, thou art One forever, and I
No dreamer, but thy dream.


from milton, "areopagitica"

(written against censorship in publishing)

For Books are not absolutely dead things, but do contain a potency of life in them to be as active as that soul was whose progeny they are; nay they do preserve as in a vial the purest efficacy and extraction of that living intellect that bred them. I know they are as lively, and as vigorously productive, as those fabulous Dragons teeth; and being sown up and down, may chance to spring up armed men. And yet on the other hand, unless wariness be used, as good almost kill a Man as kill a good Book; who kills a Man kills a reasonable creature, God's Image; but he who destroys a good Book, kills reason itself, kills the Image of God, as it were in the eye. Many a man lives a burden to the Earth; but a good Book is the precious life-blood of a master spirit, imbalmed and treasured up on purpose to a life beyond life. 'Tis true, no age can restore a life, whereof perhaps there is no great loss; and revolutions of ages do not oft recover the loss of a rejected truth, for the want of which whole Nations fare the worse.


no furniture so charming as books

especially when they're color-coordinated Lauryl-style. I'm tired of trying to organize books by subject. Plus, they look gross all mixed together. This is totally happening to my enormous built-in shelves back in Canada the next time I'm at home.


Thanskgiving, belated

Tonight, I was thankful for half an hour home alone to spend playing piano.
I'm thankful that when I didn't want to take piano lessons, my mom still taught me to read music.
I'm thankful for all my friends who did take piano lessons and made me jealous.
I'm thankful for parents who, when I decided that I wanted to take piano after all, spent their money and time to make it happen, and for my two fabulous teachers.
I'm thankful for Johann Pachelbel writing his Canon in D and George Winston for putting it in C and spelling it with a k.
I'm thankful for my roommate who gave me the George Winston album to begin with, and my parents who gave me the sheet music, and my other roommate's parents who gave her a keyboard.
I'm thankful for school vacations that magically align with Canadian thanksgiving every year, and wonderful families and friends to spend the week at home with, and more wonderful friends at school to come back to.
I'm thankful that my one roommate has a boyfriend to visit, and my other roommate has a sister to visit, and I have half an hour to spend alone, playing piano.


"The Lodger"

After I had beaten my sword into a ploughshare,
I beat my ploughshare into a hoe,
then beat the hoe into a fork,
which I used to eat my dinner alone.

And when I had finished dinner,
I beat my fork into a toothpick,
which I twirled on my lips
then flicked over a low stone wall

as I walked along the city river
under the clouds and stars,
quite happy but for the thought
that I should have beaten that toothpick into a shilling

so I could buy a newspaper to read
after climbing the stairs to my room.

- from The Trouble with Poetry, Billy Collins



Ten past twelve
is always a hungry time of night.
I wash dishes while I wait for my toast,
and I wish
I could somehow wash the knife
that I will use for the butter and jam
now, while I wait,
instead of afterwards.
It's so inefficient, living linearly.
And as I wait for the toast,
I think of other ways this could apply:
I could be doing my hair now,
not going to bed to tangle it;
writing my term paper now,
and being at a loss for words later,
during my week off,
when I will have plenty of time for that;
I could have gotten over you years ago,
so as to be better prepared
for this week,
but I didn't, and I'm not.


Not worrying.

[Disclaimer: yes, dieting serves many legitimate health-related functions.]


For many of us trying to lose weight, health is not the problem. My health is just fine. But college leads to late night studying which leads to stress which leads to junk food, which leaves me making good resolutions and more or less carrying them out.

Then my read-the-Bible-in-13-weeks plan got me into Matthew, and something in the Sermon on the Mount lit up in a new, possibly weird, but very humbling way.

"Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink; nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food and the body more than clothing?" (Matt. 6:25)

Food shouldn't be the point, whether the problem is undereating as a way to fit into a smaller pair of pants or overeating as a substitute for true community. Stop worrying about how many calories in your lunch are from fat, stop making chocolate the answer for a long day at work, and seek the kingdom of God and His righteousness.


"And Death Shall Have No Dominion"

[Today, Tabitha and Rose and I raided the Book Man, and I came out with the collected poems of Dylan Thomas. So far, this is my favorite.]

And death shall have no dominion.
Dead men naked they shall be one.
With the man in the wind and the west moon;
When their bones are picked clean and the clean bones gone,
They shall have stars at elbow and foot;
Though they go mad they shall be sane,
Though they sink through the sea they shall rise again;
Though lovers be lost love shall not;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
Under the windings of the sea
They lying long shall not die windily;
Twisting on racks when sinews give way,
Strapped to a wheel, yet they shall not break;
Faith in their hands shall snap in two,
And the unicorn evils run them through;
Split all ends up they shan't crack;
And death shall have no dominion.

And death shall have no dominion.
No more may gulls cry at their ears
Or waves break loud on the seashores;
Where blew a flower may a flower no more
Lift its head to the blows of the rain;
Though they be mad and dead as nails,
Heads of the characters hammer through daisies;
Break in the sun till the sun breaks down,
And death shall have no dominion.

- Dylan Thomas (1914-1953)


summer workout & audiobooks!

Here's a fun one that'll still fit into the remainder of your summer: the hundred pushups challenge. Start by assessing your pushup ability (or not) and then proceed accordingly through the six-week program. I'm doing week one right now and loving it... and also doing the two hundred squats challenge, which is proving very (i.e., painfully) effective.

And for while you're working out: download some free audiobooks at Books Should Be Free. They have G. K. Chesterton, Jane Austen, Sir Arthur Conan Doyle... tons of great classics. And lots of George Macdonald, too, so of course I'm happy.

Two weeks until Conventiculum. Woohoo!


molasses chocolate chip cookies

(enlarged and adapted from a recipe from Country Living)

- 5 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 tsp. baking powder
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 1/2 tsp. salt
- 2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1 tsp. cloves (ground (obviously))

Elsewhere, cream together and beat with an electric mixer for 5 minutes, until fluffy:
- 1 1/4 cups softened butter/margarine
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup dark brown sugar (I used light brown)
Mix in:
- 3 eggs
Mix in:
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 2 tsp. vanilla

Add and mix in the dry ingredients in 2 installments, and finally, mix in the long-awaited, last but not least, and all that:
2 cups chocolate chips

Roll the dough into balls and flatten them slightly on the pan. These hold their shape rather well when they bake. Although, the raw cookie dough is so delicious (it's even delicious-smelling) that I had some ethical qualms about baking it at all. Bake at 350 for 14 minutes; makes 4.5-5 dozen.


O Thou, In Whose Presence

O Thou, in Whose presence my soul takes delight
On Whom in affliction I call
My comfort by day, and my song in the night,
My hope, my salvation, my all.

Where dost Thou, dear Shepherd,
Resort with Thy sheep,
To feed them in pastures of love?
Say, why in the valley of death should I weep,
Or alone in this wilderness rove?

Oh why should I wander, an alien from Thee,
Or cry in the desert for bread?
Thy foes will rejoice when my sorrows they see,
And smile at the tears I have shed.

He looks, and ten thousands of angels rejoice,
And myriads wait for His word;
He speaks and eternity, filled with His voice,
Re-echoes the praise of the Lord.

Dear Shepherd, I hear and will follow Thy call,
I know the sweet sound of Thy voice.
Restore and defend me, for Thou art my all,
And in Thee I will ever rejoice.

(Joseph Swain)



This cute female goldfinch slammed into our (glass) sliding door while I was eating lunch, and took a few minutes to collect herself. How could I resist? It's not every day that you get to pet a wild bird.


chocolate chip *granola* cookies

My family has used the same chocolate chip cookie recipe for as long as I can remember, and I've stayed loyal to it. (Just last week, I made a quadruple batch of the stuff.) But now, in a single afternoon, my loyalties have shifted.

(cream together:)
1/2 cup margarine/butter
1/2 cup honey
1/2 cup brown sugar

(mix in:)
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla

2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1 tsp baking soda
2 cups granola
1 cup chocolate chips

Bake at 375 for 10 minutes. Makes ~40.


some summer goals

Last summer I had reading goals, which I kept pace with until the last two weeks of vacay. This summer, I'm still planning to read a lot (lots of it for my senior thesis!), but my actual goals are more linguistic:

I want to dust my Latin off after a year of comparative disuse:
- Reread Lingua Latina I (this will be easy)
- Reread Cupid & Psyche (this will be hard)
- Read Asterix et Fossa Alta

I want to firm up this past year's stock of Greek skills:
- Reread Athenaze Book 1
- Read 1 John (assigned: we're supposed to read it "several" times)

And... then there's French.
French will be the killer. I want to finish the book I've worked on every summer and never gotten past page 79 in. This will mean doing 3 or 4 lessons a week, which is probably unachievable. However, I will die trying.


Easter: Time for Eggs

Stephanie and Ashley already have an impressive collection of Ukrainian Easter eggs. Lindsey and I basked in their expertise on Good Friday afternoon, and we decorated eggs and ate innumerable zwieback drenched with butter and jam. I made this:

Stephanie's, far from finished:

Lindsey, drawing about a hundred and fifty perfectly straight lines (seriously, she has a gift):

Also, I have no pictures of the making of them, but these are called cascarones. Take a raw egg, remove the end of the shell as if it were soft-boiled, pour out the innards, wash the shell and pop the membrane at the end, dye it, let it dry, fill it with confetti, glue a square of tissue paper over the hole, and on Easter, break it over someone's head for luck.

On Holy Saturday and Easter Sunday, Chloe and I invested innumerable more eggs in a quadruple batch of waffles and a big pan of scrambled eggs for Saturday dinner and 20 muffin-sized quiches for Sunday pre-lunch, and we ate and were well-filled. He is risen! Alleluia!



I love sauce, I really do, but for some reason, none of the pizzas I make these days have sauce on them. Anyway, today's was pretty straightforward. (As always, I used the dough recipe from smittenkitchen; usually I double it for a nice thick pizza, but today I used just 2 cups of flour and adjusted everything else accordingly. Which is to say, I vaguely remember how much of everything goes into the normal recipe, but I didn't look, and didn't measure any of it aside from the flour. Live dangerously.)

4 roma tomatoes
3 T white balsamic vinegar (nice because it doesn't mess up the color; also has a lighter flavor than regular balsamic)
1/4 tsp each salt and pepper
I sliced the tomatoes about 1/4 of an inch thick and layered them up in a bowl, drizzling a little vinegar and sprinkling salt and pepper over each layer, then let them sit while I grated up a big pile of feta and ripped a package of fresh basil into smaller pieces. I'd never stopped to just smell fresh basil before. It was enchanting. Fresh cilantro is still my favorite plant smell, though.

With the roma slices each cut in half, and including the heels, I had just the right amount of tomato to cover my crust comfortably. I sprinkled some of the balsamic left in the bowl over them and threw on a tiny bit more salt and pepper before adding the cheese, then baked the whole thing at 375 for probably 20 minutes. (Writing recipes out would be easier if I paid more attention to what I was doing. Oh well.) When it came out, I threw on the basil, and we devoured the whole thing in record time.

For next Tuesday, Kathleen is planning something with zucchini... I'm excited!


"On the twofold sense of the soul."

Now the rational soul was on this account equipped with a twofold sense, that it might grasp visible things without through the flesh, and invisible things within through reason, so that both visible and invisible things might excite it to praise of the Creator. For God would not be praised in all His works by the rational creature, if all the works of God were not known by the rational creature. Therefore, that the praise of God might be perfect, the works of God were shown to the rational creature, so that it might admire Him within and without, and through admiration advance to love.

One creature was made whose sense was wholly within, and another creature was made whose sense was wholly without. The sense of the angels was within, and the sense of brute animals was without. [...] And man was placed in a middle position, that he might have sense within and without; within for invisible things, without for visible; within through the sense of reason, without through the sense of flesh, that he might go in and contemplate, and might go out and contemplate; that he might have wisdom within, the works of wisdom without, that he might contemplate both, and be refreshed from both, see and rejoice, love and praise. Wisdom was a pasture within within; the work of wisdom was a pasture without. And the sense of man was permitted to go to both, and find refreshment in both, to go by cognition, to be refreshed by love.

Wisdom was a book written within; the work of wisdom a book written without. But He willed afterwards that it still be written otherwise without, that wisdom might be seen more manifestly and recognized more perfectly, that the eye of man might be illumined to the second writing, since it had been darkened to the first. Therefore, He made a second work after the first, and that was more evident, since it not only pointed out but illumined. He assumed flesh not losing divinity, and was placed as a book written within and without; in humanity without, within in divinity, so that it might be read without through imitation, within through contemplation; without unto health, within unto felicity; without unto merit, within unto joy. Within, "In the beginning was the Word,"" (John 1:1); without, "the Word became flesh and dwelt among us," (John 1:14).

- Hugh of St. Victor, De Sacramentis Book One, Part Six, Chapter V


sundays and waves

I love this painting. That's why it's on the wall over my couch, along with a lot of other art.

My mom, who knows this, got me this awesome shirt for Christmas. I wear it swing dancing a lot, thereby combining two things that make me happy. Now if only I could eat chocolate while dancing....

She also gave me a journal. Are you noticing a theme yet?

Now, every time someone gives me a nice journal, I'm left with an ethical dilemma: do I fill this gorgeous book with what will, a few years later, be nothing but humiliating drivel, or do I leave it on the shelf to lead a long life of pristine uselessness?* The latter option tends to prevail, as the unused blue satin journal with a sequined cover that someone gave me for my eleventh birthday bears witness. But I hadn't been keeping a personal diary or journal in a while, and I missed it, so finally, I hit upon a solution that I hope will keep me journalling in a regular and worthwhile manner until the book is full. I'm keeping a journal of Sundays.

For example, this week, the third Sunday of Lent, I went to Sunday school and church, made bread, wrote a birthday letter to Timbrel, played volleyball, watched Tangled, and went to a Psalm sing... or at least, that's the nutshell version. Don't worry, the real entry was a lot more interesting. I want to be able to look back and enjoy remembering the best of my college days (or at least what's left of them now that I'm almost done being a junior) by remembering how I rested.

*Sentences like this one are how you know I'm tired.


double fudge irish cream cookies

My mom made these for St Patty's yesterday and WOW, were they scrumptious. The raw dough is even better than the finished product.

1 c. butter
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 eggs
1 t. vanilla
1/2 c. Bailey's Irish cream

2 2/3 c. all-purpose flour
1/2 c. cocoa
1 1/4 t. baking soda
1/4 t. salt
1 t. instant coffee
1 c. white chocolate chips
1/2 c. semisweet chocolate chips

Cream butter and sugar together; beat in eggs and vanilla. Add Bailey's 1 T. at a time. Add dry ingredients. Refrigerate dough 4-6 hours. Roll into 1" balls and flatten slightly; bake at 350 for 8-10 minutes.

Speaking of my mom, happy 50th birthday to you.


thanskgiving pizza

OK, first off, this really was scrumptious, and if you need the testimony of two or three witnesses, ask my roommates. However, I got a 36-hour stomach bug later that night, and thinking about this pizza still makes me queasy. *sigh* Maybe someday I'll make it again.

From the crust up: half a box of stuffing (prepared, of course); some green peas, cooked; some mozza to stick things together; chopped sandwich-meat-type turkey; more cheese; and lastly, some dried cranberries. It was pretty.

yes, this was completely my own invention.

pearl earrings

...may become an obsession. Next, I want to find a pearl eyebrow ring for the upper piercing.


papers, in retrospect

I just had a sudden urge to get all walk-down-memory-lane-ish. Here are the non-assigned topics I've written papers about at NSA. So far it's been pretty fun.

Freshman year (I wash my hands of #1 and #4):
- Why Hamlet is basically toast (a terrible paper if ever there was one)
- Why you should believe in time travel
- Why straight edge is incompatible with Christianity
- Why I don't like Kierkegaard
- Why Pan's Labyrinth is better than The Sixth Sense

Sophomore year:
- Why Hippocrates invented science (one of the most boring papers ever, can't you tell?)
- Why Gone With the Wind was so darn popular (well worth the extra 1,037 pages of research)

Junior year:
- Why the Greeks thought marriage was depressing
- Why Plato and modern subatomic physics are really the same
- Why the snake in Book V of the Aeneid is a ghost
- Why I don't think Augustine believes in radical evil (forthcoming!)

What's the oddest/awesomest thing you've ever written a paper on?


St Bernard

"[In copies of the Book of Hours,] one also finds eccentric little texts like the verses of St Bernard, sometimes preceded by an anecdote explaining their origin. One day (the rubrics in the Book of hours tell us) the Devil appeared to St Bernard and boasted that he knew of seven special verses in the Psalms so efficacious that whoever recited them daily could not die in sin. Ste Bernard cried, 'What are they? Tell me at once!' 'I shan't,' said the Devil, 'You shall not know them.' St Bernard then replied that he would have the recite the entire Psalter every day in order to be sure of including the seven magic verses, and the Devil, fearing that this excessive devotion would do too much good, quickly revealed the verses."

- Christopher de Hamel, A History of Illuminated Manuscripts, 176.


Nostalgic Pizza

I've loved seafood for as long as I can remember. This is my favorite childhood pizza: pepperoni, olives, and shrimp. Also, notice anything? My awesome parents got me REAL pizza pans for Christmas (yay!), and I can just squeeze them into my teeny oven (double yay!).


John Donne

All mankind is of one author, and is one volume; when one man dies, one chapter is not torn out of the book, but translated into a better language; and every chapter must be so translated; God employs several translators; some pieces are translated by age, some by sickness, some by war, some by justice; but God's hand is in every translation, and His hand shall bind up all our scattered leaves again for that library where every book shall lie open to one another.

- from Meditation XVII


Augustine's Confessions, 5.35, 37

50. O Lord God, grant us thy peace--for thou hast given us all things. Grant us the peace of quiet, the peace of the Sabbath, the peace without an evening. All this most beautiful array of things, all so very good, will pass away when all their courses are finished--for in them there is both morning and evening.
51. But the seventh day is without an evening, and it has no setting, for thou hast sanctified it with an everlasting duration. After all thy works of creation, which were very good, thou didst rest on the seventh day, although thou hast created them all in unbroken rest--and this so that the voice of thy Book might speak to us with the prior assurance that after our works--and they also are very good because thou hast given them to us--we may find our rest in thee in the Sabbath of life eternal.
53. We con see all those things which thou hast made because they are--but they are because thou seest them. And we see with our eyes that they are, and we see with our minds that they are good. But thou sawest them as made when thou sawest that they would be made.
And now, in this present time, we have been moved to do well, now that our heart has been quickened by thy Spirit; but in the former time, having forsaken thee, we were moved to do evil. But thou, O the one good God,h ast never ceased to do good! And we have accomplished certain good works by thy good gifts, and ever though they are not eternal, still we hope, after these things here, to find our rest in thy great sanctification. But thou art the Good, and needest no rest, and art always at rest, because thou thyself art thy own rest.
What man will teach men to understand this? And what angel will teach the angels? Or what angels will teach men? We must ask it of thee; we must seek it in thee; we must knock for it at thy door. Only thus shall we receive; only thus shall we find; only thus shall thy door be opened.


Augustine's Confessions, 4.11.16

Be not foolish, O my soul, and do not let the tumult of your vanity deafen the ear of your heart. Be attentive. The Word itself calls you to return, and with him is a place of unperturbed rest, where love is not forsaken unless it first forsakes. Behold, these things pass away that others may come to be in their place. Thus even this lowest level of unity may be made complete in all its parts. "But do I ever pass away?" asks the Word of God. Fix your habitation in him. O my soul, commit whatsoever you have to him. For at long last you are now becoming tired of deceit. Commit to truth whatever you have received from the truth, and you will lose nothing. What is decayed will flourish again; your diseases will be healed; your perishable parts shall be reshaped and renovated, and made whole again in you. And these perishable things will not carry you with them down to where they go when they perish, but shall stand and abide, and you with them, before God, who abides and continues forever.


the last verse is usually my favorite

Thou the spring of all my comfort, more than life to me,
whom have I on earth beside thee? Whom in heaven but thee?
Savior, Savior, hear my humble cry;
while on others thou art calling, do not pass me by.

O to grace how great a debtor daily I’m constrained to be!
Let Thy grace, Lord, like a fetter, bind my wandering heart to Thee.
Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it, prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it, seal it for Thy courts above.

Here see the Bread of Life; see waters flowing
Forth from the throne of God, pure from above.
Come to the feast of love; come, ever knowing
Earth has no sorrow but Heaven can remove.

This is my Father’s world. O let me ne’er forget
That though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the ruler yet.
This is my Father’s world: the battle is not done:
Jesus Who died shall be satisfied, and earth and Heav’n be one.


The Golden Key

Just in case I haven't already talked your ear off about it....

As long as I can remember, my family has owned a set of George MacDonald paperbacks. It used to be a boxed set, but the box died, leaving behind The Princess and the Goblin, The Princess and Curdie, The Lost Princess, and The Golden Key and Other Stories. Since this was at least twelve years ago and my eight-year-old self wasn't exactly taking notes, I can't say for sure, but I that the first book that I read of the set was The Golden Key and Other Stories, and since The Golden Key is (naturally) the first story in the book, I can more or less say that it was the first thing I ever read by George MacDonald, although I went on to thoroughly enjoy the rest of the unboxed set.

Now I've gotten the chance to translate fairy tales into Latin for academic credit (because my school is amazing like that.) Over the course of the last four weeks, I've been melting down The Golden Key and remolding it into new words, which is pretty addictive and always manages to mess up my sleep schedule. It's a terrific story, one of those stories that I dearly wish were true in fact and have to content myself with knowing to be true in meaning. You should read it. The last two sentences give me goosebumps every time.


Home Alone

For some reason, January always puts me in the mood to 1) get rid of a huge pile of junk and 2) revamp my apartment. Both have been accomplished today. Before today, these walls had one poster ("The Great Wave of Kanagawa") and one small picture in the place where Salvador Dali's "Meditative Rose" is now. Please disregard the messy bookshelf (unless you'd like to buy one of the books in the top row).