spellbound by the faerie handbook

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What could be a more appropriate distraction from my newfound fear of flying than The Faerie Handbook, a volume dedicated to winged creatures? It was with this logic that I toted this gorgeous, enormous tome in my carry-on luggage to Europe and back this past winter, hoping its lush pages might soothe my anxiety mid-flight. I waited in the terminal clutching it behind my boarding pass, too afraid to leave the book in my backpack and risk loosing access to it after the captain had turned back on the fasten seatbelts sign.

I shouldn’t bury the lede: my air travels are less relevant than my general adoration for this book by the creators of Faerie Magazine. Still, its detailed, whimsical contents did indeed prove a panacea to some of my turbulence terrors…so that’s saying something!

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Prehistoric Pen Pals: Recycled Book Page Envelopes


Remember that amazing vintage science book for kids that I discovered at a library sale? Though I enjoyed exploring its well-worn pages, it was one of the most damaged books I’ve ever seen. The binding and cover had long gone the way of the dinosaurs, and I figured the time had come for its reincarnation.

That’s how my outgoing mail hopped back a few eons!

Some delicate book-surgery, lots of tape, and some stickers and handmade labels were all it took to help this dying relic evolve into something a little more sustainable. I would’ve slipped a small fossil from my collection into each envelope, except I’m pretty sure they’d far exceed the usual “Non-Machinable Surcharge” limitations…

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Cambrian Cuties: Science Lessons from 1942

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The only thing better than a well-stocked used book sale is a well-stocked used book sale with a free bin. After buying my fair share of gorgeous volumes at a local like-new literary extravaganza this weekend, I stopped by a table of unwanted scraps and paperbacks, ready to glean to my heart’s content.

It’s appropriate that I had to basically excavate my way through the Burgess Shale of coffee-stained romance novels and old sheet music to find this incredible treasure: a natural history book for kids from 1942. As a girl who loves vintage children’s illustrations as much as she loves Tiktaalik, I am delighted by this rare opportunity to peek back a few decades–and aeons!

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Quick Fiction Reviews: January 2016



Every year, I resolve to read more–because why not? I spent my childhood devouring books in a matter of hours, returning from the library with my dragon-print bag packed with tens of appealing volumes. College destroyed all of my chances of reading for fun over the course of a couple of years, but I’ve been making a comeback ever since.

My book tastes are so specific that I sometimes can go through weeks of reading without finding something that really appeals to me. So far, though, January 2016’s reading list has been filled with clever characters, delicate gems of prose, and uplifting stories with just a touch (or more!) of magic…

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Messing About in Boats | Barnes & Noble Collectible Editions’ Wind in the Willows



I’ve never been one of those people who can identify one single “favorite book.” Though I usually answer such a question by rattling off a list of the authors I enjoy the most, I’m starting to think that I do have a number-one novel after all.

Ever since I was a child, I’ve been deeply in love with The Wind in the Willows. It’s such a beautifully told story, one that immerses me in a cozy (if occasionally weasel-filled) world that I want to visit over and over again. Kenneth Grahame’s little story about friendship and the relationship between man (or rodent) and nature’s “sublime” has comforted me again and again over the years.

Recently, I decided that I needed to have a copy of my own on hand–in case of an emergency, as the case may be–so I thought I’d give the Barnes & Noble Collectibles Edition version a try.

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Thanks a Vermillion!



Red has a complex and fascinating past–as a valued commodity, a treasured signifier of wealth, a color of power and prestige. One of my favorite books that tells such scarlet stories is Amy Butler Greenfield’s A Perfect Red: Empire, Espionage, and the Quest for the Color of DesireIn particular, Butler traces the trade history of cochineal, one of the most coveted “New World” substances discovered after European contact with the Americas: all due to its ability to create a vivid red dye.

Luckily, the red that has appeared in my life recently has little to do with empire-building or early modern trade. A pepper plant beginning a vivid transformation and the arrival of my Coach Tour Dress in Rouge from Modcloth has made this a red morning indeed (though I’m glad there was no red sun involved, Legolas).

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Red Letter Day


The one thing that continues to astound me about the snail mail community (besides, you know, the sheer fact that it’s actually a thing) is the kindness and generosity of each one of the kindred spirits with whom I exchange letters. Yesterday I came home to an early surprise–the birthday-ish parcel that my long-distance friend in Germany had hinted was on its way had arrived a bit sooner than expected! As soon as I saw that little package, my day brightened tenfold: if my happiness were a shade of red, it would have transformed from a pale, tired red to the cheerful cherry of the box itself.

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