5 Books with Kelsium

Kelsium was one of Persephone’s first Tumblr friends, and has been a cherished reader and writer around here for a long time.  Read her 5 Books suggestions after the cut! 

1. What book would you give to a potential significant other?

I’m not in the market, and now that I think about it I’m pretty sure my partner of six years hasn’t read this book, but if I had to pick one book to explain like 85% of what I’m all about I’d choose The Pushcart War by Jean Merrill. It’s all like collective action! resistance! flower carts! badass old ladies! and I’d encourage anyone who wants to get an idea of my basic value structure to read it. However, one of the first things my partner and I bonded over was our mutual love of The Godfather, which is basically the opposite of everything The Pushcart War is about. But they’re both, in different ways, very New York stories, so maybe I should just make it clear that I have a New York thing.

2. What book would you give to a high school senior?

In terms of usefulness for future endeavors, I frequently give a copy of The Elements of Style or Bartlett’s Quotations to the graduates in my life, but in terms of a book to have and to hold and to let speak to your soul, I’d give her (in this scenario in my brain the graduate is a her) a copy of A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith. It’s the kind of book you need to have in your life when you just spent the night fighting on the phone outside your dorm in the snow with your long distance boyfriend, and the cafeteria is closed, and there’s no Chinese delivery to your campus in rural Indiana, and everything is totally and forever the worst and why did you even go to college (not that I’m, uh, speaking from personal experience or anything). It’s about growing up, and feeling the weight of the world on your shoulders, and recognizing that you’re not alone, and finding solace in the things you love. It’s one of my favorite books of all time, and I think everyone should have a copy. Also, it’s about New York, so clearly we’re going to keep that theme going.

3. What book would you give to your political representatives?

I think that everyone who has a hand, or a stake in American politics should read the collected works of Studs Terkel. There is nothing more important than realizing that the individual voices in the greater narrative of United States history come together to form patterns that ultimately change very little across the decades, and acknowledging that people, whether they are good people or bad people or, like most of us, people doing the best they can with what they’re given, need to have their voices heard. Studs Terkel, in my opinion, is one of the best, for lack of a better term perhaps, curators of democracy of all time.

4. Which book would you give to a former teacher?

Hm. This one is hard because the temptation is to be spiteful and say that I’d like to give several of them books that I have written making detailed defenses of the things that they said I was wrong about and I’ve held onto because in my tiny, black heart I know I was right. But that kind of thing is never as satisfying as you think it will be. I would at some point like to be able to pass on a piece of writing that I’ve had published, with thanks for all their patience and attention.

5. Which book would you give your best friend?

Well, first I’d demand my copy of Studs Terkel’s The Good War back. What she really wants is a copy of the Oxford English Dictionary, and if I won the lottery I’d get it for her.

By [E] Selena MacIntosh*

Selena MacIntosh is the owner and editor of Persephone Magazine. She also fixes it when it breaks. She is fueled by Diet Coke, coffee with a lot of cream in it, and cat hair.

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